The IoE Powered Teacher, er, Classroom, no, Learner! #iotlearn #iot (DRAFT)

posted Mar 16, 2016, 8:55 PM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Mar 16, 2016, 9:01 PM ]
How connected is your classroom, really? Everyone that walks into your classroom is connected in some way to their significant others (e.g. my children, my lifelines are a text, Telegram/Voxer, email or call away). These are person-to-person connections that transcend location, enabling networked learning that make every person you know a node on the network. In this type of network, each person is a source of ideas and information, and access to stored knowledge is a google search away. IoE moves from people being connected to each other to having a network of physical objects connected to the Internet. These objects transmit data via the Internet to cloud storage. The intent is that this data is used to provide a "smarter" service or experience for the user (Source: Huffington Post). But, wait, there's more!

Gartner reports that there are already 4.9 billion connected "things" in use in 2015, and predicts 25 billion by 2020, although various sources forecast even higher levels of connectivity for physical objects. But what does this have to do with your classroom? Let's take a quick moment to explore what IoT (a.k.a. IoE) is before jumping into classroom applications. Or, if you already know about it (watch this TED talk or this one), skip down to the "What Can IoE look like in My Classroom?"

Image Source: Growth in the Internet of Things - Bernard Marr, 17 'Internet of Things' Facts Everyone Should Read,

What is IoT or IoE?
The Internet of Everything is in wide-use for surveillance, healthcare, inventory systems, energy conservation, and, home appliances. IoE involves technologies that require little power to operate (e.g. WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth), or no power at all (e.g. RFID chips). This means that wireless sensors can be added to any device, including clothing (a.k.a. wearables), books, people, and, well, anything. This means that IoT can turn anything into a data point that can be sent to some data repository in the cloud for aggregation, analysis. This simplifies information collection and access. Intelligent agents are being developed to sort through the data gathered via IoT, then take appropriate action. 

Aside: Star Trek helped many of us understand new technologies (e.g. Star Trek Communicator-->Flip phone, and tricorder --> Smartphone). One series of books that did the same for me with IoE is Daniel Suarez' books, Daemon and Freedom...they thoroughly terrified me but provided a way of understanding IoE.

Imagine these scenarios to get a better idea of IoE practical applications:
  • Shipping: According to one source, "A shipping company that attaches tracking devices to containers can more easily follow their movements and better understand its operations. If that same company installs temperature sensors inside chilled containers, it can guarantee food and drink shipments will stay cool and charge a premium for that service."
  • Healthcare: A wearable monitoring device is plugged into a device that sends sensor data for your heartbeat, electrocardiogram (ECG) waveform, and breathing rate. The physician part of the app receives and displays the data for evaluation. This data is transmitted transparently to your healthcare provider. You may have already begun to see this in the grocery store blood pressure checker that offers to create an account for you. IoE takes the next step and uses that wearable device on your wrist to securely transmit critical health information to your doctor. Find out more.
  • Surveillance: A video camera connected to an IoE device enables you to monitor the performance of people and/or machines. This data, collected automatically and submitted to a giant database in the cloud, can be searched. What's more, the data can be used by intelligent agents to learn about what is normal and identify what the variants are, then take appropriate action. For example, if a machine is designed to perform a repetitive action, that is normal. When it deviates from that action, that is a variant. Any variants can be reported to law enforcement or to whomever is monitoring.
What Can IoE look like in My Classroom?
IoE for Education (IoEE) (#iotlearn) can involve any one of these scenarios:
  • Use note-taking devices--like "smart" digital highlighters--to enable you to highlight paper documents, then transfer highlighted text from the printed page to your favorite repository of data (e.g. GoogleDocs, Dropbox, OneNote/OneDrive). Or, you can scan text with your digital highlighter and it will read the text aloud to you (Source). 
  • Create digital interactive whiteboards that store everything written on them in digital format, making them easily accessible to staff and students.
  • Use of "iBeacon technology" that work as indoor positioning systems--enables you to create "proximity-aware experiences"--to access physical resources, while also providing access to digital resources. You can see several videos illustrating this. Some more ideas for using beacons:
    • Add "a beacon that provides a greeting when people enter. The greeting is like the home page of a library site but limited to the very basic information you would want a visitor to see: names and photos of staff, a map of book sections, and information about the library itself. As visitors move toward the center of the library, the beacon could push more direct location information regarding sections of the library (fiction, non-fiction, biographies, etc.)" (Source: Joel Adkins' blog).
    • Use augmented reality (AR) that enables the learner to view an overlay map on their camera view of where to go for a particular type of book or access to a computer.
  • Enable teachers, students, and with IoT, things to sense, control and communicate a view of the world through a digital lens that brings more information (such as the image above which may allow for gaining insight into how our bodies work).
How Can I Introduce Myself and My Students to controlling IoT?
The real question, though, is much simpler than all that--How can my kid learn to create, control, and manage IoT devices and the data they generate? Or, to make the first baby step, how can we begin programming our own devices? Several tools include the following:
  • Carriots - This tool enables you to build IoT apps.
  • Groovy - This is a Java enabled coding language.
  • AllJoyN - Provides a programming language for the Internet of Everything
Introducing students to Arduino, Raspberry Pi, programming/coding, help them get comfortable with the technologies needed to get ready to control the things that are increasingly being networked. These open source solutions enable students to get started developing IoT/IoE applications.