“Smart Schools are a great way to engage students at their own level of comfort.”
“My desire for our school is to implement a smart school within the next 5 years. :)”
The comments above reflect the sentiments of the over 600 K-12 and higher education IT managers participating in our survey about smart school technology, a concept similar the smart city and smart hospital. In fact, 46% of those surveyed believe smart schools will have a major impact over the next one to two years. The benefits cited include: increasing student engagement, taking advantage of mobile learning, enabling more personalized education, improving efficiency, and reducing costs.
What Exactly Is An Internet Of Things Smart School?
The word smart implies an intelligence and awareness, as well as an ability to learn and transform. Smart schools have an infrastructure that enables them to grow, adapt and progress as important environments for learning. Today’s smart school utilizes Internet of Things devices that communicate their status via Wi-Fi. While this can include interactive smart boards, the scope of smart schools reaches far beyond these boards to include iBeacons, wearables, sensors throughout the school, eBooks and tablets, collaborative classrooms, smart lighting and HVAC, and video/motion trackers. Our survey found growing use of robots, augmented reality, facial recognition, parking sensors, attendance tracking, and 3-D printers. These devices provide extensive data for both real-time and subsequent analysis.
Implementation Concerns and Drawbacks
As with all advancements, implementing the devices that enable the smart school brings along a set of concerns to be addressed. Security was cited by just over 50% of the respondents as a potential issue. Others worry about privacy, interoperability, and added expenses. Manageability will be a concern until someone comes up with a single, consistent dashboard to control all the currently-disparate devices and systems throughout the schools.
Reliable Wi-Fi leads the list of most important success factors in implementing smart school technology. Not surprisingly teacher development, well-designed learning environments, and insuring that the students have appropriate devices are also on the list of important requirements for success.
The Importance of Planning
How new smart school technology is introduced into the school is vitally important. To be successful, this requires an education vision; understanding how the technology improves education. Effective technology roll-outs require user training; adequate infrastructure, especially sufficient Wi-Fi coverage and bandwidth; and coordinated timing. As one IT manager commented, “Getting the teachers and staff on board can sometimes be more challenging than getting the new technology implemented.”
Examples of Smart School Devices In Use By Schools Surveyed:
Cameras and video
Student ID cards
School bus tracking
Smart HVAC system
Supply inventory tracking
Tablets and eBooks
Electric lighting/ maintenance
Athletic bands or wearables
Motion sensing and tracking devices
Airplay and Smart TV Devices
Wireless door locks
Adaptive learning systems
Virtual and augmented reality
Facial recognition systems
Survey size: 612 completed surveys
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