The future of smart classrooms: To 6 key trends for 2017

Smart Classroom

The speed at which mobile devices, mobile apps, and IoT are entering the market is rapid, and with that it is no surprise we are seeing the classroom as an early adopter of this technology. With mobile devices at the heart of how this generation interacts, it naturally falls to schools to pioneer mobile innovation and enable learners to have a more enhanced learning experience. To do this, they must invest in technology that does not hinder learners’ natural desire to be mobile, but rather keeps them focused on the task in hand.

Through working closely with our customers in education, we are in constant discussion over the changing demands of the classroom. These include: Device proliferation, app usage, room/building environments, IoT onset, learner and teacher collaboration, and data-driven decision making, to name just a few.

Through these conversations we have pulled out six key themes and trends that we expect to see come to fruition in the very near future:

  1. IoT spreading across the institution – With Gartner estimating that 5.5 million new “things” connected to networks every day last year, adding up to nearly 21 billion connected devices by 2020, IoT is swiftly expanding beyond devices for schools. The onslaught ranges from connected lights and door locks to classroom instruction and learner registrations, with ever-more introductions in sight.
  2. Always-on experiences – It’s not only IoT devices demanding “anytime, anywhere” connectivity. Whether in the playground, classroom, gym or assembly hall, all users now expect speedy performance from their devices and apps, enabling them to work, teach and learn seamlessly anytime, anyplace and anywhere.
  3. Intelligent spaces – A year ago, location-specific services were novel. This year, context-aware mobility is about adding intelligence to spaces so that the space interacts with you. For example, when a teacher walks into a room, the configuration of equipment and amenities can now adjust automatically to that individual’s profile. Or, as a learner who has opted-in for notifications walks past a specific classroom, they will receive a push notification telling them when their homework is due.
  4. Wearables and location-awareness solutions – Although decision-makers within schools are still working out guidelines around maintaining privacy, many expect it’s only a matter of time before institutions begin leveraging data collected from mobile devices and networks as learners move around the school grounds. With research establishing that class attendance is the best predictor of academic performance, the ability to quickly identify at-risk learners enables establishing interventions that can help get them back on track.
  5. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for teaching – Wider access to commodity virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) innovations is moving the technology out of research labs and into classrooms. From entry level to higher level learning, teachers are embracing VR and AR as mechanisms to immerse learners in realistic simulations unavailable in the past.
  6. Multiplication of dense environments – Given the preceding trends, it’s a clear that device density isn’t limited to lecture halls anymore. Learners use multiple devices on site, from laptops to entertainment systems to connected lights. Outside the classroom, learners expect to share their experiences on smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Food halls rely on temperature gauges for warming trays, sensors on vending machines and scanners for meal tickets – all of which need network access, in addition to the learners’ devices being used during meal times. From your Wi-Fi network’s perspective, all of these devices are “things” demanding connectivity. What’s more, given mobile’s ubiquity, there’s little tolerance these days for down time or poor experiences.

Today’s learners have an innate ability to understand most user interfaces, meaning that for most, new devices are intuitive to use, making it integral to factor these devices into the lesson plans and school culture in general in order to maintain high levels of engagement. The smart classroom has always been an exciting yet sensitive subject given that it is imperative that learners continue to learn and grow their knowledge in core subject areas, but with the rise in secure IoT environments, we expect to see it thrive.

By Pieter Engelbrecht, Business Unit Manager at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company

Edited By: Darryl Linington
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Follow @DarrylLinington on Twitter

Editor of Tech IT Out. Former radio host of Former Editor of IT News Africa and ITF Gaming. All round techie, gamer and entrepreneur. For Editorial Enquiries Contact: or via +27788021400.