Staying Safe When Using IoT Devices in My Classroom
Internet of Things or what is known under the term of IoT means any object or device that is connected to the internet and can generate data and can be controlled remotely through an application.
The devices can vary from small humidity or temperature sensors to smartwatches and other wearables devices, smartphones, reaching out to any home appliances like air conditions, fridges, and recently this has been extended to reach out to the cars as well.
And since (IoT) has reached practically all aspects of our lives, it has been able to also support many educational applications; for example, smartboards, interactive whiteboards, and school safety applications which help schools to adapt to the future of education, and helps educators to cross new thresholds with access to real-time student data. In addition, IoT provides schools and classrooms with new models of learning and teaching and makes the learning experience much more enjoyable for the students.
The benefit of smart devices and IoT on students’ learning experience:
- IoT devices are changing the way students process and absorb information for the better. It is helping them enjoy the process of learning basically because students are very used to being around smart devices.
- Thanks to IoT, schools are able to create a smart infrastructure where students can connect to the internet by using their own smartphones or tablets to take part in the class and log in to their learning software.
- Interactive teaching software takes the student learning experience to a totally different dimension. Since IoT uses the internet, it helps students to better understand the teachers and interacts easily with each other.
- IoT also enables automation in the classroom. Automation can help with repetitive, routine tasks like grading close-ended answers and taking attendance, for example. It also helps teachers pass on information to their students in an exciting, interactive manner. This helps grab their attention and effectively makes them learn new stuff.
However, Stakeholders need to take into account several factors when using IoT devices in their classrooms. Factors such as connectivity and cost all represent real challenges for schools and educational institutions.
How to deal with the challenges presented by IoT?
Connectivity is the biggest challenge to the deployment of IoT in the classroom. The flow of information from and to the device, infrastructure, cloud, and application, is a top IoT challenge because wireless connectivity is highly complex.
To answer connectivity challenges, IT teams need to be skilled enough to design test and deploy proper solutions that offer the needed flexibility. These solutions also need to be upgradable to keep up with the fast-moving technologies and be able to meet future needs.
Implementing IoT solutions for education is very costly. Hardware license fees and maintenance costs are some of the factors that increase the cost of an IoT product. Unfortunately, not all educational institutions and schools can afford such expensive innovations or design their own custom IoT solutions. However, IoT devices allow schools to cut costs when they implement IoT in the classrooms. For example, IoT-connected lighting or any other device can be programmed, which can help improve the building’s efficiency and reduces energy waste, resulting in cost savings.
How to maintain security when using IoT devices in schools?
Before deploying an IoT solution, project stakeholders need to build a contingency plan for data breaches, security attacks, and other threats. In fact, as IoT technologies expand, risks for hacking increase because unfortunately, connected objects are vulnerable to attacks. For example, a smart camera, posting snapshots automatically to your Facebook account, could allow a hacker to gain access to your account without you noticing. A hacker can currently break into a smart TV in order to attack other devices on the same network, like the school’s interactive board for example.
Other threats include Hacking of the means of communication: GPS signal, Wi-Fi network, etc.).
Some Strategies and solutions can be:
- Blockchain: Blockchain technology is essential to the deployment of all connected objects. It makes IoT devices resistant to hacking attempts. Thanks to this identification chain, characteristic of the blockchain, allows connected objects to receive commands and communicate with each other in a secure manner without having to communicate via a third party, thus limiting the outflow of information or potential attacks from the outside.
- Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN): VLANs help properly isolate and segment IoT devices, thus adding an additional layer of security to connected networks.
- Strong passwords: If you can log into a device with a password, then a hacker can too. This is why you should always choose a unique long password, that does not contain any personal information about your or any family member.
- Follow good cybersecurity practices: Including 2-factor identification, firewalls and routers, disabling WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), and enabling the WPA2 security protocol.
- Awareness: Increasing awareness regarding the importance of data security among students is an essential part of the innovation implementation process.
- Proper training: Educators need to be properly trained and supported while using smart devices. When it comes to students, they are usually more tech-savvy than educators. Nevertheless, educators should raise their awareness of the dangers involved.
- Secure and reliable IT infrastructure: Along with training and awareness, a solid and holistic IT infrastructure will allow schools to achieve the security and privacy protection needed.
Educational institutions are realizing the significance of introducing technology, especially IoT, into their daily teaching methods. Very soon, and despite the obstacles, many schools and colleges will have IoT embedded into their day-to-day activities.
Used with the right safety parameters, smart devices will make the learning experience smoother for educators and students and will have a lasting impact on students’ overall success, by preparing them to embrace a digitized future coming at the speed of light.