As of 2015, 73% of all U.S. teenagers had access to a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. More than 44 million students now learn in classrooms with high-speed internet connections, up from just 4 million five years ago, according to analysis by the nonprofit broadband advocacy group EducationSuperHighway.
With that foundation in place, it's easy to see how the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to transform education. The IoT is already beginning to change the way people teach and learn, from K-12 to higher education.
- Teachers can use IoT and connected devices to create “smart lesson plans” adapted to the specific needs of their K-12 classrooms. A teacher who provides notes over IoT-enabled smartphones and tablets can use a program to see exactly who is checking their notes and who is not. It is also possible to see which section of notes students access the most. The teacher can adjust his or her lesson plan to focus more on this area, without forcing young students to speak up and admit that they have trouble learning a certain aspect of the lesson.
In higher education, students are moving away from paper books and toward more convenient tablets and laptops. The use of connected devices is more convenient for professors, too, because instead of gauging student performance using pen and paper, they can gather data electronically and then determine which students need the most individual attention and care.
Outside of the classroom, universities and K-12 schools can use connected devices to monitor their students, staff, resources, and equipment at a reduced operating cost, which saves everyone money.
Although the IoT holds great promise, most IT professionals in education are already overwhelmed with managing the existing Things needed to run their schools and institutions. For instance, the University of Southern California (USC), has 10 to 20 separate IT groups, with perhaps two people managing IT for 1,000 users. IT doesn’t have sufficient time to spend several minutes inputting asset information, running reports, and other Thing Management tasks manually. Manual work only leads to higher expenses, in an environment where budget pressures continue to mount.
The Security Priority
Increased IoT presence also means a larger network with more access points, and increased security vulnerabilities. Schools need the tools to safeguard confidential data. Education institutions proposing IoT solutions should also take steps to thoroughly educate all staff involved. Cybersecurity can be a risk if there is any weak link in the chain. If 99 out of 100 staff are educated fully on IoT security measures, the untrained individual can still expose the entire network.
A Long List for IT
As school districts and universities look forward to the advancements IoT will bring, most are still in the process of more fundamental requirements, including:
Managing IT infrastructure powering the school or university, including Things such as servers, lab computers, and networking equipment.
Onboarding and offboarding faculty and staff.
Being certain that teachers and students have the technology they need to prepare students for bright futures, including initiatives such as ever-more-popular loaner and one-to-one programs.
Closely monitoring and reducing costs in the budget-aware education space.
Making audits less cumbersome and time-consuming.
In higher education, managing tens of thousands of devices and even more software licenses.
Improving data quality by having a single source of truth about all assets, including ownership, useful life, depreciation, decommissioning, and more.
Our job is to equip students with all they need to be successful. The 1:1 iPad program impacts student outcomes significantly, but the logistics behind it are complicated and need to be invisible to users. That’s where Oomnitza comes in.
Melissa Gray, System Engineer, District Technology Office, Lake Zurich School District
Manual, Time-Consuming Efforts
Despite these heavy demands, most responsible for managing assets rely on time-consuming, work-intensive processes. They may have to dig for information housed in departmental systems that inevitably hold different data. These legacy asset management tactics result in poor data quality, higher costs, and unnecessary manual effort. They also prevent K-12 and higher education from having a single source of truth about the machines that power their students, staff, and institutions.
IT professionals in education need to be aware of changes in the lifecycle of every asset, whether it is fully operational, stolen, lost, in need of maintenance, or ready to be decommissioned. Tracking Things accurately is essential for security, budgeting, forecasting, auditing, compliance, reporting, employee on-boarding and off-boarding, and other key business processes—all this in addition to the fundamentals that educators and students need for effective learning.
Smarter Thing Management
More automated asset management allows IT professionals in educational institutions to operate more efficiently and cost effectively. They also can worry less about security breaches in an environment where compliance and safeguarding sensitive student information is an absolute must.
With Thing Management from Oomnitza, schools and universities have access to all the information in a single place they need to optimize asset utilization and reduce the manual effort. As assets become crucial to cost reduction, increased security, and more effective learning environments, IT professionals in education are looking for smarter, more automated Thing Management solutions that will allow them to take advantage of the exciting new opportunities offered by the IoT.