What does the internet of things mean for education?

IoT workshop kids _ steveonjavaI’ve been tracking the internet of things for a while, and am still trying to imagine how it fits into education.  I’m not sure if the IoT will hit academic with the wave force of the Web in the 1990s, or become a minor tangent.  What do schools have to do with Twittering refrigerators?

Here are a few possible intersections.

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  1. Changing up the campus technology space.  IT departments will face supporting more technology strata in a more complex ecosystem.  Help desks and CIOs alike will have to consider supporting sensors, embedded chips, and new devices.
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     Standards, storage, privacy, and other policy issues will ramify.

  2. Mutating the campus.  We’ve already adjusted campus spaces by adding wireless coverage, enabling users and visitors to connect from nearly everywhere.  What happens when benches are chipped, skateboards sport sensors, books carry RFID, and all sorts of new, mobile devices dot the quad?  One British school offers an early example.
  3. New forms of teaching and learning.
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     Some of these take preexisting forms and amplify them, like tagging animals in the wild or collecting data about urban centers.  The IoT lets us gather more information more easily and perform more work upon it.  Then we could also see really new ways of learning, like having students explore an environment (built or natural) by using embedded sensors, QR codes, and live datastreams from items and locations.  Instructors can build treasure hunts through campuses, nature preserves, museums, or cities.  Or even more creative enterprises.

  4. New forms of research.  As with #3, but at a higher level.  Researchers can gather and process data using networked swarms of devices.  Plus academics studying and developing the IoT in computer science and other disciplines.
  5. An environmental transformation.  People will increasingly come to campus with experiences of a truly interactive, data-rich world.  They will expect a growing proportion of objects to be at least addressable, if not communicative.
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     This population will become students, instructors, and support staff.  They will have a different sense of the boundaries between physical and digital than we now have in 2014. Will this transformed community alter a school’s educational mission or operations?

Which of these seems likely?  What are we missing?

(photo by steveonjava)

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5 Responses to What does the internet of things mean for education?

  1. Help me “get” this:

    “The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing-like devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. ”

    JARGON ALERT: What on earth does that MEAN?


    RED FLAG:QUESTION: How the heck do we control the whole Internet to materialize it into identifiable things that can be embedded in “identifiable code”?

    Most “normal” people I know, myself included though I might not emphasize the “normal” component, wouldn’t know most code if it ran into them at a Target parking lot! Sure, there are great “hour of coding” resources available, but is coding itself and doing furniture (e.g. of a “thing” — meant to be a metaphor) re-arrangement of the whole Internet really going to fly?

    Just IMHO, this is one of the most absurd ideas I have ever heard, and I always reel with disbelief that it is serious. I think of it as more a gigantic joke on web denizens: “Ok, all you social media users who don’t know a thing about the actual origins or the Internet and think email and the web are synonymous, now we want you to tag and embed identifiable infrastructure on ‘computing-like’ devices.”

    My microwave has a computer chip in it? Sure it has single-purpose limitations, but should I start to identify and embed it as an “identifiable” and “computer-like” device? Should I “embed” it under my pillow and go nite-nite with it?

    Sorry, but I am going to call you to put more critique into this one, Bryan, and that includes my own skepticism and “attitude problem” toward this terminology and definition. Set me on path again, please, Bryan, and “identify” what, on my “computer-like” devices”

    This concept is simply full of holes and lacks any pedagogical applicability or value from my limited point of view. I fully admit that I may be lacking, dumb, completely behind-the-times on this concept, but seriously, Bryan, you’re good at textual analysis as it pertains to digital cultures, so help us out here!

    When can we simply call a bunch of bunk a bunch of bunk? And, maybe that bunk represents my own limitations, in which case you can call me a “bunker”! I can admit to being far off track, but it’s not for several years that a concept such as this has eluded me.

    I spent the full day doing research online about constructivism and personal learning networks and such. As amorphous as those may seem, they are as substantial as, say, the Eifel Tower, in theoretical and innovative technological approaches for the benefit of 21st century learners.

  2. Bryan, we deployed some iBeacons for the recent WikiMania event at the Barbican Centre in London. They were placed near the doors of the 8 conference rooms, auditorium, etc and allowed everyone to check on the sessions coming up. (A WiFi network was deployed throughout the venue).. In a conference centre with a potentially confusing layout, spread across several floors, they worked well as a service to everyone.
    To get around the coding issues raised, a downloadable App from the official Android and iOS stores was made available with, of course, the result that any/all services provided by the technology were available to all for their use. It worked well, and was, I feel, a successful idea. The only downside was an increased use of battery power on the mobile devices – easily mitigated by a quick charge or a portable extra power pack in my case.

  3. Bryan, maybe a way of personalized learning can be done with the IoT. It is recorded where and when a student was learning in the most efficient way (may be with the help of a Muse device etc.). Detecting such patterns could help students to improve their personal learning skills.

    Or a students declares that to pass a difficult exams that highest priority form him/her. The IoT could help to reach the goals: the refrigerator does not automatically reorder junk food, but healthy brain food; the students could get a motivating feedback if he is not doing sports any longer etc.

    I think we really do not have many good and useful examples how to use the IoT. Probably we have find more holistic solutions which will help us and bring us further.

  4. Pingback: The age of disintegrated computing | Bryan Alexander

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