Creating Smarter Schools: Benefits and Applications of IoT in Education
January 8, 2020
The IoT (Internet of Things) field is rapidly growing, and experts are developing practical IoT applications, network opportunities and connectable devices. Smart building technology is evolving, and we’re starting to see IoT applications utilized in many different industries, including healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail and more.
As opportunities for IoT applications continue to expand, unique benefits of IoT in education will grow as well. IoT devices are currently being used to create enhanced educational environments for students of all ages, and there are many creative opportunities for IoT applications to make a positive impact in school settings.
But in order to explore the possibilities for IoT solutions in schools, it’s important to understand some background information about IoT technology.
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What does IoT mean?
IoT stands for Internet of Things. In simple terms, IoT is any network of devices connected to the internet for the purpose of exchanging information with one another, collecting data or controlling processes. There are nearly limitless options for IoT connected devices, and IoT is utilized in many different industries.
What is the role of IoT?
IoT connectivity allows for greater control over environments and processes. IoT networks offer customization and automation options that simply aren’t available when devices aren’t interconnected. The role of IoT can differ depending on the industry and application.
What are IoT devices?
IoT devices connect to the internet and transmit data. IoT devices include smart building technology, such as smart lighting, locks, thermostats, speakers, doorbells and more. Once IoT devices are installed, they can be connected to one another and controlled centrally using a computer, tablet or cell phone.
What is IoT in education?
IoT in education simply means using smart building IoT solutions in educational environments, such as school buildings, classrooms, buses and more.
With the growing popularity of devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, users have been quick to integrate smart home solutions into their daily lives. As smart building solutions evolve, educational experts and school administrators are beginning to recognize the benefits of using IoT technology on larger scale in school settings.
So what could this look like for educational buildings?
Case Studies: What are examples of IoT in Education?
IoT in Classrooms Makes Students More Productive
Mary Claire Wright, a computer science teacher at Davidson High School in Mobile, Alabama, shared about her positive experiences using Igor’s IoT platform in her classroom and throughout the school. Wright discussed how she uses IoT-enabled lighting settings in order to make lights in her classroom bright or dim, warm or cool. These subtle changes help redirect students’ attention.
”I subtly change the lighting depending on what we have going on. High school students can listen to a lecture for about seven minutes before their attention starts to wander, and you have to do something to reset their clock. I use the lights. It has worked like a charm.”
Keeping Students and Teachers Safe With IoT Applications in Schools
Wright also told us about some of the security features of the Igor-powered school. Each classroom is equipped with a “teacher assist” button programmed to alert key staff members and administrators in the event of an emergency.
”It creates a feeling that you are not alone, and that’s a huge relief. It has made a huge difference in our faculty.”
The school is also equipped with gunshot sensing technology, and IoT-connected devices such as colored lights and electronic displays automatically alert students, staff and local police in the event of an intruder. The Igor-powered security system is also programmed with protocols for other emergencies, such as severe weather threats. Different settings trigger different alerts throughout the school, but the overall outcome is a safer learning environment for students and teachers.
Watch more of Mary Claire Wright’s story here:
3 Key Benefits of IoT in Education
While IoT technology has taken off in many different industries, applications in K-12 schools haven’t followed as quickly. But, as the case study above illustrates, IoT offers many opportunities for safer schools and improved student outcomes.
1. Making Schools Safer with IoT Technology
IoT networks allow for customizable security plans that utilize connected devices such as colored lights, digital signage, door locks and sensors. Some schools use an IoT network to create different programs for severe weather threats, intruders and other security risks. IoT technology also enables solutions such as interconnected emergency alert buttons in classrooms. IoT security applications empower teachers to take action and keep their students safe.
2. Improving Student Outcomes with IoT Applications
Studies have shown that the fluorescent lighting typically found in schools can have a negative impact on student performance. Installing programmable IoT-connected LED lighting is just one way to improve the student experience in an educational setting.
3. Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings with IoT in Schools
IoT connected lighting and other devices can be programmed and automated. For example, lights can be set to a schedule, or they can be connected to occupancy sensors and programmed to shut off when a classroom is empty. IoT connectivity improves building efficiency and reduces energy waste, resulting in cost savings.
IoT Applications in Schools: K-12
How is IoT used in education?
IoT applications in schools and universities offer safer learning environments for students thanks to smart locks, integrated security systems, lighting protocols and more, all while providing more advanced learning opportunities for students of all abilities and backgrounds.
Check out some of the main applications that can be integrated into k-12 schools.
Custom Temperature Controls in a School Setting
School administrators or facility managers can set up unique smart thermostat programs for different classrooms, hallways and other school areas in order to maximize efficiency and make the spaces comfortable for different events. For example, temperature and lighting needs will be different depending on whether a gymnasium is being used for a PE class, graduation ceremony or school play.
