Internet of Things: 4 challenges for school leaders in 2014

We live in a world that is fact-paced and technology-driven, the Internet of Things is all around, gathering data, sensing trends and improving services, yet  school can still be like entering your grandmother’s living room. It’s comfortable and predictable, it hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. In 2014 Granny might even have an iPad because she likes to watch catch-up TV, play scrabble and email the grand kiddies.

The comfortable and predictable at school exists:

  • We can manage students in lots of about 30
  • We all have our designated place/desk to work at – student, teacher, principal
  • It’s simpler to just teach discrete subjects
  • The day starts at 9am-ish and finishes at 3.30pm-ish
  • The principal/headteacher knows everything and tells us what to do.
  • Our behaviour management system keeps the students in line
  • We upload websites and Youtube videos to the portal to control the content
  • We have a one-to-one laptop/iPad program
  • The IT team manage our technology

Just like granny’s living room, we know what to expect everyday, every week, every year, whether we like it or not.

Is 2014 your year for change?Internet_of_Things_Infographic
It is time to think differently about technology – we are in the era of the ‘Internet of Things’. Check out the Cisco Infographic.

  • The world is not 1:1 technology, in fact, during  2008 the number of things connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on earth.
  • Technology ‘things’ can mean a myriad of devices – not just laptops, tablets and smartphones
  • Data collection enables more effective use of time and resources
  • Sensors provide analytics and improve health and life outcomes
  • User activity is tracked for improved experiences

This video from IBM explains the Internet of Things

Link to video
Link to video

These ‘things’ collect data and connect meaning, providing the relevant information to improves services, connecting aspects of life, to make human activity more efficient and providing the basis of innovation. New insights and activity can be generated.

Most importantly, we need to know where we fit in. The IBM video explains the DIKW-Pyramid. Data, information and even some knowledge can be gathered by technology, we need people who can make sense of it, bring their wisdom, be ethical and innovate. Ultimately to find solutions to big problems and improve lives.

DIKW Pyramid IBM

Four Challenges

There are new skills and expertise required, to ensure that  students are well-prepared for the present and an unfolding future. So where does that take our learning focus? Some thoughts to ponder:

  1. Is technology viewed narrowly as a subject or a 1:1 device program? Otherwise the scope of the possibilities open to students is limited.
  2. Do your teachers only use devices as an input and output repository for content? The potential enables them to solve problems, be entrepreneurial.
  3. Will school administrators invest in a robust wifi network? Without it you are limiting the possibilities of learning, innovative ideas and expression
  4. Is your IT Team/Department  separated, rather than integrated in making the decisions about technology in your school? If separated they are more likely to confine the breadth of their own knowledge and expertise.

So as you think about the 2014 school year – it’s probably time to move out of granny’s living room and rethink what it means to provide a meaningful education for 2014 and beyond. Where  students are equipped with the skills, values and attributes that will help them make sense of their world and then prepare for the generation to follow them.


Resources: Cisco, IBM

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