Smart Campus: Coming to a School Near You?

What role will internet connected devices play in enhancing the learning outcomes, operational efficiency, and safety of schools?

Campuses throughout the country are beginning to experiment with the use of cloud computing and internet of things technology to support student learning and campus management [1]. In a recent survey of 600 K-12 and Higher Education IT leaders, 46% believe IoT will have a major impact on campuses in the next 1 to 2 years [2]. Will smart campuses live up to this hype? Or will privacy and cost issues deter widespread adoption of IoT in educational institutions?

Extreme Networks is an IT infrastructure and security firm which seeks to tap into the market for smart campuses. This San Jose-based company generates $520 million in annual revenue from its networking solutions for enterprise customers including healthcare systems, governments, mobile carriers, and large venues. Extreme Networks currently partners with large school districts and universities to deliver high-density WiFi and network management software. However, these services are the entry point for selling a larger suite of internet connected devices and an analytics software platform [3].

Extreme Networks Smart Campus

Extreme Networks envisions a smart campus in which digital beacons transmit personalized lesson plans directly to students’ devices when entering the classroom. Engaging content is delivered at a pace which adapts based on students’ performance. Teachers review dashboards of student progress and spend additional instructional time reviewing specific concepts [4].  Moreover, students sport wearables to track classroom attendance and monitor athletic activity. Wearables track students boarding GPS-enabled school buses, and parents receive a text if buses are arriving late [5]. In the case of an emergency, wireless door locks secure classroom and external doors, and wearables indicate the last known location of missing students [6]. Low-cost sensors monitor temperature and air quality for the smart HVAC system [2]. Combined, these technologies seek to increase student engagement, track learning outcomes, ensure safety, and reduce operational costs [2].

The Smart Internet of Things School [6]

Extreme Networks has crafted a smart campus vision which relies upon its core strengths and customized its solutions for educational institutions. As schools move to online testing for high stakes exams, the Extreme Networks platform allows IT professionals to monitor devices and prevent downtime from network bottlenecks [6]. Furthermore, the unified system dashboard offers visibility across devices from multiple vendors, making it easier to troubleshoot issues [3].

Smart Campus Risks and Opportunities

While Extreme Networks offers technical solutions, implementation of smart campuses requires the support of teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Privacy and security are the primary concerns for over 50% of IT leaders in education [2]. Extreme Networks can learn from the downfall of InBloom, a nonprofit backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which developed software to warehouse and analyze student data. InBloom closed due to public concerns about the misuse of sensitive student data and legislation restricting vendors from aggregating student data [7]. To pre-empt such challenges, Extreme Networks should partner with IT leaders in education to develop a data privacy and security policy. Furthermore, Extreme Networks should create educational materials for school districts to share with families to describe the nature of student data collected and how is it securely stored by the school district.

Predictive analytics software is another untapped opportunity for Extreme Networks within the smart campus market. The current offerings enable educators, administrators, and IT staff to monitor and analyze student and campus data. However, advanced modeling capabilities could enable schools to identify the characteristics of students most likely to be late for class or have difficulty in specific subjects. These insights could help teachers and support staff to offer more timely and targeted interventions and thus improve educational outcomes and cost savings [8].

Extreme Networks is well positioned to capture market share in the emerging market for smart campuses. However, Extreme Networks should connect with key stakeholders to understand the privacy and security concerns which may slow widespread adoption.

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Sources

  1. Xiao Nie, “Research on Smart Campus Based on Cloud Computing and Internet of Things”, Applied Mechanics and Materials, Vols. 380-384, pp. 1951-1954, 2013, Accessed on November 13, 2016, <http://www.scientific.net/AMM.380-384.1951>.
  2. Laura Devaney, “The Internet of Things Smart School is Coming,” eSchool News, April 13, 2016, Accessed November 13, 2016, <http://www.eschoolnews.com/2016/04/13/the-iot-smart-school-is-coming/>.
  3. “Extreme Networks: 2016 Annual Report,” Accessed November 13, 2016, < http://investor.extremenetworks.com/>.
  4. “How the Internet of Things is Transforming Education,” Zebra Technologies, Accessed November 13, 2016, <http://www.zatar.com/sites/default/files/content/resources/Zebra_Education-Profile.pdf>.
  5. “The Internet of Things for Education: A Brief Guide,” CSE Education Systems, Accessed November 13, 2016,  < http://www.cse-net.co.uk/the-internet-of-things-a-brief-guide/>.
  6. Bob Nilsson, “Is Your School An Internet Of Things Smart School?,” Extreme Networks Blog, November 20, 2015, Accessed November 13, 2016, < http://www.extremenetworks.com/is-your-school-an-internet-of-things-smart-school/>.
  7. Natasha Singer, “InBloom Student Data Repository to Close,” The New York Times, April 21, 2014, Accessed November 13, 2016, <http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/inbloom-student-data-repository-to-close/?_r=0>.
  8. “Predictive Analytics in Higher Education,” Eduventures Inc, January 2013, Accessed November 13, 2016, <http://www.eduventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Eduventures_Predictive_Analytics_White_Paper1.pdf>.

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4 thoughts on “Smart Campus: Coming to a School Near You?

  1. Very interesting! This reminds me a lot of AltSchool where technology is used to provide a personalized learning experience and affords teachers more time to focus on specific areas of conern for each student. While data and privacy are big concerns, I wonder if this will become less of a problem as the generation of parents shifts towards people who are used to a less-private world and are willing to give up privacy for its associated benefits. I’m sure our generation’s children will have a very different school experience! While I think there is incredible value in this new technology driven model, I would just be cautious to ensure that young students still have access to hands on, physical activities that are required for development.

  2. Nice post. I think the use of technology in education is one that has to be apporached with a lot of caution, given the frankly huge costs technology attracts that could be utilised elsewhere. The key test that I think any technology has to pass is “how does this enable more efficient/ effective learning to take place than before?”. This question goes right to the heart of how learning takes place – if that is not fully understood then there is a risk that new technologies are not actually adding value. For example, we have to avoid the temptation to digitise textbooks becasue we just assume digital is better – the exact same paragraph of text on an iPad is educationally no more valuable than on a piece of paper…

  3. Great post – I think the intersection of technology and education is incredibly interesting! The general consensus of the industry seems to be moving towards personalized learning, but I hope that they also focus on training the teachers so that there is a smooth transition to this new model. Importantly, how does the role of the teacher change? Does she/he spend more time on developing the emotional intelligence of the student, because they don’t have to spend as much time on teaching to the “average student”? Also, although I am excited about the future of how technology can improve education outcomes, I am concerned about this IoT model. I wonder how the students will feel if they are constantly monitored and tracker – it seems a little 1984! Will this data-obsessed culture create more pressure on the student – love to hear to your thoughts!

  4. Truly mind-blowing. I guess I have underestimated the power of IoT for educational purposes. The most practical thing I find is having the peripheral characteristics of the learning experience being taken care of by technology, allowing faculty and staff to focus exclusively on the students’ core learning.
    Also, being able to use the technology to identify which circumstances are helpful and which are detrimental to the students’ overall learning process is something that hasn’t been tried before and which can be eye-opening.

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