Module 1 – Internet of Things in the context of pedagogical use in adult teaching

This module is to explain what the Internet of Things or short IoT is and how it may enter the education system. It is dedicated to a step-by-step approach for Andragogs, educators working with adults, towards this topic. It shall help them to understand which skills and competences are needed in “smart education” including IoT. It shall support them to use innovative teaching methods, provide for innovation in training.

In this module, you learn

  • Basics about the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • IoT and Industry 4.0
  • IoT in „smart education”
  • New educators’ skills needed for IoT implementation in “smart education”

[nextpage title=”Basics about IoT”]

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, able to collect and share data with other machines/ computers or humans. Thanks to cheap processors and wireless networks the enumeration of what could become part of the IoT might be nearly endless in the very near future. Today, you already find e.g. a fridge, radio and TV, smart phone or tablet, lamps, machines like washing machines and robots, cars, kitchen supplies, keys or fitness bracelets, heating and navigation systems communicating with the internet.

For educators and education this means that students’ laptops, smartphones, keys, watches, etc. could all be/ become part of the IoT one can use in education settings, with educational platforms which also communicate via the internet with the individuals – or a learning platform e.g.

IoT will be further integrated into education systems in the near future. So, our understanding of education should shift to better address arising new needs and possibilities of the integration of IoT.

[nextpage title=”IoT – an important part of Industry 4.0 “]

When commercials promoted „smart” homes – security, heating, lightening systems or white appliances and media devices e.g. communicating via the internet with suppliers’ machines or individuals like emergency services, „smart” industry, a synonym for industry 4.0, had already started, too. The IoT is one of the major factors in new communicative and interactive developments.

There would be no Industry 4.0 without the Internet of Things. Its implementation of „smart” technology is the basis for new industrial developments and self-governing devices, connecting products, machines and people and the use of new production technology. This could be seen in the independent communication between machines (M2M) when some robot/ machine for example moves a piece of metal on a conveyor belt past a milling machine and “signals” to it how to grind it or where to best pick it up. In such way, it has sensing, identification, processing, communication, actuation and networking capabilities and could be used to regulate and monitor the production process overall.

Examples of technologies for the Internet of Things to be presented at one of the European business fairs, Hannover 2020, listed in one of the latest Industriemagazin issues (03/2020) were – inter alia :

  • Visualization system based on native web technologies for industrial operation and monitoring – consistently scalable in hardware and software from machine-oriented applications to distributed solutions.
  • Plug and play solutions to process data from the field level locally, hybrid or in the cloud – for e.g. optional analyses based on machine learning.
  • Electrical solutions for simple motion tasks – as IO-Link and communication into the cloud.
  • Software for creating machine learning models in industry.
  • and many more.

The IoT is being implemented at this stage where companies expect performance advantages due to e.g. higher speed, heavier load management, securer movement etc. In the end, there might be lower costs, more items produced in the same or even less time.

Industry 4.0 could also speed up the use of technology in education. Many schools/ training providers have already implemented e-learning, m-learning or any blended learning technology system, combining digital content delivery with traditional training material and training activities, as well as with the use of devices like tablets, smart phones, smart boards, online Content/ Learning Management Systems, cloud based training sources like Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs etc..

The magazin „Personal manager” (02/2020)  postulates that work 4.0 merges with further education 4.0 when „Learning from work for work will in the future lead to a gradual dissolution of any boundaries between work and the learning environment. Learning mostly will take place informally at the workplace, alone or together with other employees or even business partners. Presence seminars will continue to exist, for specialist and/or methodological knowledge – the digital world offers audiovisual media and platforms which can be started quickly, are available almost everywhere and at the same time often already contain playful elements.” And this becomes even more visual, when thinking of the tools which can support in this sense – from the ones commonly aware to be implemented into the training/ learning support like computers, tablets, smart phones many people have, – also to digital watches, wearables (garments which include digital chips and/ or IoT sensors or other intelligent item) to machines at work with IoT sensors for example.

[nextpage title=”IoT – Technology in “Smart Education””]

Remember, IoT refers to the networking of physical objects through the use of embedded sensors they can collect and transmit information. The question now is, in what sense can the IoT help make education become “smart”.

We could transfer suggestions by G. Schwartz, Manager Industrial Products EY Austria from Industry 4.0 into education and refer to “IoT asks for an integrated view considering processes, data and devices[1]. In this sense, using IoT in education could not only have impact on training/ learning delivery but on the whole process at a school, from administration to building maintenance. Since this project concentrates on Andragogs, the following considerations will refer particularly to training/ learning aspects of relevance to them in general, leave out any other aspects and benefits IoT could bring.

