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How IoT
in education
helps students
and teachers
in K-12 settings

Author: Poornima Apte

Whether it's budget constraints or security, today's schools face a number of challenges, many of which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, digitization and the Internet of Things in education, or IoT in education, can offer help.

K-12 challenges IoT in education can help address

The K-12 education landscape struggles with various challenges. A few problems and solutions include:

Manual processes

Schools follow many administrative record-keeping processes: They have to effectively ID who needs to be in the school and when. They have to communicate with parents and students about events and other information. They have to maintain student records about grades, lunch money balances and extracurricular activities.

Digital IDs can help address the challenges that come from such disparate data sources. Adult visitors could be able to receive IDs on phones, too. These digital IDs could be tied into IoT in education where people-counting sensors or other devices are deployed.

Weak security

Securing schools is a top priority for administrators and all stakeholders. Institutions implement a variety of security measures such as locking doors and using cameras and uniforms. Effective surveillance everywhere will need to promptly take into account qualified personnel and identify them correctly. In the 2017–18 school year, 83% of public schools used security cameras for monitoring purposes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Intelligent video using IoT can help deliver a centralized and often single-touch approach to security. Door locks, sensors and colored signage can merge to form effective security solutions. Administration can create a playbook for security in the event of different situations, whether due to an intrusion or weather-related problem. The advantage of IoT for students and staff is that the coordination of responses can be executed through a mobile tablet and all that information can be centralized. Such quick and universal access to all responsible stakeholders helps with speed of response when problems do arise.

Teachers have to do more with less

Daily attendance, ensuring all students catch up with lessons and organizing field trips were already challenging. But the hybrid model of learning that the pandemic ushered has challenged some s teachers who find it difficult to keep a pulse on how well students are faring. While teachers did receive some training for remote learning, they have reported gaps that did not address how to work with unhoused students or ones with disabilities, according to the Rand Corporation.

IoT for students can help to deliver intelligent classrooms and can help teachers pace teaching to students' learning levels. Children have different styles of learning, so IoT applications in education, such as electronic textbooks with immersive and personalized content, can help students work on a more level playing field.

Aging buildings

Many schools are getting by in buildings that are decades old with fraying infrastructure. The cost of maintaining grounds and these buildings is increasing. A 2021 report surveying over 4,000 schools in 2021 found that improving internal air quality in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge. Schools cited existing building designs as the biggest impediment to implementing safer air quality measures.

The sheer number of buildings means even small efficiencies in energy costs can help lead to cost savings. IoT-controlled sensors with people-counting technologies can automatically turn the heat up or down and also adjust lighting accordingly. Sensors attached to critical equipment can play a key role in predictive maintenance and help ensure that building life cycle management is made easier.

How educators can secure IoT for students

As schools digitize and the number of IoT in education solutions increase, cyber security becomes a concern. Security in IoT for students is a multi-pronged approach and includes threat intelligence, educating all educators about social engineering flaws, and constantly scanning traffic for pattern abnormalities that might indicate spambots at work.

While some of the more routine aspects of cyber security, such as patches for malware, might seem unnecessary, it’s advisable for schools to stay on top of the latest bug fixes and layer security protocols. IT departments or related personnel need to inventory IoT assets and ensure they are cordoned off according to network segmentation principles. In the event of a security event, such measures can help cordon off the problem site without affecting a larger school network.

We are just scratching the surface with respect to IoT for students, IoT applications in education and advanced technologies for use in schools. As the learning landscape changes, IoT in education and related security protocols will be key in safeguarding students and meeting their academic needs now and in the future.

Discover more ways that IoT in education is shaping the future of learning.