Why an IoT solution is what your educational business needs
The Internet of Things makes its way into business solutions across many industries. The global IoT market size is estimated at $381billon in 2021 and is expected to reach $1,855 billion in 2028. Education might not be the first industry that comes to mind while considering this topic. Still, the enormous potential of IoT can also be put to good use here.
What are the benefits of IoT in education? Is it of any use in a Covid-stricken industry? What are the main challenges of building an IoT solution for your school, college, or university? You will find the answers to these questions in this article.
Which problems can the use of IoT in education help to solve?
The educational sector faces numerous challenges, trying to keep up with the fast pace of the world around. New technologies can be instrumental in coping with at least some of them. IoT solutions for education can also make their contribution. Here are some of the problems it can help to solve.
The shortcomings of standard tests
Standardized tests are often used to assess students’ skills. However, such an evaluation method has its cons. Firstly, it fails to eliminate bias at educational establishments. Unsurprisingly, those who can afford test prep classes tend to have higher scores.
Secondly, teachers lack feedback on the students' learning strategies. And thirdly, standardized exams encourage sticking to proven tactics and cannot promote creativity. Moreover, the way tests are conducted often provides unreasonable pressure, affecting students’ performance.
Implementing IoT solutions for education may provide educators with new ways to assess the students’ progress. They could do it without disrupting the learning process, creating more favorable conditions for the students.
Low student engagement
Most teachers still use the traditional ‘lecture-discuss-test’ approach. However, it frequently fails to engage students and enhance information retention. Slow learners lose concentration if the learning material is too challenging. For those quick to grasp new concepts, a slow pace may cause the same result, losing concentration.
The question of motivation becomes even more important if we consider the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on both students’ and teachers’ morale. See the results of the EdWeek Research Center study below.
The adoption of active interaction-based learning or curriculum personalization might improve the situation. This is where the IoT systems may come in handy, gathering data on the mood in the classrooms and suggesting improvements to the teaching process.
Poor safety monitoring in campuses
As of December 2021, there have been 34 school shootings in the US this year or totaling 92 since 2018. Many schools still don’t have the infrastructure or a contingency plan to deal with abuse, sexual assault, theft, etc., on their premises. IoT in schools could help build a new generation of security systems, making students and teachers feel safer.
The impact of Covid-19 on IoT trends for education
The recent pandemic posed new challenges for the education industry. In particular, the transition to distance learning made monitoring and managing the learning process difficult. As students return to classrooms, the latter should be made safe. IoT devices for education can assist in solving both those problems.
For instance, a group of Bulgarian scientists described the IoT Framework, which could be used for distance learning management. IоТ sensors, including a web camera, a microphone, and some wearable devices, could collect real-time data for each student. A computer or a smartphone could get that information together and transfer it to the IoT hub in the Cloud for storage and processing.
Machine Learning (ML) and Stream Analytics would help to analyze the data and promptly provide lecturers with information on the dashboard. The latter would be able to react, changing his approach to teaching or examination.
The use of IoT technology in the education sector can also prevent the spread of Covid-19. A network of thermal cameras can monitor the premises for people with elevated body temperature. With an AI analyzing this and data from other smart sensors, ill people can be spotted even more effectively. On top of it, the system, analyzing camera feeds or the data from the smart wristbands, could remind the staff and students to keep their social distance.
The benefits of IoT in education industry
We’ve already mentioned some possible use cases of IoT in the education sector. Now let’s dwell on why spending time and money on implementing this technology is worth it.
Collecting real-time data. IoT devices can provide schools and colleges with tons of data for learning progress monitoring, overseeing the professional training of teachers, and so on. As we’ve already mentioned, thatdata can be used for better testing and grading or boosting classroom engagement.
More efficient school management. Managing a large education institution is a tricky business. It involves substantial people management across all roles, distributing funds properly, keeping track of supplies, facility demands and dealing with lots of administrative work.
IoT solutions allow educators to build an advanced modern framework, engaging all the stakeholders — principals, teachers, students, and parents — in improving the well-being of an institution. In the long run, IoT devices can reduce the operating costs of an educational institution.
Improved safety. On-demand video-monitoring tools, smoke and vaping sensors, student escort drones are only some of the possible security IoT applications. With their help, parents, students, and teachers can become more confident in the safety of the learning environment. Moreover, IoT can assist in promoting positive habits and make it easier for the administration to keep the institution in order.
The examples of IoT applications in education
IoT has the potential to transform the education industry. However, you might wonder whether it has already been put to the test in real circumstances. Here are some of the IoT education examples.
C-Pen is a portable scanner, allowing students to save written text online. Moreover, the user can translate it to over 40 languages, find definitions of certain words, create memos, and even listen to how the text sounds. It bridges the gap between paper-based and digital materials, so no notes will be lost, for instance. C-Pen can make learning much easier for people with disabilities such as dyslexia.