Already today, we can see physical spaces enhanced by digital and context-specific components that facilitate better and faster learning at school or training institutes. This development is referred to as smart learning environments (SLEs). SLEs allow for learning approaches which can switch between formal and informal settings, independent learning and group learning, varying learning times and places, and analog and digital learning formats. This means to pave the way for synergies between the physical and digital world. Many schools have already Learning Management or Learning Content Management Systems or Virtual Learning Environment Systems set up in this sense.

Let’s come back to some of the aforementioned devices: students’ laptops, smartphones, keys, watches etc. These devices could connect to the internet. They could communicate directly – also via Wifi/ bluetooth – with peers’ devices or a smart learning environment implemented at school.

Using this connection could allow getting access to learners via IoT referring to them. This could be used to access students’ performance tracking from their school/course entrance to their assessment and/ or validation of learning. It could support individual or automated feedback up to students’ mentoring. For learners it could mean to receive eventually personalised learning pathways and access to specific learning content. Andragogs, they could connect new content offered via authoring tools or adapt existing contents. Smart learning environments may adapt themselves to learners’ needs by taking information from the environment – IoT -, processing it, and using it to initiate appropriate steps such as learning recommendations.

While today, most online education platforms already offer to enter and (re-)use or reshape training contents for individual asynchronous or cooperative, synchronous learning, algorithmes can be used to analyse data and show (performance) results, suggest next steps etc. in the near future. So, the next steps in „smart education” could be that IoT inform automatically and suggest further identified learning contents available and/or monitor behaviour and hence the transfer of learning into work by communicating with other smart devices at the work place (or at home), trigger respective next steps. And, these smart devices could then communicate back to the smart learning environment system at school.

The Andragog could be supported by IoT in his/ her work also in another scenario in which data about student performance taken during lessons as well as from assessment tests enable the system – and with the system also the educators – to personalise further learning as per students’ interest as well as capabilities or ressources. Connected systems could act as intelligent tutors which detect distraction and the desinterest of students immediately. The students could be provided more engaging content for continued learning.

[1] (in INDUSTRIE MAGAZIN  May2020)×500.jpg

The following examples should help initiate further ideas of benefit for training/ learning processes:

  • Heating systems can analyse how many learners are in the room/ movement detecting systems see in case learners move more than in other sessions. So, the system could regulate the room temperature individually which could support learners concentrate better during the learning session.
  • The school’s smart education system could be connected to an implemented entrance control system which in turn communicates with learners’ devices like laptops once they enter the school/ training centre. Collated data could be analysed to present learning contents based on learning sessions all learners have already accomplished; or, it could suggest learning contents to each individual specifically helping avoid repeating the same contents over and over again. This would particularly help in situations where learners do not come to class every day, where training takes place weekly/ in blocks each month or similar which very often is the case in adult education.
  • The smart education system could use analysed data based on a learner’s performance as well to suggest a specific pool of follow-up activities be presented by educators.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to transform adult training by profoundly altering how data is gathered and interfaced with users and automate processes. IoT refers to the networking of physical objects through the use of embedded sensors, actuators and other devices that can collect and transmit information about real-time training activity.

When IoT is combined with technologies such as user mobility and data analytics, it brings a new paradigm into education. IoT enables institutions to:

  • Create new ways to learn by supporting more personalized and dynamic learning experiences such as immersive digital textbooks and game-based learning,
  • Change how Andragogs deliver lessons and test achievement with smart audio-visual equipment, digital video recorders for lecture capture, and online testing,
  • Simplify operations for administrators by proactively monitoring critical infrastructure and creating more efficient, cost-effective processes for HVAC, lighting and learning environment management,
  • Provide a safer environment for adult learners and Andragogs with digital surveillance cameras and smart door locks

Example components related to Smart Learning Environments – Smart Boards

In some schools, digital Smart Boards have substituted black/white boards. Embedded IoT sensors can connect them to the Internet like they can connect any digital device to the Net.

A Smart Board or interactive board is a large interactive display in the form of a whiteboard. It can either be a standalone touchscreen computer used independently to perform tasks and operations, or a connectable device used as a touchpad to control computers from a projector. It can be used in a variety of settings in classrooms at all levels of education.

