How will the Internet of Things transform the classroom?
A house that can warn you about bad weather and change the thermostat accordingly, cars that can navigate accidents by themselves, smart street lamps – the so-called Internet of Things is going to affect every aspect of our lives, and that includes schools.
In a nutshell the idea is that eventually every day physical objects will all have sensors attached to them connecting them to the Internet through both wired and wireless networks. These sensors will then provide us all with any information and data we might need in our daily lives.
In schools, textbooks are as good a place to start as any – QR codes can be placed inside them so students are able link quickly and easily to reviews, and further reading resources on the web. It can benefit younger kids, too – toddlers learning to read could be helped along the way by touching a sensor on an object which spells out the pronunciation phonetically.
Ninja Blocks open other possibilities. They connect a series of sensors to the web without the user having to have any serious programming experience.
Developers are currently looking at apps that use the blocks with textbooks. Students will be able to read a chemistry textbook and have the results of the experiments they are doing at that moment incorporated into it.
Then there’s the (sadly inevitable) darker side of all this new tech – schools and universities in the US have already started implementing Internet of Things ID cards that let them keep track of student’s location at all times, and if they’re playing hooky, marking their work accordingly.
What could and what should be achieved by bringing the Internet of Things into schools is the big question – will we be seeing classrooms like the deck of the Starship Enterprise? Can this technology invade students’ privacy?
The truth is it’s hard to know. None of us knew the impact of apps on education four years ago and yet at a recent count there were 70,000 educational apps in the iTunes store alone, not to mention ones for Android.
It’s hard to know what’s going to happen in the future but it’d be naïve to think technology wasn’t go to have just as much an effect on schools as, well, everything else.