The Internet of Things’ Impact on eLearning

In 2017, the Internet of Things (IoT for short) is expected to continue transforming our everyday lives and educational technologies. Today’s post introduces the IoT and explores its potential applications on both education and workplace training.

The Internet of Things Impact on eLearningWhat is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

If you haven’t already started to read up on the Internet of Things or IoT, the concept is generally used to described the networking of objects. Today, small sensors are increasingly being embedded in objects of all kinds from running shoes to home appliances to hard helmets. These objects are in turn linked through wireless technologies to the Internet. When things become networked, however, what they can do changes radically. A networked pair of running shoes can transmit data to a computer and this data can later be used to manufacturer one-of-a-kind shoes that are made to respond to the runners’ specific way of running. The days of objects being simply objects is over. With the rise of the IoT, things are increasingly going to be capable of communication too, turning them into responsive tools that can be adopted and adapted in a variety of new and exciting ways.

How will the IoT impact education?

In the past, researchers have focused on finding ways to deliver education at a distance. Today, more and more researchers are attempting to use wireless technologies to create smarter classrooms and more specifically, classrooms that can give real-time feedback to instructors on what is and is not working. As reported by a Serbian team of researchers led by Nenad Gligorić, during lectures, “approximately after 10 minutes students’ attention begins to decrease. At the end of a lecture, students remember 70% of the information presented in the first ten and only 20% of the last ten minutes.” But this is also where the IoT becomes important. As Gliogrić notes, “Combining the IoT technology with social and behavioral analysis, an ordinary classroom can be transformed into a smart classroom that actively listens and analyzes voices, conversations, movements, behavior, etc., in order to reach a conclusion about the lecturers’ presentation and listeners’ satisfaction. This will enable lecturers to consistently deliver good presentations and make better impact, while the audience will benefit from interesting lectures thus making the learning process shorter, more efficient as well as more pleasant and even entertaining.” So what would this classroom look like?

Theoretically, in the classroom of the future, every desk will be equipped with a sensor. If students drift off during class, the lecturer (even in a room with hundreds of students) will know. Likewise, the classroom itself will be able to provide real time feedback to the lecturer on everything from who is speaking to their level of vocabulary. In the future, lecturers may very well receive a play-by-play at the end of every class detailing who spoke, for how long and on what topics and even who stayed awake and alert for the entire discussion.

How will the IoT impact workplace training?How will the IoT impact workplace training?

While the applications of the IoT in lecture settings represent one possible innovation, the IoT’s impact on training will likely be even more profound. In the future, an apprentice’s tools will likely both be able to track their progress on the job and offer real-time feedback. Likewise, seasoned workers with bad habits (e.g. a tendency to walk in dangerous areas of a work site) will obtain real time feedback on and as a result, there is hope that workers will also be able to unlearn high-risk behaviors on the job. This in turn has the potential to transform safety training and lower work-related injuries and deaths. But training is not the only way in which the IoT will soon transform our workplaces.

In offices, smart objects will increasingly ensure that mundane tasks are handled for us. A smart trash can, for example, might be equipped with a scanner and simply scan anything being tossed away and add it to an order list, which is connected to an online store.  As a result, supplies from pens to paper will be automatically restocked without wasting value of human resources.

Whether or not the IoT’s future classroom and workplace arrive in 2017, of course, is yet to be seen. What’s certain is that as the IoT develops, eLearning and mLearning will also continue to evolve and objects of all kinds will play an increasingly direct role in the learning process.

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