The potential of IoT devices in education

Beatriz Sanz Baños    11 December, 2018

Paying in a store, controlling the vacuum cleaner from the mobile or the refrigerator detecting a shortage of the apples we like and making the purchase autonomously, etc… these things have become normal in thousands of homes throughout the planet. The education sector, which is not immune to the possibilities provided by technology, has also included the Internet of Things (IoT) in its activities.

Beyond email, tablets, or the intranet, Internet of Things makes it possible for schools to implement an unprecedented number of systems and methods. The benefits of the integration of this type of technology in the educational environment are multiple: they save time, streamline tasks, enhance the abilities of students and they also revolutionize classroom dynamics, from Primary courses to University education.

The education sector, which is not immune to the possibilities provided by technology, has also included Internet of Things (IoT) in its activities

In Thailand we found a good example of this trend. Schools in the Asian country successfully test an IoET (Educational Internet of Things) device called OBSY (Observation Learning System) to improve the participation of children in the classroom. This friendly looking toy is able to optimize the learning outcomes of students who use it.

Putjorn Pruet, PhD student in University of Kent, UK, has been responsible for developing the device based on Raspberry Pi. The system is basically composed of several parts, first a device with which the child interacts, apparently a toy with several tentacles, to which the child can connect different environmental sensors (ambient light, temperature monitor, etc.). Then it sends that information through a wireless connection. Because it looks like a toy it does not generate distrust and anxiety in children and has a very beneficial effect in approaching the technology to kids. On the other hand, the system consists of the IoET platform (Internet of Educational Things), which is responsible for processing the context of the exercise, how it has been carried out, as well as its results, allowing improvements to be made.

The OBSY device was used as a basis for three different experiments in the classroom with the aim making students understand simple science processes while learning to work in teams. As a result, it was seen that it encouraged observation and invited students to participate and share their results with the rest of their classmates.

After the research part, the information that had been sent by OBSY in the form of graphics to the students’ tablets was studied. It was concluded that this process facilitates students’ understanding of the different results produced in the experiments carried out.

After the experiment, Thai researchers showed that students who used the OBSY device scored better than those who did not. In addition, the group’s commitment to its learning process increased.

On the other hand, they also found that neither gender, nor age, nor the qualities of technology are a differentiating factor for good results. Although previous studies have proposed that children learn more easily through technology, it was shown that devices and platforms could be designed for both sexes.

Neither gender, nor age, nor the qualities of technology are a differentiating factor for the good results of Iot applied in the classroom

“The OBSY experiment demonstrates the potential of IoET devices in a wide variety of ages and implementation of similar systems could be an important tool for educational development in young children” in the words of the principal investigator Pruet Putjorn.

In Spain, 30% of Spanish children aged 10 have a mobile phone and at age 14, 83% already have this type of device, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). In addition, most children 2 and 3 years old regularly access their parents’ terminals, handling various applications, photographs and videos, according to a study prepared by Internet Safety Center for Minors in Spain.

The irruption of Internet of Things in education is modifying the conception we had of a sensitive and primordial field. New goals and endless possibilities are being established within the education sector. In addition to finding a variety of free software tools, they are likely to interact with IoT in teaching; we can already see positive results in their implementation in education.

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