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How IoT is Impacting Networks in Higher Education and the Student Experience

Thanks for reading the LEDG blog series for Higher Education Network, Information Technology, and Facility leaders on IoT and Network Infrastructure Master Planning. The demands are increasing and we hope we can help sort through the hype and the realities of what it takes to change your campus buildings to intelligent facilities.

As we mentioned in our prior post, according to a joint report by the NMC and Educause, the expected time to widespread adoption of the Internet of Things on college and university campuses is two to three years, with many campuses already seeing IoT enabled systems being installed today.  While the capabilities of network-connected IoT devices have the potential to reach all areas of a campus, the impact the IoT on learning, the student experience, building systems, and safety will likely create the largest demands on a campus network.  Now let’s discuss what we can expect for the student experience.

Student Experience

The Internet of Things offers college campuses the promise of something unique – a personalized student experience.  As consumers, we have already begun to see this type of personalized experience in the fields of media and marketing.  The Internet of Things will enable campuses to personalize the student experience, beginning as early as the recruitment process and extending through the enrollment and post-graduation process.  Instead of students having to seek out information on relevant coursework/topics that may interest them, internship opportunities, campus organizations, and more, this information will be pushed to them by a central campus system.  Similar to how ‘push’ marketing notifications will inform a shopper of a sale in a nearby department, campuses will be able to suggest nearby activities or events of interest to a student based on their profile and past behavior.

Campuses are also realizing how this strategy and the reach of the IoT could improve the student experience.  The University of South Wales is currently deploying IoT sensors across its campus (which hosts 50,000 students and 12,000 staff) to track student movement so that they can make informed decisions on the design of their transportation system.  However, the future use-cases of information like location-tracking data are far more expansive. Institutions could use this IoT data to identify students at risk or in potential need of intervention.  For example, location-tracking data could assist in monitoring for signs of depression by combining data on skipped meals with data on students staying inside residence halls for an abnormal or extended period of time.

It is clear that the Internet of Things will empower institutions to create a more personalized student experience, but it is also critical that college and university administrators consider the ethical implications of student data collective and prioritize security and privacy.  The amount of data that all of this will generate is profound and it will greatly impact campus networks.