What is IOT (Internet of things) you might ask. It’s been a growing topic of conversation for some time now. Put in the simplest term it means anything that has an on and off button and is connected to the internet for receiving, analysing, storing or sending data. This could mean anything, from the watch that you wear to airplanes that can be controlled from a remote location. According to the analyst firm Gartner, by the year 2020 we’ll have over 26 billion connected devices. That could mean people connected to people, people connected to things and things connected to things.
The new rule of the future is going to be “Anything that can be connected will be connected”. Take for example that when you set an alarm to wake up and that alarm goes off it not only wakes you up but also brews your coffee, sets the right temperature of water for your bath, puts on the television to bring you the latest updates from around the globe and all this before you even put a foot out of your bed. This is all done by simply getting the network of interconnected things/devices that have embedded sensors, network connectivity, software and necessary electronics that collect and exchange data.
IOT the very way of our life
To show how far we have come with technology and connectivity, we have smart watches such as Fitbit, Garmin to name a few that have changed the way we look at time. We have one device that not only tells us the time but also tracks the number of steps, calories and our heart rate. This watch is actually connected to our phone so with just one flick of the wrist one can tell who is calling or what messages have been received without having to dig through pockets or handbags.
IOT is making its presence felt in Health care as well. Doctors can now remotely monitor and communicate with their patients. Patients and health care providers can benefit from this. Whether data comes from foetal monitors, electrocardiograms, temperature monitors or blood glucose levels, tracking this information is vital for some patients. Many of this requires follow up interaction with healthcare professionals. With smarter devices that deliver more valuable data it can reduce the need for direct patient – physician interaction.
Take for instance in the sporting field, minute chips are being attached to balls and bats which will transmit information of how fast the ball is travelling and a batsman’s moves, the time, the angles, the pressure on the bat at different positions, data of the muscle stretch if he’s hit a six so on and so forth. Formula One cars are also being fitted with these sensors which relays information on the minutest moves being made by the driver. Chips are also being put into wearable devices of sportsmen to detect sub- optimal action of any body parts to show signs of stress or strain which will help in the early detection of injuries and take preventive measures.
IOT has had an impact across all fields, be it industries, government, small or large businesses and even for personal consumption. IBM, Google, Intel, Microsoft and Cisco are some of the top players in the IOT spectrum.
With billions of devices being connected security becomes a big issue. How can people make sure that their data is safe and secure? How do we ensure privacy of the data being shared? This is one of the major concerns in the IOT that becomes a hot topic. Another issue is with all these billions of devices sharing data companies will be faced with the problem of how to store, track, analyse and make vast sense of the information being generated. Companies are monitoring the network segments to identify anomalous traffic and to take action if necessary.
IOT’s presence in Education
Now that we have a fair understanding of IOT let’s see what impact it’s had on the education sector. The only constant in our lives is change and learning. From the get go we learn, be it to walk, talk or run. We adapt to the changing times and constantly learn from it. Education or learning as we know it in the broader sense is the most important of all and the one that decides which way we handle those changes to impact us and the world.
Today's world is fast paced and to keep up with this we need an infusion of speed with learning. From the classroom assignments, lectures, blackboards and chalk we have come a long way to what is now known as e-learning (electronic learning) or m-learning (mobile learning).With the GenNext it is imperative to provide the right kind of education.
The rise of technology and IOT allows schools to improve the safety of their campuses, keep track of resources and enhance access to information. It ensures data quality being the top priority but also facilitates development of content allowing teachers to use this technology to create smart lesson plans and ensuring the reach of this content to any corner of the world .
EDUCAUSE published “7 things you should know about the internet of things” which highlights the implications for teaching and learning and an increased capacity for immersive learning. With a greater spectrum of learning “things” available and wider use of different teaching techniques, the potential for more personalized learning increases.
