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How the Internet of Things is Changing Education

Mar 13, 2018 by

The internet has brought many benefits to education. It has given millions of people access to high-quality learning, provided unlimited resources for teachers, enabled students to do wider and faster research and helped practitioners share ideas and collaborate on projects. And all this was achieved when the only things connected to the internet were computers, phones,and tablets.

Today, with the Internet of Things (IoT), thousands of different devices are connected to the internet and this is set to expand, exponentially, in the future. The IoT is opening doors to new ways of thinking that is changing the way educational establishments work and bringing benefits to staff and students alike. The IoTmakes campuses safer, improves the management of educational resources, provides teachers, students and their parents with higher quality data and ithelps school and university managers run their establishments more cost-effectively.

Protecting students on campus

Linking RDIF technology with IoT access control equipment allows schools to install highly effective ways to protect students. This technology makes it possible for campus security staff to track every individual on-site. By ensuring staff and students wear RFID wristbands or carry smart ID cards, such as those available from Universal Smart Cards, it is possible to log their attendance and track their whereabouts on campus. As a result, the school or college will be able to discover if students don’t turn up to class, they’ll be able to automate registration, and should an emergency arise, it will be easy to locate them.

Access control can also be used to prohibit the entrance of those without ID, restrict where students can go in the building and to automate lockdowns. By storing biometric data, it’s also possible to ensure that those with fake ID or who try to use stolen cards cannot get access.

IoT-based access control means that all the information can be collected centrally for processing and that the system can be operated remotely – which is ideal for universities with several campuses to manage. The IoT also makes it easy for parents to be notified if automatically when their child arrives at school, or if they don’t turn up.

There are also other benefits of these systems which aren’t security based. For example, access control wristbands and smart cards can be used for booking rooms, allocating car parking spaces and as library cards.

IoT in Universities and Colleges

The millennials who populate today’s campuses are digital natives. The internet and its manifold devices are far more natural to them than to older generations. For these young people, technology is the first port of call when they want to find something out. They are much more comfortable asking Siri for an answer than working their way through the Dewey Decimal System and far happier using phones and laptops to do their research.

Happily, for them, the IoT is providing a much wider range of technological resources than books and papers. For a start, university professors can now use apps and other devices to give students easy access to a wide range of linked resources: PowerPoints, digitized books and dissertations, TV documentaries, online videos, research data, infographics and much more. These can be accessed on computers, iPads, smart TVs, Amazon Echo, and, of course, on the ubiquitous smartphone.

Not only does technology provide a wider range of resources, it also enables students to access them anywhere with an internet connection, making it easier for students to learn at their own paceand in an environment which they find most convenient. The IoT also makes it simpler for them to work with other students on projects, even if they are at universities in other countries.

Another function of these apps is to collectstudent progress data. This helps college staff assess how well the students are doing in their studies and the information gathered can be used to provide personalized learning programs for individual students. Intervention can be used to help strugglers while differentiated work can be given to stretch the more advanced learners.

IoT Utility Management

The ability to use IoT for controlling utilities is helping schools and colleges make significant savings on the cost of air-conditioning,heating, and lighting. Many recently built schools are now ‘smart schools’ and come with built-in temperature sensors that are linked to intelligent heating systems. Not only are these capable of adjusting the heating or air-conditioning settings, they can also open and close windows until each room meets its optimal temperature.

Older school buildings can have these installed too, letting them cut down on energy wastage. The same applies to lighting: sensors inform the system when a room is empty and when there is enough natural light. In this way, lighting only comes on when it is needed, thus lowering power consumption.

These intelligent systems also learn how to improve their efficiency. By analyzing all the readings from the sensors, they canfind better ways to operate.

The cashless school

Every school or college that uses cash is causing unnecessary problems for itself. When cash is allowed, it means that canteen staff need to take payment, key items into a cash register and hand back change for every purchase. At the end of the day, all that cash needs to be tallied, bagged up and taken to the bank. With thousands of students, that’s a lot of money to process and it takes a lot of time. It slows down canteen service, causing long queues and waiting times, and it adds to the burden on finance staff. Cash has the potential to be stolen or lost, too.

However, by adopting an IoT-enabled cashless vending system, all those problems disappear. Instead of paying with cash, students use a smart card that has been topped up with credit at an automated machine or by online payment. At the canteen, all students need to do is swipe the card on a reader. Payment is quicker, waiting times and queues shrink and there is no cash to be tallied.

But these are not the only benefits. As payment terminals have an internet connection, all their data is collected and stored in a central system, giving administrators access to real-time transaction reporting. This means that the production of financial records can be automated.

In addition, records of what is purchased enable schools to have a better overview of what sells well on the menu, which can reduce the buying and cooking of food that gets wasted. It also lets schools monitor the purchasing habits of their students. Sharing this information with parents over the internet can be useful in helping students eat a more balanced diet at school.

Wrapping up

The IoT is bringing many benefits to education. It improves the way students learn, it makes campuses safer, it helps schools and colleges become eco-friendly whilst saving money on energy, and itreduces the burden on canteen and finance staff – and this is only the beginning. As more devices become IoT-enabled, the potential for further benefits is enormous.

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