IoT in Education: In and Out of the Classroom

What kinds of solutions are bringing the IoT to schools, and how can these tech tools improve the experience for students and teachers?

By Max Burkhalter
January 24, 2022
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In some ways, education is unique — no other sector carries the same burden of shaping the minds of the next generation. In other ways, schools are just like other workplaces. This similarity extends to technology. High-tech solutions that are strengthening efficiency and cost-effectiveness in business, finance and government can also improve workflows in educational settings.

The internet of things (IoT), which is made up of connected and sensor-equipped devices, is coming to schools. The fact that educational networks store personally identifiable data about students means these deployments have to be rolled out carefully — but that has not stopped the march of technology. This is perhaps unsurprising, considering that the IoT has recently made strides in other heavily regulated spaces such as finance and healthcare.

School administrators are now faced with an intriguing challenge. They have to find the best possible technology tools to resolve their individual issues, and deploy those systems while staying within their budgets. Educators that succeed in these efforts can become leaders in a new generation of tech-infused education.

The Many Possibilities of School-based IoT Deployments

What makes something a smart device? The definition is deliberately wide open. Anything equipped with digital sensors, capable of capturing or processing data, can be an IoT device. Schools that begin an IoT deployment by considering all their options may emerge with impressive new processes.

Automatic Schools

EdTech pointed out that this may mean connecting all lighting and clock systems in classrooms. Making these systems into smart devices — the same kind that might be found in tech-equipped smart homes — can build efficiency. Making sure the lights turn on and off at the right times can save energy, and running digital synchronized clocks can ensure students are moving from one class to another in sync.

The Bus of the Future

Beyond the classroom, EdTech noted that school buses can be equipped with sensors and WiFi networking equipment to make them part of the district's digital network. A "smart bus" can provide alerts when engine parts are suffering from wear and tear, powering a proactive maintenance strategy and making breakdowns rarer. These buses can even transmit automatic alerts when facing delays, so kids and parents know where their bus is.

Identity Management

Smart devices could also become a part of school security systems. Michael Flood, senior vice president and general manager of Kajeet, told EdTech it's possible to give faculty members and students ID badges that transmit radio frequency identification (RFID) signals. This type of RFID tag is commonly used to locate merchandise in warehouses and could help verify identities and track locations during emergencies.

A Market on the Rise

How eager are districts to invest in educational IoT systems? According to a January 2022 report from Kenneth Research, the desire for economic recovery will drive more spending on educational tech products, including IoT tools.

The researchers found that the greater availability of smart devices in recent years is a good sign for educational IoT growth. Coupled with the rise of cloud computing, these tech tools are enabling the creation of a new class of smart schools, decked out with many IoT-powered efficiencies.

The vision of a smart home, with everything from temperature to mood lighting controlled by a central computer, is in reach for public spaces — schools included. With data maintained in the cloud and sensors in every key device, these spaces may soon provide a smooth educational experience.

Rising Tech Requirements

To power the new generation of IoT technology, schools will need to build their networking power. Perle devices such as powerful, flexible console servers and fiber media converters can connect faculty and students in tech-infused educational environments. Read Perle's educational success stories to learn more.

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