Archive for January 17th, 2013

In my last post I noted the technologies on the horizon for adoption in teaching and learning as reported in the NMC Horizon Project Short List 2013 Higher Education Edition report.

One of the anticipated developments foreshadowed by the report within a 2-3 year adoption period is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). But what exactly does that term mean and how is it likely to transform education? IoT is also referred to as “Machine to Machine” (M2M) communication, and refers to objects or entities which have attached sensors and form part of an ecology of interconnected nodes that can communicate via the Internet. The NMC report refers to these entities as “smart objects” which have four attributes: they are small and easy to attach to almost anything; they have unique identifiers; small store of data or information; and can communicate that information to an external device on demand. A recent TechRepublic (2013, p. 6) report,  explains “Almost anything to which you can attach a sensor—a cow in a field, a container on a cargo vessel, the air-conditioning unit in your office, a lamppost in the street—can become a node in the Internet of Things”.

Here is a diagram taken from the TechRepublic e-book, The Executive’s Guide to the Internet of Things, which explains the principles.

TechRepublic's 2013 illustration explaining the anatomy of the Internet of Things

TechRepublic’s 2013 illustration explaining the anatomy of the Internet of Things

So what is the relevance of the Internet of Things for Teaching, Learning, Research, or Creative Inquiry?

The NMC report (2013, p. 7) suggests some interesting possibilities including:

  • TCP/IP-enabled smart objects that alert scientists and researchers to conditions that may impair the quality or utility of the samples.
  • Pill-shaped microcameras used in medical diagnostics and teaching to traverse the human digestive tract and send back thousands of images to pinpoint sources of illness.
  • TCP/IP enabled sensors and information stores make it possible for geology and anthropology departments to monitor or share the status and history of even the tiniest artifact in their collections of specimens from anywhere to anyone with an Internet connection.

If you are interested in exploring these possibilities further, register with TechRepublic for free and download their e-book, The Executive’s Guide to the Internet of Things (2013). Also refer to the NMC Horizon Project Short List: 2013 Higher Education Edition

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