The Internet of Things describes a network of physical objects that connect with each other and with the web. Each object is uniquely identifiable in the network thanks to an embedded computing system.
Objects and items in the Internet of Things (IoT) include medical devices, cars, smart thermostats and safety devices. The IoT is giving companies and organisations the ability to effectively manage and monitor operations and products in real-time.
Information gathered from the Internet of Things has three really important aspects. Its data is defined by location, time and history. Plus, it’s highly accurate. This means that IoT objects – anything from submarine management systems to train cab safety controls – can be used to compare the current output to historical data – really useful for creating training courses from real-time, real-life data rather than a pre-prepared dataset. And when it comes to mobile learning, the employee and instructor can also access all of this information remotely.
The potential for employee training
Some of the most widely used IoT devices so far have been consumer activity and fitness monitors such as the FitBit and Nike FuelBand. IoT technology was used by Asics to deliver personalised messages of support to a race-side flatscreen when a unique RFID tag was detected on the runner’s shoe.
This ability to track location-based data in real-time goes some way to showing how IoT technology could become incredibly useful for training and learning.
The Human Cloud At Work study led by Dr Chris Brauer of the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London found that IoT devices could improve not only productivity, but also job satisfaction. The study identified that brain activity sensors, motion monitors and posture coaches increased productivity by 8.5% and happiness levels increased 3.5%.
Developing believable and relevant training tools is not an easy task. Recreating common scenarios is a great way of placing employees into an immersive environment, encouraging them to interact and learn more intensely.
Including real-time information from the Internet could really help make these training scenarios more lifelike.
IoT data would be especially useful for scenarios that are time-critical. Learners could attempt to solve problems as they happen, potentially shadowing more experienced employees tackling the issue on the ground. This would help replicate some of the sense of danger and urgency that employees might experience during the “real thing”.
Because Internet of Things objects record the history of events, real scenarios can be replayed again and again – useful for learning to interpret business activity at a convenient later date.
Learning in the classroom
As we’ve discussed before, the potential uses for the IoT within eLearning are huge. Visitors to museums and art galleries could use site-specific apps linked to IoT devices throughout the venue to access a much more interactive experience than traditional signage and audio guides are able to do.
The Internet of (School) Things project aims to transform the way school students learn. It’s an extension of a £800,000 project in which Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory, Explorer HQ, Intel, Open University, Science Scope Ltd, Stakeholder Design, UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and Xively worked with eight schools to explore the possibilities of the IoT.
The consortium is continuing to work with teachers and students from those eight schools to design IoT-connected devices and learning materials across the Key Stages. The plug-and-play devices are used to carry out experiments using the schools’ network of devices, such as robots, weather stations and soil sensors.
By 2020, it has been forecast that it could include between 30 billion and 75 billion objects or devices. BI Intelligence has estimated that 1.9 billion items are already connected to the Internet of Things, and the number of products is rapidly growing. Expect to see lots of training and learning devices added to that list in the near future.