Are K-12 Schools Ready to Embrace IoT?

Create: 02/07/2017 - 17:06

Research points to lots of interest in IoT among educators. Interactive white boards, adaptive learning systems, school bus tracking sensors and student ID cards are among the many offerings that solution providers are bringing into school districts across the nation.

 

You’d be hard-pressed to find an organization of any size and type that doesn’t rely on connected devices today. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of Americans own a smartphone, and nearly 90 percent of Americans are online today according to Pew Research Center. Connected devices are everywhere – and usage is growing. Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be about 20.8 billion connected devices in use across all sectors.  

As technology usage has permeated our everyday lives, educators have become aware of the many potential benefits a connected environment has on their schools. Smart schools use an array of IoT devices that transmit their status via Wi-Fi, each offering its own specific value to a school. Interactive white boards, eBooks and tablets, and adaptive learning systems, for instance, can gather and analyze data for teachers and students to use in the classroom, optimizing instruction and improving learning outcomes. Student ID cards, attendance tracking devices, school bus tracking systems and parking sensors can keep tabs on students. Devices like smart temperature sensors and smart heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) equipment can cut energy consumption. And wireless door locks, connected surveillance cameras and facial recognition systems provide security for teachers, students and staff. 

A survey from Extreme Networks says that close to half (46 percent) of K-12 and higher education IT leaders believe an IoT smart school that uses IoT devices will have a major impact on education in the next few years. Survey respondents say that the top benefits of smart school technology are:

  • increased student engagement
  • takes advantage of mobile learning
  • enables a more personalized education
  • eases the learning process for students
  • improves efficiency or reduces costs
  • improves student success measurements
  • facilitates creativity
  • provides a safer learning environment
  • enhances control and responsiveness

Although IoT has significant promise for education, schools have been slow to embrace IoT. The Extreme Networks’ survey results note that less than 10 percent of schools have implemented parts of a Smart School plan, and only another three percent plan to implement the technology by 2018. Nearly 23 percent are aware and beginning to investigate.

Adoptions numbers are sure to rise. eSchool News recommends districts address the following eight areas to prepare for IoT adoption:

  • The network. Consider starting with basic coverage and bandwidth capacity within and outside of the school buildings.
  • Network security. Plan to securely bring new devices onto the network and find an easy way to monitor and track all devices.
  • Network type. While many IoT devices are Wi-Fi controlled, other devices might require a different connection method.
  • Servers. Many IoT devices are operated from the cloud, but districts still need to know how data storage and processing affect servers.
  • Displays and dashboards. Districts must determine which devices they’ll need to display IoT data.
  • Custom software. While much of IoT runs without customization, districts might have to tweak some software on occasion.
  • Policy. Develop a clear policy outlining the devices and data allowed on the network.
  • People and training. Ensure that staff understands all facets of the IoT implementation, including terminology, types of apps and more.

A Framework for Learning

A robust infrastructure is essential for any school district IoT project. Intel® Education Technology solutions framework can help districts support teaching and learning objectives with a scalable, sustainable infrastructure that enables informed decision making, greater productivity and efficiencies. Framework components enable smarter security, classroom connectivity, simplified student data storage, management capabilities and cloud computing for educators.

Learn more about how this comprehensive framework for education can help your district become a smart school here.

About Author

Patricia Schnaidt's picture
Patricia Schnaidt
Patricia Schnaidt is an expert business technology writer. She has held top publishing and editorial positions at InternetWeek, Network Computing, Windows Magazine and LAN Magazine. Schnaidt has written countless articles, lectured extensively, and authored "Enterprise-wide Networking" (Prentice-Hall). She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Columbia College, Columbia University.

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