Usually, a smart board is connected to an attached computer, like e.g. a mouse, to act as a Human Input Device (HID). The computer’s video output is connected to a digital projector to project images on the interactive whiteboard surface. The user then calibrates the whiteboard image by matching the position of the projected image on the smart board, i.e. by using a pointer, as necessary. After this, the pointer or other device may be used to activate programs, buttons and menus from the board itself, just as one would ordinarily do with a mouse and a computer. If text input is required, the user can display an on-screen keyboard or, if the software provides it, utilize handwriting recognition (which is a specific software). This makes it unnecessary to go to the computer keyboard to enter text. Thus, a Smart Board emulates both a mouse and a keyboard. The user can conduct a presentation or hold a class almost exclusively from the whiteboard.

In addition, a smart board can be supplied with software that provides tools and features specifically designed to maximise interaction opportunities. These generally include the ability to create virtual versions of paper flipcharts, pen and highlighter options, and possibly even virtual rulers, protractors, and compasses e.g.

Andragogs might use such interactive boards for training activities like:

  • Running software (e.g. a web browser) which is loaded onto a connected computer. It could also connect to the learners’ or one learner’s digital device and provide screen sharing functionalities for example;
  • Capturing and saving notes written on the board;
  • Controlling the computer via the board using click and drag, markup language or other which annotates a computer program;
  • Using a survey system to conduct quizzes live in class, publishing a poll and capturing feedback onto the smart board;
  • Carrying out formal assessment

Similarly, an interactive video wall could be used, involving all – or some – learners e.g. into presentations, interactive work.

Example component: smart table or dynamic desktop

(Coffee) Tables at home which have IoT sensors, a touchscreen surface or an interactive screen like smart boards/ desctops, can be used for audio and/or video presentations or lessons; they can be used like computers e.g. with cloud based software saving data and details via cloud based services, or connected smart devices like computers.

Equipped with motion sensors they can be used for manual exercise like conducting musicians, assembling mechanical parts etc.. As a complement IoT device, learners could practice basic, repetitive manual work, they could train their reaction pace and concentration. Results from these activities could be communicated to the school system via the internet e.g. Smart devices, like smart phones, could communicate with them directly and then share details via the internet also with other systems.

This kind of components could be complementary to other digital learning devices, like computers, graphic tablets e.g.

Example component: Smart tracking systems

Education institutions often find attendance tracking as well as data management challenging. Conducting manual attendance and creating records happens to be a a time-intensive task for administrative staff and teachers who have to spend valuable time on non-teaching responsibilities. Smart tracking systems can support these administration tasks in an efficient way.

The use of technology like connected devices easily detect learners’ presence and classroom performance data can be shared within minutes. Digital registers not only create daily in-out attendance logs but can generate a separate report for each learner.

Besides tracking learners, these systems can also help keeping track of the working hours for teachers (or other school staff) with the help of biometric, access card points. It eliminates the need to calculate working hours, leaves, and working days for the staff – including Andragogs.

With an advanced attendance gadget, IoT can make both data collection and analysis easy. Andragogs can add the necessary records and send data directly to the central office and administrators can access related data at the same time.

[nextpage title=”Using IoT in training of low-skilled adults”]

One of the structural shifts taking place in education is the move from a knowledge transfer model to a (peer-) collaborative, information-sharing system. IoT may have a profound impact on the way we teach, because connected systems enable teachers to facilitate learning rather than to merely repeat information. Particularly low-skilled learners might need more repetitions than others at class but in smart/ digital education settings they could do it on their own, contents and activities could be modeled to their specific needs and they could  be supported by individual items they are aware of.

IoT systems can provide feedback, assistance, and monitoring – at classroom-level or at home when connected to the Internet – , communicate these automatically. They can help in providing individualised training/ learning sessions to a larger group of individuals.

For low-skilled adults, a benefit can be that with smart education they get access to a modern learning environment. They might not need extra devices like a computer or smart tablet but could use their smart phone and TV connected to the learning environment, or any other device capable to be part of the IoT.

Any specific needs should be considered, including e.g. possible lower digital skills, communication and (online) presentation skills, any lower competences related to learning to learn (when it comes to self-empowerment, self-guided learning to self-motivation) and team working in digital environments. Certainly, these are aspects, which should also be considred in traditional classroom teaching but could be addressed there easier in sitiu, in general. However, this may no longer be true where there are many low-skilled adults in one course or many of the same courses, or where they live in remote areas and could not participate regularly at traditional face to face training e.g.

