Trans­form­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion and re­search with the in­ter­net of things

The vast number of con­nected things and the ex­plo­sion of data gen­er­ated by con­nected de­vices are chang­ing the way busi­nesses are run across sec­tors. Higher ed­u­ca­tion and re­search is also be­ing re-cal­i­brated by pos­si­bil­i­ties of­fered by the In­ter­net of Thin

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What are some of the use cases? How can IoT trans­form ed­u­ca­tion? Let’s take a look at the po­ten­tial.

1. Im­mer­sive and con­nected ed­u­ca­tional spaces

So­phis­ti­cated fa­cil­i­ties are cru­cial to at­tract­ing stu­dents and fac­ulty. IoT and fu­ture-fac­ing tech­nolo­gies can en­able uni­ver­si­ties to build im­mer­sive ed­u­ca­tional spaces with mixed vir­tual-plus-re­al­ity en­vi­ron­ments for learn­ing in­tel­li­gently. By pro­vid­ing a sense of “be­ing there,” AI, IoT, and ML can en­rich both stu­dents’ learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and the fac­ulty’s teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, in part by de­tect­ing con­di­tions when it makes sense to switch to dif­fer­ent learn­ing sce­nar­ios.

Imag­ine teach­ing a les­son on vol­ca­noes while show­ing live, 3D in­for­ma­tion gen­er­ated through sen­sors, live feeds, and other live data on Saku­ra­jima in Ja­pan, Mount Ve­su­vius in Italy, and Co­topaxi in Ecuador.

Now imag­ine if stu­dents in a class­room or at home could in­ter­act with other stu­dents, ed­u­ca­tors, and ex­perts across the world study­ing the same topic. This type of in­for­ma­tion shar­ing can be of tremen­dous value for learn­ing.

2. Con­nected in­fras­truc­ture: Safer, more-ef­fi­cient use of space

With uni­ver­si­ties’ in­fras­truc­ture con­nected to per­sonal de­vices of ed­u­ca­tors, re­searchers, and stu­dents, ev­ery stake­holder can dy­nam­i­cally plan and more ef­fi­ciently use univer­sity space. Stu­dents will know whether study pods are full and they should col­lab­o­rate on projects on­line rather than meet­ing at the li­brary. Re­searchers can de­ter­mine in real time whether space in their favourite lab is avail­able, or book a lab in sis­ter re­sources if needed.

En­tire build­ings can be mon­i­tored and surveilled with em­pow­ered sen­sors, RFIDs, cam­eras, and con­nected de­vices to im­prove safety and se­cu­rity. If a build­ing must be evac­u­ated, the sys­tem will trans­mit the safest plan in real-time to any­one de­tected in the build­ing.

3. Per­son­alised learn­ing

With smart things – such as cam­eras, health trackers, learn­ing de­vices, and more – gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion about stu­dents con­nected to an in­sti­tu­tion’s learn­ing management sys­tem, uni­ver­si­ties can cre­ate per­son­alised learn­ing so­lu­tions with study plans and learn­ing paths tai­lored to indi- vid­ual stu­dents.

In­for­ma­tion can be au­to­mat­i­cally gath­ered about stu­dents and their use of learn­ing re­sources, and AI and ML can be har­nessed for the sys­tem to learn and adapt. For ex­am­ple, as a stu­dent de­mon- strates mastery by pass­ing tests, the sys­tem can of­fer higher-level learn­ing re­sources to the stu­dent. Con­versely, sup­ple­men­tary ma­te­ri­als can be pro­vided to a stu­dent who is strug­gling to com­pre­hend the ma­te­rial.

Smarter sen­sors can be har­nessed to de­tect and de­ter­mine changes, such as when stu­dents are dis­tracted dur­ing learn­ing, and gen­er­ate al­ter­nate learn­ing sce­nar­ios. In­tel­li­gent tu­tor­ing sys­tems can also pro­vide dy­namic feed­back about stu­dents’ cur­rent learn­ing state and im­prove the abil­ity of ML to learn and pre­dict bet­ter.

4. In­creased sus­tain­abil­ity and cost sav­ings

IoT is al­ready mak­ing a con­sid­er­able dif­fer­ence in re­duc­ing costs and im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and safety in the en­ergy sec­tor. Re­mote mon­i­tor­ing of room util­i­sa­tion and equipment can gen­er­ate an­a­lyt­ics to help higher ed­u­ca­tion and re­search in­sti­tu­tions con­serve valu­able en­ergy and save sig­nif­i­cant dol­lars. Fa­cil­ity man­agers can use en­ergy data to as­sign equipment and rooms based on util­i­sa­tion to make sure re­sources are used in a sus­tain­able man­ner.

So­phis­ti­cated sen­sors in re­search equipment and as­sets can trig­ger pre­dic­tive and proac­tive ser­vice to de­crease main­te­nance costs and down­time. Sen­sors can also col­lect data on ac­cess con­trol, waste con­trol, and other types of op­er­a­tions to high­light ar­eas that need im­prove­ment – and ul­ti­mately save valu­able man­power and count­less hours.

5. AI-pow­ered re­search

To be suc­cess­ful, re­searchers must col­lab­o­rate across re­search projects while be­ing ac­knowl­edged for their unique con­tri­bu­tions. AI and ML can be har­nessed to in­tel­li­gently ex­pand a re­searcher’s net­work to ad­ja­cent fields, con­nect across dis­ci­plines, or discover in­sights in pre­vi­ously un­known papers. It can also sur­face re­lated prob­lems where new re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion may be re­cip­ro­cally ben­e­fi­cial.

An in­ter­est­ing ex­am­ple is Quar­to­lio – an ini­tia­tive launched by the MIT Global En­trepreneur­ship pro­gram work­ing with the NYU StartEd In­cu­ba­tor, the New York In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, and other uni­ver­si­ties. It claims to im­prove re­searchers’ work­flow by au­tomat­ing re­search dis­cov­ery and iden­ti­fy­ing con­nec­tions across re­search on a pro­duc­tiv­ity plat­form pow­ered by AI. Quar­to­lio also ag­gre­gates, cu­rates, and fa­cil­i­tates re­search for stu­dent and pro­fes­sional re­searchers – learn­ing how ar­ti­cles, datasets, and other me­dia are con­nected so re­searchers can move one step closer to their next break­through.

Thrive into the fu­ture

To con­tinue thriv­ing into the fu­ture, uni­ver­si­ties and re­search in­sti­tu­tions need to cre­ate a des­ti­na­tion for bril­liant minds.

IoT and fu­ture-fac­ing tech­nolo­gies pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and re­search pow­er­houses new pos­si­bil­i­ties to trans­form the very fabric of ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. IoT and other in­no­va­tions can strip away bar­ri­ers in ed­u­ca­tion such as ge­og­ra­phy, lan­guage, and eco­nomic sta­tus. The po­ten­tial is sim­ply too promis­ing to be ig­nored.

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