by Dan Matthews

Smarter classrooms lead to smarter students. That’s why schools nationwide are beginning to integrate the IoT into daily classroom life, upending the traditional model of classroom education.

The IoT describes our interconnected networks of technological devices and sensors. It still represents a vastly untapped field, but its applications today are widespread, ranging from fields like agriculture to education. Within the field of education, in particular, IoT’s potential is limitless and leaves students better equipped to live in an increasingly technological society.

The Role of IoT in Education Today

IoT tech can improve K-12 education by leaps and bounds by diversifying communication methods, improving monitoring of student work and attendance, and allowing for increased student and teacher flexibility.

If there’s the need to transition to remote learning, for instance, long-range Bluetooth technology can provide access to the classroom from nearly anywhere. And that’s not to mention the large quantities of paper IoT education can save, contributing to global conservation efforts. Without IoT implementation, the U.S. school system is estimated to consume around 34 billion pieces of paper each year.

However, the Internet of Things doesn’t come without its risks and drawbacks, the same as with any emerging technology. Cybersecurity concerns are still palpable, with around 70% of IoT devices estimated to contain security vulnerabilities. Internet accessibility and the costs of regularly buying and maintaining technology are additional concerns that IoT proponents are working quickly to resolve to encourage widespread implementation of the technology.

Interactive Whiteboards

One of the most popular and pioneering uses of IoT in the classroom comes in the form of interactive whiteboards. These smart boards have largely taken the place of chalkboards, projector slides, and whiteboards. Smartboards offer educators the chance to develop more interactive lessons, including games and other features, while they offer students the ability to partake in hands-on learning. Visual aids can clarify new concepts or even display assignments.

Smart HVAC Systems

Believe it or not, classroom temperatures have been shown time and time again to impact student academic performance, affecting cognition and memory, among other things. IoT temperature sensors sense when a room becomes too hot and know just the right time to inject cool air or heat into a room.

Smart HVAC systems can also detect when the room is empty, say during lunchtime or weekends, and adjust temperatures accordingly for maximum HVAC efficiency. Making use of only one centralized control system and leaving the rest to technological intuition, IoT can help reduce utility bills while creating an environment conducive to learning.

Improved School Security

Unfortunately, school security is still an acute concern at K-12 schools across America, as rates of gun violence remain at an all-time high. Children go to school to learn, which is only possible when they feel safe and secure in their environments. IoT is helping schools meet increased safety benchmarks through improved school security methodologies.

IoT devices installed on door locks can help streamline wireless lockdown protocols. With the touch of a single button, the entire school can be placed under lockdown, while still offering the chance for authorized individuals, like educators and students, to access such areas.

In the event of emergencies like security breaches or natural disasters, IoT also facilitates the distribution of emergency alerts to teachers and students. Connected loudspeakers can also issue step-by-step directions during a crisis. Adaptations can be made for individuals with hearing loss or visual impairments, expanding access to safety for all.

Additional IoT Innovations in the Classroom

The above innovations represent just a handful of the emerging IoT technologies being employed in classrooms across America. Additional IoT technologies allow for easier tracking of student attendance, the scanning of physical notes into digital files, and the introduction of wearable tech to monitor student engagement. The Internet of Things is also bringing virtual reality and new online communications tools to classrooms worldwide for an enhanced learning experience.

Preparation for the Workforce

The goal of a well-rounded education is for students to expand their capacities for logic and reasoning, which then allows them to adapt their skills to a constantly changing world. One thing that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon is technology, but that doesn’t mean it won’t change. Already in the past decade, we’ve seen the rise and fall of all kinds of mobile apps, cloud-based systems, and artificial intelligence.

Looking toward the future, technology is a great skill for students to showcase on their resumes when they first enter the workforce. In their chosen fields, students can then expand upon their technological capabilities or branch into entirely new tech fields.

Whether today’s students grow up to become doctors who make use of bionic eye technology or environmentalists set on disrupting forest fires through loud sound waves, technology is poised to become a part of every occupation in the near future. IoT promises to be an essential component of these technological shifts, making early exposure to the Internet of Things instrumental in shaping the next generation of leaders.