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How IoT technology is transforming higher education

By Max Burkhalter
September 28, 2017

Organizations worldwide are expected to spend more than $730 billion on technology associated with the internet of things this year, according to the International Data Corporation. Institutions of higher learning are likely to contribute to this amount as IoT-centered instructional workflows continue to gain traction in college classrooms. The driving force behind this movement toward advanced teaching technology is apparent: mobile device use among young adults. Here in the U.S., an estimated 92 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 use smartphones, analysts at Pew Research Center discovered. This development, coupled with the emergence of other technology-based educational trends such as distance and online learning, has pushed college information technology departments to embrace IoT devices and systems.

How exactly are universities employing this technology? There are several common use cases.

Improving student experiences through smart campuses
Over the last two decades, the cost of college has risen roughly 200 percent, according to U.S. News and World Report. This year, students enrolled full-time in private universities are paying an average of $41,000 in annual tuition and fees. Out-of-state students in public universities are paying just over $26,000, while those taking advantage of in-state rates are still wresting with more than $10,000 in yearly costs. In short, the cost of higher education is quite significant. Consequently, students expect their money to facilitate fulfilling campus experiences. With this in mind, many university administrators are deploying IoT technology initiatives designed to modernize campus spaces.

Most of these programs center on the development of smart campuses, EdTech Magazine reported. These connected environments include features that range from silly to serious. Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona boasts an IoT solution that falls into the former category, according to Campus Technology. Students that assemble for football games inside the college's massive Sun Devil Stadium are surrounded by discreetly installed sensors that measure noise levels and humidity for each seating section. Stadium staff use this data during cheering contests, analyzing noise level information to declare definitive winners. Of course, personnel at the facility also use the IoT technology present for more functional purposes. For example, the faucets at Sun Devil Stadium are equipped with sensors that notify building management if the water is left running once fans have exited - small details that can lead to serious cost savings.

"Here in the U.S., an estimated 92 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 use smartphones."

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland are envisioning an even more radical use for IoT fixtures on campus, according to EdTech. They want to harness connected technology to develop devices that collect energy from human and vehicle movement, an innovation that may reduce energy costs for the institution.

Of course, others are implementing IoT programs that more visibly benefit students. A significant number of colleges are looking into multifaceted security systems that employ facial recognition technology and advanced video monitoring. Some are even considering student identification solutions that act as all-in-one campus passes, giving residents the power to open doors and access their meal plans, while also collecting interaction data that can be used to improve safety, according to Educause.

Addressing the educational equation
In addition to smart campus innovations, institutions of higher education are releasing IoT solutions aimed at improving the learning experience. These deployments often address the ancillary processes that support the actual absorption of information, Digitalist Magazine reported. For instance, many universities are looking into connected classroom tools like digital highlighters and smart boards that streamline and improve the learning experience. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Philadelphia have rolled out mobile printing and projection applications that make it easier for students to gather resources and prepare for presentations, according to EdTech Magazine.

With innovations like these developing at campuses across the country, it appears that IoT technology will soon form the bedrock of modern higher education. As college IoT programs mature, Perle will be there to provide the critical networking infrastructure required to support smartphones and other IoT devices. Connect with us today to learn more about our work in the education space.


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