[nextpage title=”Advantages of IoT in training of adult low-skilled learners”]

IoT solutions make training environments smarter. The IoT has the potential to redefine how adult learners, Andragogs and administrators interact and connect via technology and devices in training settings. It can help enhance learning experiences, improve educational outcomes. Andragogs in training of low-skilled adults can use IoT to make the education process more interesting and interactive; involving also IoT from home and the work place can help raise awareness of benefits and make lessons learnt accessible.

Especially for low-skilled learners, the Internet of Things means opportunities. By means of intelligent learning environments, they can access learning contents and formats that are precisely tailored to their areas of work or interest. Also conceivable are devices that recognise the users individually and adapt to them, for example with a larger font. IoT can therefore compensate for different dispositions of learners within a learning group.

Enhanced Efficiency

It is necessary to help low skilled adult learners develop skills in order to become ready for the future. Abilities like critical thinking, language proficiency, and self-direction can be developed greatly using the IoT. The study of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Team revealed that learners who use tablets to learn Maths can increase their score by 20%. By providing interactive experience at the individual level, a customized IoT app can greatly enhance learner´s efficiency. The IoT technology also penetrates along with wearables in the smart classroom. It can make learning more interesting and improve the productivity of both low-skilled learners and Andragogs.

Learner-Focused Approach

The education process needs both attention and interest from the adult learners which very often is even more difficult for low-skilled learners. The IoT technology enables education organisations to adopt to a learner-focus approach. It is possible to get information about the distracted thoughts of low skilled adult learners thanks to e.g. wearables and IoT combination. This helps Andragogs to maintain their focus on their low-skilled learners. The training institutions can also help work on reducing stress and develop a learner-oriented approach that can contribute to their development.

Anywhere Learning

IoT and technological advancements have enabled adult learners to access assignments and additional resources, along with digital textbooks. These days, training textbooks contain QR codes to simplify their downloading also for low-skilled adults on smart devices. It offers the facility of anywhere and anytime learning which is of advantage to low-skilled learners who very often need more attention, more repetitions, more exercises to learn and practice knowledge and skills. IoT also allows a 24/7 communication between learners and Andragogs – including any device also at home or at work that can be connected to the inernet. This helps low-skilled learners understand better the use and transferability of lessons learnt into their daily life.

[nextpage title=”New educators’ skills needed for IoT implementation in “smart education” “]

Since Andragogs are supposed to successfully familiarise especially low-qualified participants and those who are educationally distant with digital learning, the first step is to develop an awareness on the part of the Andragogs of how varied and challenging the problems can be on the part of low-qualified and educationally distant participants.

Very often they are dealing with very inhomogeneous groups of participants: besides a lack of motivation and awareness for future-oriented learning processes, multiculturalism, different migration backgrounds,  different educational backgrounds, lack of language confidence, educational qualifications, vocational training, missing or insufficient qualifications and professional experience and the resulting disadvantages in the job, on the labour market and in society are the biggest challenges. At the same time, this heterogeneity also offers the opportunity to convey to the participants the importance of vocational / technical qualifications or training. Therefore, Andragogs should not only inform their low-skilled learners about the training and entry opportunities, but also focus on getting to know, learning and using digital tools, the expansion of the so-called ICT skills, in order to not only give the participants better chances in working life and on the job market, but also to guarantee their continued participation in society.

Moreover, it is one of the key tasks of Andragogs to refer to the benefits of IoT in planning and designing training and learning objectives, developping and compiling training and learning contents and implementing it and any follow-up activities including assessing knowledge, skills, competences to the new teaching realities. They will have to consider the IoT-technology to plan sessions more in advance since most of their situative training, mentoring and/ or coaching moments will change. Further, they have to be able to use a specific online platform available and its features offered (e.g. learners’ performance and specific assessment possibilities offered like quizzes, online interactive self-assessment, or communication services and collaboration tools like fora, threats, chats or webinars) and support learners according to their digital skills in using it.

