ISTE2014 logoISTE 2014 marks the launch of summertime for many educators as they come together to connect and share ideas about technology and innovation.  Unsurprisingly, the theme of “connectedness” continues with this year’s show in Atlanta.  The ability for schools to connect to the Internet and help make access to technology ubiquitous is changing learning in ways we probably never imagined: students can now take virtual field trips; they can access almost any information any time with the touch of a button, and traditional textbooks are going digital.  Rapid advances in technology are accelerating change.

In 2015, 25 billion devices will be connected to the Internet.  More things are connected to the Internet than there are people in the world.   By 2020, that number will double to 50 billion devices, and each person will have an average 6.58 devices.  We know that Internet of Things (IoT) connections will grow from two billion to six billion in the next five years, producing an enormous amount of information.

Cisco’s Internet of Everything (IoE) for education expands on this year’s ISTE theme because we know that it’s about more than connecting things.  IoE helps schools to make meaning out of the information being generated by those connections.  Meaningful connections consider people, process, data, and things, helping schools turn information into action to create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunity for schools and students.

Examples of IoE in education are here today: Katy Independent School District (ISD) in Texas has deployed a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, investing in a core infrastructure where students can use their own devices to connect to the Internet, their teachers, outside experts, and one another.  Katy ISD’s former Chief Information Officer Lenny Schad said, “There wasn’t one teacher who didn’t see improvements in engagement and test scores.”

Successful BYOD programs are about more than just connecting devices to the Internet, and this is where IoE comes into play.  Katy ISD worked with Cisco to make sure they’d considered the processes they would have to have in place to manage the program.  For example, they reached out to teachers who were early adopters first and engaged them in created a Web 2.0 toolbox; they are capturing valuable data about usage and test scores; they thought through how the devices would be used to connect people, and finally, they made sure that the things (devices) would be connected to the Internet, and that they had the right core infrastructure, management tools, and security and privacy protocols to support the devices.

Los Alamitos School District in California is another example of how the education sector is capturing IoE.  This district is using Cisco’s Notifi-ED solution to broadcast messages from the superintendent’s office to the community to inform them of the district’s plans to manage their budget, alert parents about the district’s response to poor air quality resulting from wildfires in surrounding areas, including instructions regarding school openings and closings, and after-school event cancellations; automatically send messages to parents and guardians when students are marked absent in the district’s Aeries student information system; and distribute school-level updates including testing and event reminders.

District leadership considered all aspects of IoE to make this successful, including the things that would be connected to the Internet, the people who would be reached, the processes to ensure a strong implementation, and data to measure results and help improve efficiency.  As a result, the district increased student attendance by .04%, equating to $25K more in funding; eliminated several routine administrative tasks, reducing staff requirements by 50% in some schools, and decreased costs and increased efficiency by going paperless.

This week at ISTE, we’ve been thinking big about the IoE and the impact that this major movement will have on education.  Beyond improving connections, we believe that IoE has the power to completely transform education for greater student success.

If you attended ISTE this week, what was your favorite part?

If you would like to read more about IoE and education, check out this whitepaper, and let us know what you think the biggest impact will be in education.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group