IoT temperature controls allow for customization from room to room, and temperature settings can be scheduled for certain times of day. Preset scenes allow these environment adjustments to occur with just the click of a button.
Protecting Students with Programmable Security Protocols
Interconnected IoT devices can be controlled using an IoT platform such as Nexos by Igor. A school administrator can create a simple security protocol and initiate actions using a phone or tablet. A single scenario can include several different actions and programs triggered on various IoT devices. This application can provide protection in the event of a fire, tornado, intruder or other threat in a school.
For example, an intruder scenario can trigger automatic door locks, colored indicator lights, audio alerts played over the intercom and visual alerts on digital displays. All of these functions can be programmed to occur simultaneously when an administrator selects the intruder protocol option in the IoT software dashboard.
Attendance & Automating
With occupancy sensors and other tracking capabilities, IoT networks allow for increased automation. Smart sensors can detect empty desks and record student attendance, for example. Applications like this may seem small and inconsequential, but they start to add up. More automated tasks means teachers can dedicate more of their time to student learning and other essential job functions.
Monitoring Device Usage
IoT networks create easy opportunities to monitor device usage in a school environment. When students use IoT connected tablets and laptops, those devices can be programmed to automatically send usage and performance reports directly to teachers.
Automated motion sensors and occupancy indicators can also provide information about device and room usage, especially in spaces such as the school library or computer labs. Tracking this type of data allows school staff members to observe and report on how students are utilizing certain spaces and resources.
Providing Accommodations for Students with Disabilities and Special Needs
Whether it’s providing IoT devices, such as tablets, to facilitate classroom learning or creating calm environments for students with sensory needs, IoT solutions can create a safe, supportive school atmosphere for all students. IoT temperature and lighting controls are especially helpful tools for supporting students who may be sensitive to the physical classroom environment.
Augmented Reality Applications in Classrooms
As augmented reality technology becomes more advanced, accessible and affordable, it will begin to show up in more schools and classrooms. AR and VR environments pose interesting and innovative learning opportunities, and IoT connectivity and technological advancements mean immersive projections are more achievable than ever before.
IoT Applications in Education: Universities and Higher Education
What role does IoT play at universities?
Colleges and universities can greatly benefit from the implementation of IoT solutions. Security protocols can be automated across many buildings, keeping students safe even on large campuses. HVAC settings can be customized according to occupancy and usage, creating more efficient spaces and enabling energy savings on a large scale. Study spaces and classroom equipment can be tracked, monitored and reserved.
Many applications appropriate for K-12 education are also great ideas to implement in the context of higher education, but universities present some unique applications of IoT.
IoT Security Solutions at the University Level
IoT-enabled security devices can be linked and programmed according to different scenarios and protocols. Even sprawling university campuses can have responsive networks of IoT devices such as door locks, lighting sensors and other solutions that can be coordinated in the event of an emergency or threat.
Managing Campus Facilities and Monitoring Occupancy with IoT
Heating and cooling require a whole new level of management for large campuses. University facilities managers can utilize IoT devices and software to monitor and control energy consumption across campus and automate processes on a larger scale. Occupancy sensors can be connected to an IoT network in order to create programs to conserve energy when rooms or buildings aren’t in use.
Conference Room and Study Room Scheduling
With IoT occupancy sensors paired with devices such as tablets and laptops, students and staff can easily see when conference rooms and study spaces are occupied, and an IoT interface can provide scheduling options to facilitate room reservations.
IoT Asset Tracking in Higher Education
IoT-enabled devices such as rentable laptops, tablets and other equipment can be monitored at all times. Enhanced asset tracking capabilities allow professors and faculty members to keep tabs on equipment in order to make sure it’s in the right place and being used appropriately.
Engaging Students with IoT Learning Opportunities
Innovative IoT applications provide learning opportunities for university students. Young people studying engineering, programming, technology and other programs are likely to be interested in exploring the possibilities IoT solutions have to offer.
How Igor’s IoT Platform, Nexos, Enables IoT in Education
Nexos, Igor’s powerful IoT platform, is capable of countless integrations with various IoT-connected devices. With Nexos, users can explore innovative applications to suit their individual needs. Existing technology can be connected to new IoT solutions, and all devices can be controlled using one simple, user-friendly dashboard. Users can also set up a number of different programs and protocols using their interconnected IoT devices.
Igor’s IoT system utilizes PoE (Power Over Ethernet). PoE networks are wired, so they experience less downtime than networks utilizing WiFi. Reliable connectivity is essential, especially when it comes to important security protocols.
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