The global disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. According to UNESCO, there have been 177 temporary country-wide closures of educational institutions across the globe. This has affected nearly 1.3 billion students. While the immediate safety of students should be prioritised, we cannot underplay the fact that the pandemic is holding back student development.
Both advanced and emerging markets are reeling from the effects of the school closures. A viral tweet from a British professor – where he said, “I am 30 minutes into home schooling my 6 year old. I suggest that all school teachers are paid £1m per year from now on” – while self-deprecating and humorous in tone, sums up the dependence we place on our educators, as well as our inertia of adapting to the situation. To help alleviate the burden on parents (who themselves are coming to grips with working from home), remote education is being brought to the forefront.
Advanced economies have more robust technology infrastructures they can leverage to make remote learning more feasible. However, developing nations are still struggling with low internet penetration and technological access that make remote learning nearly impossible. We need to invest time and resources in technology to bridge the current education gap. If we want to create a more sustainable future for education, we need to innovate the ways in which our children attain it and engage with their educators, and the internet of things (IoT) holds the answer.
How IoT can help
IoT application is not a new idea. It has the potential to provide a better-connected and more collaborative way for educators to engage with students – especially when it comes to sharing knowledge, making communication more effective, measuring student progress in real-time and creating more robust learning communities.
Already, we are seeing a host of developments that may very well become the norm in educational institutions around the world. These include:
A modernisation of blackboards and whiteboards, a smart board helps teachers and students collaborate on a project and share it with the rest of the class in real time. What makes smart boards even more useful is that they can store notes that have been shared with a class for future use and for reference by each student.
Measuring attendance is something that educational institutions have perennially struggled with. With an IoT-based attendance system (especially those using online dashboards), schools can record attendance automatically and more accurately. For educators, this helps save time that would have otherwise been spent on measuring attendance manually. For students and their parents, the need to digitally register students can make students attend classes more regularly.
Improving inclusiveness for those with special needs
A major challenge that schools have faced is how to better cater to students with physical, social and learning challenges. IoT connected devices can help open doors to such groups to better streamline their learning abilities. For instance, devices such as tablets and wearables can help students with communication challenges, through instant alerts that can be raised if the student cannot verbally describe an issue.
Laying foundations for the future
Although the benefits of IoT in education are clear, it will still take time for such innovations to become ubiquitous across the world’s markets – especially in emerging markets that still struggle with education inclusion. However, the COVID-19 pandemic means that the global education sphere is undergoing a stress test to see how we can use technology to overcome the hurdles posed by social distancing measures and closed educational institutions.
The pandemic may very well usher in a ‘new normal’ for the education sector, especially as we now clearly see the limits of legacy approaches. To prepare the next generation for the future, we need to leverage technology to make education more effective, engaging and inclusive. With IoT, we can help breed more familiarity with technology between students – not only for during times of crisis, but also for a future environment that will be underpinned by technology.
Sachin Dev Duggal, CEO & Co-Founder, Builder.ai
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, and opinions of EducationWorld.