2012
10.01

I have a good friend who works at a start-up that goes into schools and helps faculty best determine how to use the iPad to educate students. After simply five minutes of chatting with her, it is clear to me that the type of technology we write about in Connected World—connected devices and M2M (machine-to-machine)—will soon be very prevalent at schools, if not already.

My interest was especially piqued when a release crossed my desk about a new research study that investigated the effectiveness of technology with pre-K students—yes preschools.

The study examined test results from classrooms with a high proportion of low-income children, and was conducted from October through March of last year. The results determined children using the technology scored significantly higher than the students who didn’t. This particular technology is an interactive touchscreen that provides research-based content and adaptive-learning software that educates children and allows the teacher to monitor the student’s progress.

While this is one example of tech in general, connected devices such as tablets and ereaders are being more widely used in schools—from pre-K through to higher education institutions. But for faculty, parents, and students, this probably isn’t an earth-shattering statement. Tech has slowly been seeping into to the school system and curriculum for a number of years.

It is clear to me that educating with connected devices is the way of the future. But what about the use of M2M in schools? It isn’t as widely discussed, but it is still there, helping staff and administrators improve safety and security at schools.

As an example, students and parents at Northside Independent School District are likely familiar with the concept. A Student Locator Program is currently being piloted at two schools and will last for one year. The objective? Increase attendance, improve safety and security, and provide smart student ID cards.

Embedded within each student ID card is RFID technology. The cards are expected to be worn at all times (expect in physical education) and will be used to track the whereabouts of the students while on campus. According to the school district, it will spend $261,000 on this pilot for the two schools. At the end of the program the data will be evaluated and decisions will be made about further implementation. Although, the district anticipates it will see $2 million in additional revenues by the end of the pilot.

The use of smart ID cards is met with a bit of debate—primarily is it an invasion of privacy to know exactly where a student is located? The district states the use of the tech is not an invasion of privacy, but rather it is the school’s responsibility to know where students are at all times. Rest assured students will only be tracked while at school.

Will the use of RFID technology make its way to your student’s school? The possibility exists. This is not the first school district to test the technology. With the cost of RFID coming down and a greater need to provide a safe and secure environment, smart ID cards could be the way of the future as well.

It is exciting to see both connected devices and M2M at use in schools. We are living in a very connected world, and as the technology advances so too does our use of it at home, at work, on the road, and even in our schools.

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