A Deloitte GOV2020 article explored this possibility pointing out that
“Incorporating just a few connected devices creates the possibility for more dynamic interventions, more advanced classroom techniques, and even a modified role for teachers which is more focused on individual students. By shifting processes and procedures to the background, the educator has fewer responsibilities as an active ‘manager’ in the foreground – which could mean more time to craft a personalised learning experience"
In India, universities such as Amity, Symbiosis and Manipal have set this trend and schools are not far behind. Schools have introduced SMART classes that enhance the learning experience. SMART boards are used here, which are the world’s first interactive whiteboards and have changed the way the teachers and students interact in the classrooms. Though introducing technology in the education system is no easy task, we can derive huge benefits from it. India is on its way to modernising the system which not only help students but faculty as well. The generation of today is wired to technology at a very young age and thanks to the internet everything is available at the click of a finger. Notebook and textbooks are on their way to being replaced by tablets and laptops.
Amit Bansal, National Head and Director of Non Class Room Programme (NCRP) FIITJEE says,
“Internet of Things (IOT) in education has been a boon for many who are deprived of coaching. Being the National Head and Director of NCRP FIITJEE, I have been understanding the need and aspirations of students. As per data of JEE-2016, over 56% of students who qualified in JEE Advanced did not study in any of the coaching institutes. This includes some of the rankers in Top 50 and top 100 ranks too.
More than 87% of the qualifiers of JEE Advanced, 2016 are from lower and lower middle class families where the annual income of the parents is less than 5 lakhs per annum. Over 50% of the successful candidates are from rural and semi- urban areas where there is no presence of premier coaching institutes.
Many are deprived of joining any proper institution for JEE preparations, the reason being location accessibility or due to financial reasons. For such students syncing their studies through internet and offline education has been quite fruitful.
Aspirants preparing for IIT entrance through distance learning have also been provided with an online portal and mobile application for preparation, and self-evaluation of their overall performance. All India Mock tests are also designed to analyse the performance based on several parameters including comparative analyses among tens of thousands of JEE aspirants. This also provides a progressive analysis of all past examinations which help students plan their path of preparation and take corrective measures accordingly. This mobile app has made it easy for students to analyse their performance anytime, anywhere. As evident, the right mix of technology with the examination preparation actually results in success”.
According to a recent study, on an average an Indian user spends 3 hrs and 18 mins everyday on their smart phones. So why not use this same device to revolutionise the Indian education sector. Several initiatives have been taken by the Government of India to promote e-learning. One of the most prominent among them was the “National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning” (NPTEL) which was to develop a curriculum based on video lectures and web courses to better the quality of engineering education in India. The NPTEL was a huge success and triggered various such programs to be set up by both public and private parties.
In the Indian context of e-learning there came about different concepts of learning. Some of which are,
Flipped classrooms: This is a new education mechanism that is revolutionising the education sector across the globe. It involves one-on-one content delivery and offline learning. Mastering initial concepts of a subject offline through video lectures and then interacting with the teachers later to clarify doubts. It is absolutely essential to have face-to-face guidance for practical sessions and projects. These can be done through smartphones or laptops.
Another variant to this is the “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC) which delivers high quality learning courses/ content to anyone free of cost with no restrictions on attendance, age, location and so on. Top global universities have joined the MOOC platforms or have started their own MOOC initiatives. Globally Indians are the second largest to join the MOOC and the response from students to teachers have been fantastic.
Game based learning (GBL): Mobiles are a necessity to one and all today and games on these devices have been a favourite pass time to all age groups. Learning subjects such as English, maths and Statistics with game based learning has proven higher retention and prolonged attention of the learner.
Personalised learning: Every individual has their preference of learning. Some like to read and learn and others to watch a video to learn a concept. With the internet being so handy this is now possible on a variety of subjects customised to fit your preference of learning.
Social learning: this includes various blogs and communities that help learn by collecting and sharing knowledge on these forums. Social media networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter have contributed to this way of learning by conducting question and answer sessions with experts from various fields.
With the increasing focus on Digital India, the Internet of Things is all set to automate the access to all information through the internet and will not only ensure higher literacy rates but also will considerably reduce the number of students that drop out. Time and travel have been a constraint to a lot of students who are not centrally located to schools or colleges, but the use of the internet would bring about change and help increase the popularity of the education sector and would make it noteworthy. Over time, the IOT will be a mind set and not just a steady stream of technology. With it making its presence in our homes, workplace and our environment that will be intelligent to connect with each other, people will inevitably focus on the transformational possibilities for our world. Like Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.