Education gets connected: The power of IoT in schools

We're just starting to touch on the power of IoT in schools.
Connected objects make for powerful outcomes

Education in Australia is working smarter than ever before. It’s just one sector, in a long line of industries being revolutionised by the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether it be smartphones, tablets, or smart projectors, connected devices are become increasingly ubiquitous among educators and students alike.

With the rapid switch to online education due to COVID-19, connected devices are becoming more important than ever for student learning. Connected solutions not only enrich the learning experience, they also pave the way for new methods of learning, such as data driven approaches, student collaboration and digital lesson plans.

In addition to teaching methods, the IoT can also be used to regulate environmental factors such as classroom temperature, ensuring ideal comfort and productivity for all members of the classroom.

However, the legacy infrastructure in schools wasn’t built for the connected age. This presents challenges for many schools looking to modernise with digital solutions. As a result, administrators need robust monitoring tools to ensure they can diagnose and solve network issues without impacting student learning.

A strong network is key to IoT success
Unfortunately, not all IoT devices are made with the latest technology, and firmware can rapidly become outdated. This poses challenges as schools go through digital transformation. Without an understanding of device connectivity, it can be difficult for IT teams to integrate IoT devices successfully.

Adding to these challenges, networks are becoming increasingly complex. High networking visibility and monitoring is key to reducing the risk of downtime – which ultimately impacts student learning. Moreover, the further devices are spread out geographically, the more difficult is can be to access and service remote infrastructure.

For example, Lord Wandsworth College in the UK was struggling to manually service over 80 printers installed across the large campus – causing disruption for students and faculty alike. After implementing networking monitoring, IT administrators are notified in advance if toners or ink need to be replaced, before students are impacted.

Connected security
The saying goes that organisations are only as secure as their weakest link; the same is true for an IoT network. Each connected device or endpoint is a potential pathway into the network, making visibility integral to manage devices and detect endpoints that may pose a security risk.

IoT devices widen the threat vector and both school communication networks and cloud infrastructures are generally complex. Therefore, security should always be the first priority when incorporating the IoT into school networks, particularly as data becomes more valuable. 

Seeing is success
Today, we are seeing IoT transform the way we teach in schools. However, school IT departments must adhere to best practices when integrating IoT technologies and devices into the classroom.

Both staff and students must be adequately prepared for future connected learning environments, so the fundamentals – including security, network monitoring and a carefully considered IT infrastructure – are crucial to success. This ensures not only better outcomes for students, but also prevents network downtime.

As more schools go through digital transformation, staff and students will be utilising digital and connected learning tools at scale. To manage this increase, IT administrators must ensure the network is prepared and visible. With a solid network as the foundation, IoT can make the classroom more efficient and connected than ever before.