As millennials move out of college and Generation Z moves in, connectivity is becoming an integral feature of the campus experience. Today’s students rarely ever go anywhere without a smartphone and a laptop or tablet, and it won’t be long before wearable devices and other emerging technologies begin to make their way into the mainstream.
“If anyone wants to take a guess at where the [internet of things] is going to have the largest impact, here’s a tip: think bigger,” says Jason Hope, an Arizona-based entrepreneur, investor and all-around technology enthusiast. Hope’s degree in finance helps him monitor and predict the trends driving internet of things (IoT) technology and identify the best opportunities in which to invest for the future.
Welcome to the Smart Campus
Many universities are beginning to use IoT to monitor various aspects of the campus environment, including security and energy, to create a better experience. By managing resources to lower costs and using IoT data to respond to changing needs, colleges are able to create more efficient campuses without the need for additional human input.
For now, many of these technologies are operating behind the scenes. In the future, on-campus IoT connectivity could be used to respond as professors and students enter classrooms and deliver personalized information or set up specific environments according to preset preferences. Overlaying digital content on top of the physical world provides further possibilities by allowing students to experience things they could otherwise only read about or watch online, such as walking in the Amazon rainforest or viewing a beating human heart.
Smarter Classrooms, Smoother Learning
Until technology advances enough to create such individualized virtual experiences, colleges are making the most of what’s already available. “Smart classroom” environments are popping up in many universities and include a variety of interactive technologies:
• Digital “whiteboards”
• Integration and connectivity for laptops and tablets
• Video projectors
• Streaming lectures
• Collaborative workspaces
By encouraging group work and allowing for more interaction between students, smart classrooms speak to the “tribal” mentality of today’s young people and enable them to use the technology with which they already feel comfortable to navigate their way through new and difficult concepts.
Even these innovative, flexible classrooms may change in the near future. More information is moving to online environments where students can access lectures and required readings using personal devices on their own schedules. Some colleges are looking to connect distance learning students with their on-campus peers and offer guided virtual learning experiences for students pursuing hands-on majors.
A move toward open-source knowledge and course materials is making this kind of connectivity across distances possible. Some universities are partnering with platforms like Amazon to make digital textbooks more mainstream, taking advantage of the way many students already prefer to read. Minimizing paper not only cuts costs but also ensures students don’t lose vital information as they attempt to juggle large course loads. Online modules, distance learning options and lecture podcasts are allowing more students to access courses from their preferred universities on their own time and without having to relocate, making higher education more easily available across the board.
Monitoring Student Success
In much the same way as companies are using IoT technology to learn more about their customers, it’s possible for universities to track markers of success among student bodies and identify individuals who may be in need of support. Class attendance, utilization of on-campus resources and engagement in extracurricular activities all contribute to how well a student does in the college environment, and some schools have already implemented tracking systems to assign “scores” based on performance in these areas.
Tracking and IoT analytics can also be used to create adaptive learning formats designed to steer students down the best paths for their personal learning styles. By monitoring how these young people work and process information, such predictive systems deliver individualized modules as students are ready. As students move through these courses, professors can watch their progress, determine where individuals are having trouble with the material and implement interventions as necessary.
Professors and administrators need to adapt to new technologies already being used on campuses and be ready for bigger changes to come. Forward-thinking investors like Jason Hope are likely to lead the way in bringing new IoT opportunities to campuses across the country.
A native of Arizona now based in Scottsdale, Jason Hope uses his resources to support causes and projects dedicated to the betterment of humanity as a whole. Currently, Hope wants to “offer both seniors in high school and college students grants to help [them] jumpstart [their] technology.” Giving between $500 and $5,000 to these young inventors provides another platform for the expansion of IoT and may have an influe