Week 5 Blog

Like all the previous essential questions we have had, I had no idea what the Internet of Things (IoT) was before I began researching it.  After reading articles about it, discussing it with my fiancee who is also a teacher, and much more tech savvy than I, and seeming some relatable examples, I now understand what it means.  The IoT to me is best summed up by a line in the youtube video “Education and the Internet of Things” by Cisco.  In this video they explain that one of the pillars of the IoT is “Things,” and that the IoT “gives a voice to things.”  This means to me that, normal devices, mechanics or appliances that we have previously not been able to communicate with are now accessible for digital communication and interaction.  Max Meyers explains in the article “Can the Internet of Things Make Education More Student Focused?” that over the past century the educational experience has largely remained unchanged.  When I think about his statement, in terms of how connected the regular world and how unconnected classrooms-teachers-students are connected digitally, I have to agree.  Apart from direct computer use, and the occasional iPad my students have had very little digital exposure.

One piece of IoT technology that I think would benefit teachers and students would to be able to have communicative desks.  The way I envision this includes the following.  The teacher would assign a students to a certain desk in the classroom.  The student name would be logged and registered into the desk.  A small  touch screen, (5x8ish) would be displayed at the top of the students desk.  Programmed into this screen would be the daily schedule for students to follow along with and links for students to click on to access assignments and other necessary resources the teacher provides.  Now, I am a bit of an old fashioned teacher, and I still like to write my lesson plans out by hand, but with this device, a teacher would write her lesson plans digitally, and would just be able to send the student friendly version to her student desks straight from her computer.  In addition to providing students with a direct access planner and daily guide, the desks, since they are assigned to students would also be able to take daily attendance.  A student might sign into their desk each morning, and if the desk hasn’t been signed in to by the time school school starts, a message is sent to the school secretary to inform her of absences.  When the desk logs an absence, it also automatically sends the daily plan, resources and assignments to the students’ email address.  Not only will this help students while in school, but it would also eliminate the often time consuming process of catching students up on what they missed while they were gone.  Students would be able to receive the information they missed, the day they missed it, and their ability to stay on track with the class is assisted as much as possible.

Nothing like this device really exists now, that I know of at least.  But I do feel like the idea is not too far fetched.  If it, or something like it were to become available in the near future I think the lives of students and teachers would be improved. Nicole Kobie reminds us that once there was a uniqueness to smartphones, and were called as such to differentiate between regular phones and smartphones, but now that really is an unused term, even with iPhones, android phones, etc, we usually just called them phones now, sans smart, because their use is so prevalent and so familiar to most of us.  We can never tell what the future will hold and maybe in 20 years, there will be smart desks, that we just call regular desks!

Kobie, N. (2015, May 6). What is the internet of things? Retrieved June 16, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/06/what-is-the-internet-of-things-google

Meyers, M. (2014, December 3). Can the Internet of Things make education more student-focused? – Government 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from http://government-2020.dupress.com/can-internet-things-make-education-student-focused/

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12 thoughts on “Week 5 Blog

  1. Cool idea, interactive desks. I don’t think the idea is that far fetched. You are just talking about tweaking a computer into desk. It makes me think of the control panel on Star Trek. I really like the idea that if the student is absent, desk automatically sends school work to student at home. I Googled interactive desk and found researchers at Durham University in the UK are using them to develop the world’s first interactive classroom. The new learning environments are using ‘interactive multi-touch desks that look and act like a large version of an Apple iPhone.’ Their initiative, called SynergyNet. SynergyNet 4 year research project investigated enhanced learning environments. Learn more at http://tel.dur.ac.uk/synergynet/?page_id=16

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  2. How is this different from what happens now for students who learn digitally from online schools? Now, online, you don’t always know when a student walks away from the computer screen where you would with your device. Thoughts?

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    • Well I think the main difference is that this desk doesn’t replace the teacher, just supplements. The students would still be in a classroom full of peers. Still listening to the teacher and instruction, the desk is just another tool for them to use to enhance their learning process.

