IoT in Edu

Five reasons the Internet of Things deserves a seat in the classroom.

GUEST COLUMN | by Lisa Litherland

CREDIT CDW-G IoT in education.pngIt’s no secret that the Internet of Things (IoT) has exploded in popularity in recent years – Gartner predicts 8.4 billion connected devices will be used in 2017, a 31 percent increase from 2016. Many of these connected devices are finding their way into education. From the rise of interactive whiteboards to connected school buses, IoT’s value in K-12 is growing exponentially. Here are five reasons IoT has earned its spot in K-12, and how it can impact schools from the student, teacher, administrator and even parent perspective.

1. Student Engagement

Eighty-one percent of K-12 professionals say that IoT will improve student engagement, and 36 percent say they have already seen improved student engagement thanks to their IoT efforts, according to CDW-G’s survey, Safety and Savings: IoT Opportunities in K-12. Devices like laptops, tablets and digital whiteboards are commonplace, but many IoT tools are expanding capabilities to improve student achievement. For example, 25 percent of school districts have smart buses, which often include Wi-Fi. For students without internet access at home, this can mean more time to do homework and have access to online learning tools.

With a proper implementation plan, schools will reap the benefits of IoT technology for students, teachers, parents and administrators alike.

2. Classroom Innovation

Additionally, 33 percent of schools have seen improved teacher engagement thanks to IoT, finds CDW-G’s survey of 300 K-12 professionals. For example, IoT technology that helps teachers take attendance saves time by avoiding the need to conduct a manual roll call. Internet-connected devices, such as tablets, combined with analytic technology, can help educators monitor student activity during testing or classwork and provide more agile, personalized instruction – increasing both teacher and student interest and enthusiasm. Further, smart webcams allow students to tune in to the classroom virtually, enabling teachers to work with students independent of physical location – possibly eliminating the snow day.

3. Parent Involvement

Parent participation is important as well, but it is challenging to keep parents informed at all times. IoT-connected devices can help. Connected school buses that sync with apps enable parents to know when to pick up their children at the bus stop or when to expect them to arrive at home. Text-based emergency alerts triggered by IoT sensors can be delivered automatically to parents’ smartphones, and are already in use by 25 percent of school districts, notes the CDW-G study. These IoT devices increase parents’ knowledge of their students’ whereabouts and safety.

4. Security Enhancements

The biggest IoT benefit schools and districts have seen to date is improved security – 55 percent of K-12 professionals surveyed say safety has improved thanks to IoT, finds the study. Wireless door locks, room access systems and connected cameras – the latter of which are already used by 48 percent of schools – enable the main office to see guests before they are allowed to enter the building, as well as ensure all building doors are locked automatically at the same time every day. Student ID cards with radio frequency identification chips – currently used by 26 percent of schools – can confirm the identification of all students entering the building, and be used to ensure all students are out of the building during fire drills or other emergencies.

5. Cost and Energy Savings

Implementing an IoT strategy is an investment in both time and money. However, with careful planning, schools can realize long-term cost savings and a considerable payoff in terms of energy use. In fact, 65 percent of K-12 professionals predict that IoT will save schools significant money. And, 38 percent of schools using IoT have seen improved energy efficiency thanks to resources such as smart lighting systems, smart HVAC systems and smart thermostats. By controlling the lighting and temperature automatically and only using these devices when the building is occupied, schools can cut down on their energy bills.

IoT has earned its place in the classroom – and with elements such as the smart bus – a seat outside the classroom. While some schools may still have hesitations, 81 percent say the potential benefits of IoT outweigh the risks. What’s more, 82 percent of administrators and teachers surveyed by CDW-G expect most schools to have incorporated IoT into core functional areas in five years. With a proper implementation plan, schools will reap the benefits of IoT technology for students, teachers, parents and administrators alike.

Lisa Litherland is a digital transformation architect and focuses on the Internet of Things (IoT) for CDW-G. Write to:

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