Benefits of IoT on higher education and research

Published February 20, 2020   |   

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected devices that is generating unprecedented levels of data through information sharing. In the last few years the IoT has had an immense impact on businesses in multiple sectors and industries. Higher education and research is no different. We’ll explore here just how this sector is being turned around by all the benefits of IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

1. Educational facilities that are connected and immersive.

New, sophisticated facilities are being created that can do more to attract top students and faculty. Forward-leaning technologies and the IoT can help universities build educational spaces that are immersive with virtual reality and enhanced reality so their students can learn more intelligently. They can provide students the sense that they are on the spot, enriching their experience as well as the teaching experience for faculty.

Multiple learning scenarios can support this approach; for example, in a lesson on geology and volcanoes, students can experience live, 3D information sent through live feeds, sensors, and other data of an active volcano in Indonesia, Japan, or Italy. One step further, and IoT and AI opens up the possibility of students in a classroom in North America or in their home interacting and sharing information with students, experts, and professors in Europe, Africa, or Asia. This is an immense opportunity for learning that is just being explored now.

2. Infrastructure that is interconnected and safer

The infrastructure in universities can be connected to the devices of researchers, students, and professors, so the university staff can better plan and use the educational spaces. Students can find out in advance if a study pod is available and if they can work with their peers online instead. Researchers can find out if their lab is available in real-time or book a lab elsewhere.

The security teams on campus can monitor and observe whole building due to enhanced sensors, RFIDs, cameras, and any other connected device on the IoT for better security and response. For building evacuations, systems can communicate in real-time to people in the building the safest plan and instructions for evacuation.

3. Personalized learning solutions

Smart devices on IoT can collect information about students, like through learning devices, health trackers, and cameras. Within the learning management system the university can set up a learning solution that is personalized for each student. This will include a learning path, a study plan, and much more. They can find out how resources are being used and the system via AI can offer more appropriate resources to students who are mastering certain subjects. They can also provide additional study materials to students who struggle with a particular topic.

Smart, interconnected sensors would be able to recognize when students are distracted by a certain lecture and change the learning solution for that lecture subject. Feedback on student’s learning and alertness state can be shared with professors to better connect with their classes.

4. Sustainability and benefits of IoT

IoT can greatly reduce costs while improving productivity, as it’s already shown possible in other sectors. This includes measures like monitoring room utilization remotely and equipment to conserve energy and save money. General analytics can be created for each part of a building so that space, savings, and energy-reduction measures can be implemented.

High-level sensors in research equipment can send signals for proactive maintenance to reduce their downtime and overall maintenance costs. The same can be said for data collection on access control, waste control, and anything else that takes up significant resources and time.

5. Research powered by AI

AI can be used to increase researchers’ networks to similar fields, create connections across disciplines that are currently working in silo, and find new insights in papers. It can also pinpoint problems in research where collaboration could improve results for all parties. AI can aggregate, curate, and help the student and researchers conduct their analyses and help them focus on what they need to.

To move forward, research institutions and universities must create spaces utilizing IoT and other future-learning technologies. This will change the way we educate the next generations and conduct research.