Approximately 6.4 billion devices are connected to the Internet in 2016, according to estimates from Gartner. The growth is burgeoning: Gartner says this figure represents a 30 percent increase from just last year – and the number of connected devices will more than double, reaching 13.5 billion in just 3-1/2 years.
While Gartner says that aside from connected cars, consumer uses will continue to account for the largest number of connected things, schools are also buying into connected technologies in record numbers. A recent study from Extreme Networks revealed that nearly half (46 percent) of the 612 K-12 and higher education IT managers surveyed believe that smart schools will have a major impact on student engagement, mobile learning, personalized education, efficiency, reducing costs and more during the next one to two years.
“In all likelihood, for the education system in the USA to make the leap to a connected school, school districts and state education agencies will need to drive the digital strategy and appropriately budget and allocate funding to create these products and related ‘smart schools,’” says Huffington Post.
IoT Still a New Idea for Schools
Despite all the promise of an IoT smart school, only 9 percent of school IT managers say they have implemented parts of a smart school plan, and only 3 percent have plans to implement the technology within the next three years. Nearly one-fourth (23 percent) are aware of the technologies and their benefits and are starting to investigate. For the majority of IT managers, the IoT smart school is still a new concept, with more than a third (36 percent) just slightly aware, and 29 percent just becoming aware.
The top smart technologies schools already in use in U.S. schools include interactive whiteboards, camera and video, tablets and eBooks, student ID cards, 3D printers, Smart HVAC equipment, connected electric lighting and temperature sensors, attendance tracking and wireless door locks, all designed to report their status via WiFi. Forward-thinking schools are already using devices like robots and augmented reality, facial recognition and parking sensors. The devices are not only useful in monitoring conditions and incidents, but they provide a wealth of data the school can use for analytics for the insights to inform smarter decision-making.
School IT leaders say that the most important factors that impact smart school technology success and implementation include reliable WiFi, adequate network bandwidth, professional development and training for teachers, appropriate devices for students, formative assessment software and dashboard software. Among the top reservations and concerns cited by survey participants are security and privacy concerns, interoperability and added expenses.
A Comprehensive Approach
Intel has developed a 360° approach to creating connected school environments. First, schools need to develop a strategic plan for transformation. Second, schools need to build a robust IT infrastructure, which is at the heart of all IoT smart schools. A scalable architecture will enable the school to adapt and grow. Next, educational institutions need to select the right technology to suit the needs of teachers and students, while providing the right measure of manageability, deployment, functionality and budgetary constraints. And finally, schools need to source the right integrated and adaptive software, designed to increase student motivation and creativity, facilitate problem solving and measure progress.
Photo Credit: Intel®
As awareness of the myriad benefits of the growing number connected devices increases, so will demand. Opportunities abound for resellers working within the education space that know how to help schools develop their plan, optimize their infrastructure and determine the right devices and content that fit with the educational program’s goals and objectives.