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When we can measure everything – what will we want to know?

Society is connected, including schools, and when almost every gadget is able to measure its surroundings, we can gain a better understanding of what goes on in classrooms. RISE is currently working with Microsoft, Stockholm University and five Swedish local education authorities to both map the available opportunities and to conduct the ethical groundwork to deal with possible pitfalls.

Although the Internet of Things is already a big part of our lives, we have only begun to scratch the surface of its potential once everything is connected and understood.

“We are already seeing sensors turning up in school environments,” says Jan Hylén, who specialises in the digitalisation of education at RISE.

“In terms of premises, we can see that schools are being equipped with sensors in areas such as sound, light and air quality, etc. And then we have aids such as computers and mobile devices that can measure everything from position and total steps to pulse and so on. So, we can already see that measurements are being taken in schools. It is therefore important to get to grips with existing issues.”

The IoT Hub School project is studying how the possibilities offered by technology can teach us to better understand learning processes in classrooms. The collaboration began with a study of the operating environment.

“There are important questions that we want answers to: What kind of data can we collect? What do we want to collect? What are we allowed to collect? Technology, ethics and law,” explains Jan Hylén.

There is no problem in measuring the level of noise pollution from a motorway running close to the school; however, measuring from where in a classroom most talking is coming from is not as clearcut.

“We have long known that mathematics lessons are the greatest source of stress for students. If, for example, we were to measure differences in students’ pulse rates when trying different teaching methods, perhaps it could form the basis for a more successful learning environment.”

During the project, access will be provided to test environments. This will allow researchers access to the best available technology and make it possible to repeat the chosen experiments under equivalent conditions.

Currently in the startup phase, the project will last for three years. One of the objectives of IoT Hub School is to establish a hub for IoT in schools that can then disseminate knowledge gained from the project.

RISE is already involved in the ongoing project Vässa School in Hudiksvall in which studies are being conducted into sound, light and air quality in two classrooms in Östra School.

“Teachers gain many impressions and they are quick to react; however, they do not have the same ability to systematise data. If one can collect readings in classrooms over time, specific patterns may emerge – thereby facilitating remedies. And when we are talking about environmental data such as air quality, it is clearly harder for a teacher to assess than a sensor,” says Jan Hylén.


The IoT Hub School

The objective of IoT Hub School is to develop opportunities for and the potential of IoT in schools and their teaching environments. The overall aim of the project is to better utilise the opportunities presented by IoT in schools by establishing an IoT hub for the school. This will be achieved through three parallel processes:

  • Increased knowledge and understanding of strategy, standardisation, models and legal issues
  • Iterative testing and analysis
  • The development and establishment of IoT hubs for schools.