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  3. Your idea is fantastic! If one of these were made it would be awesome. I can see the possibilities going even further than the tasks you mentioned In my mind, I saw a small smart phone put into the desk, so that students could add apps or something similar. This would enable the desk to have additional features – like a calendar, a calculator (if older students), etc. The accounts could even bee synched through with their personal devices at home, if applicable, to make their life easier. My only question would be about charging the desks. Would they be charged with a cord, which could be a tripping hazard, or could they take double A batteries? I’m not sure the best way, but something to consider as the idea moves forward. 🙂

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    • I didn’t even think about charging the desks! I think having them grouped in pods and all plugged into a power surge would be the best solution like Tristan described in her comment below. We are cutting down on paper use, but with all this technology energy use will sure increase! I wonder if this is a financial concern for schools, as well as an environment issue too.

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  4. Tristan Leiter says:

    I really like your idea. I like the fact that the articles you might post on the board at school can be also on their desk and they can follow along and you could have different students read. I know for my older students if I put something on the board they tend to drift off because they don’t really feel like they need to pay attention because it’s not right in front of them. They could also have assignments on them that you would normally print off saving a lot of money in ink and paper and you could have a few copies for students to take home who couldn’t access their account at home because of no internet.

    Students could never use the excuse that they didn’t know what they missed while they were gone, which in my world is not an excuse when they don’t ask and come back to school acting like nothing could’ve happened on a day I wasn’t present. They could have full responsibility especially if the exact assignments were posted, even worksheets that they would normally have to get when they got back to school.

    I like the fact that it would send the data to the secretary about the absences. That would totally take the responsibility of roll call off of the teacher every morning and save at least a few minutes. I know at my school we do lunch orders, we don’t have a cafeteria, our lunch lady just cooks food for those who order it, my kids could order what they wanted for lunch too, saving another couple minutes and those sure add up.

    Maggie commented about how they would charge. If you put your desks in pods, as I know a lot of elementary teachers do, each pod could have a power strip from an extension cord and then there might only be five cords through the room that could be covered up with those cord covers (I have no idea what they are called).

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  5. You and I were thinking along the same lines. I also envisioned a smart desk. I like how you included capabilities for absent students. When I read that, I had the thought that these desks, like any internet device, would have their own IP address. Absent students could log into their desk from home and see the work they missed. If the teacher is using video, students could monitor classroom activity from home as if they were present. Desks that automatically monitor attendance would save time and would eliminate some of the non-academic activity we must deal with.

    The description you used to describe the internet of things is perfect. It gives voice to things. Some of the items that have internet connectivity seem gimmicky to me. Do I really need a refrigerator that is online? Will it really provide a meaningful benefit? Other items, however, are brilliant. Security devices, home heating and cooling, and remotely accessed lighting all have great safety and money saving potential. Smart circuitry in cars that sense a collision and send an emergency signal could easily save a life. I can’t imagine where this will eventually lead but, like you said, someday we may have classrooms with interactive desks that we will simply refer to as a normal desk.

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    • Yes. What today seems to be futurist will be considered the norm. Here’s another idea. There are times I’d like to have a tracking device on my dog. It could be used to find lost pets and analysis health. Dog could be trained to respond to specific sound cues. Also in assisting in search and rescue

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      • My puppies have these chips in them that will track them if they are lost and that can be scanned if someone finds them. They don’t monitor health though – and I would love that as an additional feature. Or a super-magnet that would draw them home if they wandered too far…not sure how that could work…

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      • I have heard of those microchips before that can be used to identify lost dogs. It is a brilliant idea, but using it as some sort of tracking device would be even much more useful. Also monitoring health stats would be great too, one of the hardest things about raising our furry friends is that they can’t tell us when something is wrong!

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    • Thank you for the compliment on my definition! I was thinking about it after all the articles I read and research I did, but it all really boils down to giving a voice to things now. Pretty simple and clear way to explain it to people who haven’t heard of it before (like me last week!).

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