The University of New South Wales platform
IoT is used to monitor and optimize energy consumption in this educational institution. The system has access to power data for HVAC systems. It can control heating, cooling, and lighting, helping to minimize energy waste and lower university operating costs. Moreover, the platform helps to forecast energy consumption costs very accurately.
Implemented in the UK, this system uses smart cards to automate some operations, boost security, and improve the student experience. Magicard allows educators to monitor attendance, regulate access to medical and transportation facilities, and allow students to pay in the cafeteria even without cash or a credit card. Each interaction can be traced to determine the student’s location.
Virginia colleges use a security-enhancing platform, which helps to identify potentially dangerous situations and alerts all students in case of an emergency. Also, it controls the lighting around the campus, allowing residents to walk through well-lit streets after classes.
The Kajeet platform allows school bus drivers to monitor the behavior of passengers. Also, the parents can see their child’s location in real-time. The Wi-Fi network in a bus allows students to access learning materials and do their homework on the way to school.
The use of IoT in higher education
The IoT can be of use in any educational institution from kindergarten to university. Nonetheless, its effect in higher education seems to be the most prominent.
Paper books become an anachronism, as students have all the necessary information at their fingertips — PCs, tablets, smartphones. Universities can analyze their study habits and allow students to learn at their own pace. Moreover, smart devices can conduct advanced monitoring of students’ progress and engagement individually.
It allows teachers to move towards personalized learning. Now they can pay more attention to students, which need individual approach and care. It improves student motivation and outcomes, decreasing the risk of dropout.
Operating cost optimization with the help of IoT systems can make higher education more affordable in the long run. On top of it, students get safer and more comfortable campuses. For instance, getting a text from a smart washing machine letting you know that the laundry is done is becoming a reality. Also, wearable devices can be used to monitor students’ health for signs of stress and fatigue.
Challenges of IoT Deployment
The adoption of IoT in education has a whole array of benefits. However, it comes with some challenges you should be aware of:
High implementation cost. IoT solutions are complex systems requiring powerful hardware and software. Also, you’d need a skillful team with experience in software development, data science, etc. On top of it, there are maintenance costs and, possibly, hardware license fees. If you have some specific project in mind and want to determine its cost — contact us, our team can provide you with a quote.
The complexity of IoT device onboarding. Large systems can include thousands of such devices. Therefore, provisioning and managing all of them manually is difficult as well as error-prone. You’d need automated onboarding to enable the system to recognize devices dynamically and assign them to the appropriate network.
Significant network requirements. If your sensors provide the system with a powerful torrent of data, they will require proper bandwidth to transfer them. Make sure your existing network is up to the task!
Strict data security requirements. Your system should be ready to withstand a cyberattack or minimize the risk of data loss. Multiple interconnected devices and sensors provide hackers with plenty of attack vectors. You’d have to think through security at multiple levels, including containment of the IoT networks.
Due to the importance and complexity of security in IoT, let’s consider it in more detail in the next chapter.
How to Build a Secure IoT Network?
Protecting IoT devices and information they exchange requires the whole security strategy rather than a single technology. You’d need to implement multiple security safeguards, protecting every layer of the infrastructure. IoT containment strategy is required to make device onboarding simple and secure.
Also, it ensures the delivery of the right network resources, allowing to run the system efficiently as well as securely.
IoT containment requires all users, devices, and apps within the network to have assigned profiles. The latter define roles, authorization, accessible information, etc. The profiles are related to all access points in the network. Each device is placed in a “virtual container.” Thus, multiple devices and networks can use the same infrastructure but remain isolated from each other. Security rules are applied for every container. Such segregation ensures that if a breach occurs, it will be localized and won’t affect the whole network.
Aside from IoT containment, multi-layered security is required. Users should be authorized with specific access rights. Devices have to be authenticated and compliant with the security rules. The network should be able to block, limit bandwidth, and control access to any application. Use secure diversified code to protect the network from embedded malware, code exploits, and potential back doors.
Harness the power of IoT for your educational institution together with Menklab
The Internet of Things can transform the education industry in multiple ways. It helps to assess students’ progress more precisely, boost their engagement, optimize the educational institution’s operations, and bolster security. Moreover, it can be used to manage remote learning and make schools, colleges, and universities more virus-resilient. Despite its cost and complexity, IoT is destined to gain popularity in education.
To overcome the challenges mentioned above and make your IoT framework most effective and secure, you’d need a team of experienced professionals. Menklab has such a team. We’ve completed multiple projects for clients from various industries, including education. In particular, we’ve developed Nurture, a preschool management and communications platform.
Nurture utilizes a network of cameras and facial recognition technology to provide parents with live footage of their children. There is no need to switch between dozens of camera feeds manually, trying to find your offspring! Also, Nurture provides entry and exit points security monitoring. Therefore, for example, no child will leave the premises unattended.
Contact us, and we will be glad to discuss your ideas. Moreover, we will do our best to make them come true!