What this implies is that also educators will have to be aware of new needs in training and hence competences to upskill. Starting from usual tasks an Andragog has to perform to some degree at least (like planning a course (unit) and designing training and learning objectives for it, developping and compiling training and learning contents to implementing them and any follow-up activities including assessing knowledge, skills, competences), they will have to consider the technology can come in:

  • to plan sessions more in advance since most of the situative training, mentoring and/ or coaching moments might be „lost” not having low-skilled learners in classrooms anymore or this should be covered by technology,
  • with features offered (e.g. low-skilled learners’ performance and specific assessment possibilities offered like quizzes, online interactive self-assessment, or communication services and collaboration tools like fora, threats, chats or webinars) also supporting learners according to their digital skills in using it,
  • to create (new) training/learning contents in new digital formats (e.g. audio like podcasts, educational videos, Virtual Reality contents, digital serious games, select and inform algorithmes …) adapted to the individual devices in use and to understand how these contents can be of benefit to training also skills which need real-life context or settings, practicing them by repeating them and transferring them into real life or what training format should be used complementory,
  • to help related to data/ IT security aspects (not only related to one’s common personal data protection but also including smart devices from outside the own IT system and their communication to the degree necessary for the aimed use).

Most of the aforementioned refer to new digital skills, methodic/ didactic related competences and communication skills which are already with the related tools and systems being implemented in many education systems, including the necessary shift towards appropriate training approaches (like peer learning, Flipped Classroom, task based learning, project based learning etc.). But, there are particularly new aspects related to the communication between machines/ machines to individuals educators should know now, too.

Die Computerwoche” reports online about IoT security gaps and that „Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) can help by ensuring that only authorised endpoints that are logged on by the user and have been classified as trusted by the IT department can connect. Layering in Network Access Control (NAC) in turn ensures that the devices are truly trusted and meet minimum security criteria. Less trusted IoT devices are segmented into the correct network.”[1]

Further, suggestions refer to subdivide the network: Users bring new devices onto the network that probably should not be connected to the critical infrastructure.; Think Traffic Shaping: Traffic shaping, especially for suspicious data streams, can help mitigate the impact of network attacks and improve connectivity for mission-critical services.; If devices cannot be configured from a central platform, you should work with your staff [and student] during setup. This ensures that the types of default configurations are disabled (ibdem).

Most of these aspects the educators need to be aware of if not even solve themselves, but for some other a strong communication and exchange with the respective IT responible/ department will be necessary.

Communication and didactic aspects when it comes to IoT content and smart devices should not only consider the user, the learner and the skills/ competences one shall learn – the usual considerations -, but with IoT also need to consider more questions related to what smart device learners will use communicating to other smart devices since the infrastructure may give limits to screen size, format types, interfaces etc.


Summarising these, Andragogs should:

  • know the opportunities and risks of IoT,
  • know how learning transfer can be secured by IoT,
  • know methods to motivate and involve learners – especially low qualified persons – and know how to promote a self-learning culture among them by means of IoT,
  • use and promote collaborative and informal learning, design learning materials for smart learning and anticipate missing situational intervention,
  • know how to transform feedback and assessment into IoT support,
  • be able to structure their own working day in such a way that they can support and accompany the learners in their learning process – as tutor or coach,
  • to see themselves as learners who can reflect on and partially change their (previous) trainer behaviour and adapt it step by step to the changed conditions.

[nextpage title=”Summary”]

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a new system designed to increase connectivity between computer systems. It involves physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, able to communicate, collect and share data with other machines/ computers or humans.

One of the key ways that the education system is changing today is through IoT. Learning isn’t limited to archaic textbooks any longer. Andragogs can engage low-skilled learners in education by providing a series of additional materials, assessments, videos, and various interactive learning experiences through brilliant and a large variety IoT.

IoT can provid with new and better opportunities in adult education. When e-learning or m-learning already started the independence of learning in terms of time and place, IoT further enriches these advantages and the enormously expanded opportunities for cooperation via any smart device, at home, at school, at work or in any other context. In addition, there is a great potential for work simplification, scalability and the expansion of learning groups from schools also to work and home via IoT and devices used there.

Learning settings adapt content and teaching methods to the individual learning needs of each low-skilled learner. They take into account the respective interests and preferences, for example different formats such as text or video, they offer space for exchange with others and for experiments, they provide personalised feedback and support and they can interact with learners via different channels and devices. Algorithms may help in finding new potentials.

The greatest challenge in adult education at present is therefore that Andragogs also become familiar with these forms of learning and are able to present them to low-skilled learners in a pedagogically, methodically and didactically well prepared, goal- and success-oriented efficient way.

[nextpage title=”Final Quiz”]

[nextpage title=”Additional resources”]

Personalized learning:

Internet of Things for beginners:


Pädagogische Schriftenreihe des BFI OÖ, BAND 5, Digitalisierung, Didaktik, Internettechnologien, Birgit Aschemann, 2018