eLearning and the Internet of Things


The term “Internet of Things” was coined by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton in 1999. So for the rest of this blog, every time I say “Internet of Things,” I’m going to need you to read it in a British accent in your head. Okay? Great! I think we’re off to a good start.

According to research firm Gartner, Inc., there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. Other estimates say 30 billion. That’s a lot of things. What exactly are these things? The Internet of Things refers to the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity allowing them to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator, or other connected devices. This includes:

• The fitness tracker you’re wearing on your wrist

• That fancy Nest thermostat that learns your heat preferences over time

• Heart monitoring implants

• Automobiles with built-in sensors

• And so much more

Here’s how Wired.com described the Internet of Things:

“The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it’s going to make everything in our lives from streetlights to seaports 'smart.'”

For the 2015 budget, the UK Government allocated £40,000,000 towards research into the Internet of Things. The reasoning? “This is the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.” They also lowered the duty on beer, spirits, and cider… I think it’s time for me to go visit our partners in the UK!

In a previous blog, I briefly discussed Craig Weiss’s idea of using Fitbits for learning, which is a great Internet of Things strategy. How else could the Internet of Things impact eLearning? Suppose workers in a dangerous factory environment wore activity trackers that sensed when they performed tasks incorrectly, in ways that could endanger themselves or other workers? The activity tracker could submit data about an employee’s erroneous action back to the company’s learning management system, and the learning management system could automatically assign that employee a refresher course on safety procedures.

A key part of the Internet of Things is the cloud. Wired contributor Daniel Burrus notes, “The Internet of Things doesn’t function without cloud-based applications to interpret and transmit the data coming from all these sensors.”

Luckily, we’re already in the cloud at Trivantis! Not literally—our office is on the second floor. But we are working hard to bring you full-featured, cloud-based learning tools, like the knowledge sharing platform CourseMill® Wave. Who knows what we’ll be bringing you in the future of the Internet of Things!

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