The Internet of Things Is Here

[For several years there’s been growing talk about the Internet of Things (IoT). In this Educause article Florence Hudson looks at the trend and the possible risks as well as benefits. While K-12 has not jumped on the IoT bandwagon, it’s still important to think about the trend, especially in light of the growing number of issues around privacy and security.]


The Internet of Things (IoT) is a topic that engenders excitement, skepticism, and anxiety. Supporting these feelings are expectations regarding the potential value that the IoT can create today and into the future, the “hype-cycle” considerations, and the risks regarding security and privacy. Yet the fact is, the Internet of Things is here. Now. Higher education thus has an opportunity to support the development and deployment of the technical and business model innovations for an IoT-enabled economy, to build the leaders of the IoT-enabled economy today and into the future, and to address the TIPPSS risks related to the IoT: Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, and Security.

The current reality of the IoT is already staggering, not even considering the expectations and hype about the future: billions of physical devices, across the world, that have digital sensors and are interconnected by leveraging the Internet or other network technology. An estimated 13.4 billion devices were connected in 2015, representing more than twice the human population on the planet at the time, and this number is projected to nearly triple, to 38.5 billion devices, by 2020.1

Connecting the physical to the digital world can encompass a wide range of objects: vehicles, appliances, lighting, health and wellness devices, manufacturing systems, buildings, bridges, water pipes, food containers, electric meters, security systems, cameras, wearable devices, drones, and many more. These objects are connected through a digital sensor that collects and transmits data to other devices or to a centralized management system. The public Internet or private networks connecting these devices provide the communications between these devices—or “things.”

A report recently published by Internet2 highlights the IoT at the top of the “Key Information and Communications Technology Trends for the Research and Education Community” through 2025.2 According to some estimates, the IoT could create $11.1 trillion in global economic value by 2025, representing 11 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).3 This economic value reflects both the upside revenue potential for IoT-related devices, applications, and services and also the efficiencies and cost reductions generated through the IoT. This multi-trillion-dollar opportunity not only attracts investments but also requires innovation in technology and business models to be enabled. The risk factors of the IoT require additional research and development.

The higher education community can lead the development of the technologies, business models, ethics, and leaders of the IoT-enabled world. For example, professors of engineering and computer science are directing IoT labs for the improvement of IoT technologies, including security design. They can work with business schools to design curricula and form IoT clubs to create new business models. Law schools can teach IoT ethics, privacy, and policy. Medical schools can enable the “Internet of Medical Things.” Informatics programs can teach how to leverage the volumes of IoT data, with TIPPSS. Through such efforts, the higher education community can work across disciplines to develop the technologies, business models, and leaders for the IoT-enabled economy of the future.

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5 Tech Trends that Could Supercharge Education in 2016

[In this EdTech article five trends are highlighted that may make a major impact on both K-12 and higher education in 2016. I’m teaching an Osher course for senior adults at Carnegie Mellon University that will look at six trends that are making a difference – coding, personalized learning, flipped learning, game-based learning, virtual reality, and robotics. It’s interesting to see how the two merge.]

The technologies of tomorrow are already making headway into education, and others are poised for mass distribution in 2016.

Science-fiction author William Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

The technologies of tomorrow are already being tested in select classrooms today, laying the seeds for the future of how students could learn. With 2016 fast approaching, technology analysts have been busy prognosticating the top technology trends. A few of these technologies have already made headway into education, and others are poised for mass distribution, with the promise of ground-shaking change in their wake.

We’ve reviewed a few of these trends through the lens of how they could affect classrooms in both K–12 and higher education.

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What Education Might Look Like in the Next 5 Years

[Each year the New Media Group with CoSN publishes the Horizon Report for K-12. The report gathers information from a variety of experts across the globe to look at trends and emerging technologies. Here’s a summary from Mindshift.]

In a fast-moving field like education technology, it’s worth taking a moment to take stock of new developments, persistent trends and the challenges to effective tech implementation in real classrooms. The NMC Horizon 2015 K-12 report offers a snapshot of where ed tech stands now and where it is likely to go in the next five years, according to 56 education and technology experts from 22 countries.


Deeper Learning: The expert panel identified several long-term trends that will greatly influence the adoption of technology in classrooms over the next five years and beyond. They see worldwide educators focusing on “deeper learning” outcomes that try to connect what happens in the classroom to experts and experiences beyond school as an important trend.

Teachers at the cutting edge of this work are asking students to use technology to access and synthesize information in the service of finding solutions to multifaceted, complex problems they might encounter in the real world. The popularity of project-based learning, global collaboration and integrated learning experiences is driving this trend and powerful tech use as an extension of it.

Rethinking Traditions: Educators are also rethinking how school has traditionally worked, questioning everything from school schedules, to how individual disciplines are taught and how success and creativity are measured. This macro trend to shake up typical ways of schooling is opening new opportunities for technology to play an even bigger role in education. Finland took a big step toward reimagining school when it did away with many traditional subjects in favor of interdisciplinary classes that more accurately reflect a world in which disciplines influence one another. Some U.S districts have also tried to reimagine how school would look with movements toward competency-based models that don’t rely on time in class as the constant variable.

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