The internet of things (IoT) is a network of physical objects that are connected to the internet and, by extension, each other. These objects—sensors, smartphones, watches, electronics items—transmit data via the internet to the cloud, providing a smarter experience for the user. Research firm IDC had earlier reported that the worldwide IoT market will grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020.
The learning and education domain, with no exception, falls well within the gamut of the IoT. In fact, through effective use of technology, it is possible to create an infrastructure that can meet education-related needs of the country. The launch of smart classes in government schools is also expected to change the face of education. Thus, the implementation of the IoT in the education industry with outright accountability will improve the quality of the learning process, as well as let teachers remotely address students through video-conferencing and other systems.
The IoT has become a part of everyday lives and the future too will be dominated by the same. Its prevalence in the education sector is increasingly becoming noteworthy. Classrooms today don’t just restrict to the traditional teaching and learning methods, but also extend to the smart ways of teaching.
Using high-quality digital materials will ensure that every learner finds it a joy to go to school—this can cut down the drop-out rate. For students, the use of tablets, smartphones and computers is no longer limited to just entertainment—these are effective tools for learning. Online learning also saves a significant amount of cost, time and effort.
Institutions have started developing infrastructure to facilitate ICT-enabled education. A number of institutions, especially in the private sector, are adopting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) as a trend to enhance connectivity and take education to the next level. The use of robotics, smart classes, 24×7 connectivity, Wi-Fi coverage to multi-device support are some of the key areas institutions are leveraging on, driving the adoption of the IoT in the education sector.
Advanced e-learning applications allow students to work at their own pace through a course; it increases both satisfaction and course-completion rates. Teachers can provide one-to-one instruction and seamless student assessment. Through cloud technology, instructors can collect data on student performance. In addition, technology in education allows teachers to share and collaborate with each another.
With educational institutions investing in enterprise-grade networking and connectivity solutions, it is likely to create a lot of data, which needs to be stored, retrieved and shared securely. The data also needs to be stored for future monitoring and analysis—to enhance the e-learning ecosystem. Here one must remember that increased adoption of connected devices by students and teachers leads to storage constraint issues on their smartphones and email accounts. So, institutions must plan for a robust data storage infrastructure to attain operational efficiencies.
The most essential elements to enable the IoT in the education sector are technology, efficient network for data transmission, data storage and data analysis.
All of this requires innovative drive technologies, which increase reliability and performance, and deliver the highest possible capacities that educational institutions require. Installation of accurate storage product portfolio—including solid state drive (SSD), solid state hybrid drive (SSHD) and hard disc drive (HDD)—which is optimised for cloud computing and storage applications, as well as external products that are tailored for personal clouds, is important. Then there are concerns around security, which have made monitoring of schools imperative, for which institutions need a well-organised video-surveillance IoT infrastructure.
In addition, the IoT would allow for better operational efficiency in every type of learning environment. Connected devices can enable educators to perform dynamic classroom interventions, and classroom discipline can be far easily enforced with vibrations that are similar to silent notifications on a mobile phone.
With the increasing focus on Digital India, the IoT is all set to automate access to information in any type of educational setting. According to a recent Gartner report, India is expected to account for 5-6% of the global pie of the total revenue generated from the IoT industry worldwide by 2020. Education, as one of the key sectors, will have an important contribution towards that.
The author is vice-president & general manager for Asia-Pacific and China sales, Seagate Technology