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Education: The Next Beacon Hotspot

Over the years, digital technology has revolutionized many domains including retail and travel. Of recent, innovation in the digital and mobile technology space is creating a marked impact on education, particularly on the self-learning and self- improvement side. Such technological developments have the potential to change the way students learn and teachers teach. However, most educational centres are still grappling with the idea of using mobile phones and iPads inside the school premises for learning and communication.

According to a study by Pearson, a British multinational publishing and education company , 92% of students believe that tablets or smartphones could improve their learning experience. Surely, its time for educational centres to welcome the usage of mobile phones within campuses for learning and even better communication.

Coupling mobile phones with innovative ideas using iBeacon technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) opens a host of opportunities and makes the learning experience far more exciting.

Replacing conventional timetables

Traditionally, students are provided with a paper timetable which gives them an overview of their scheduled classes. Few educational centres also allow students to access the timetable on the school’s website. Under these circumstances, having to refer to a timetable multiple times a day before going to classrooms for lessons, can be cumbersome.

Beacons can come in and make things easier for students on a regular basis. Schools can implement a beacon enabled scheduling system, which can push notifications to students on the classes scheduled for that day as soon as they enter the classroom. This can give students a heads up to what classes to attend. It is also possible that the same system can send notifications on the details around a class such as the lessons scheduled for the day or the teacher conducting the session, just before the class begins.

Promoting upcoming events

Most universities host a number of events as a part of their academic year. To make students aware of these events and activities, the administration posts notices on the respective departments’ bulletin boards. Many a time, these notices are either ignored or seen after the event. This is a loss for the institution in terms of effort as well as for students in terms of knowledge.

Beacons can help here as well, by pushing notifications on upcoming events or activities held by a specific department to the student’s device just as he/she walks into that department.

Enabling contextual understanding

In today’s fast paced world, students opt-in for diverse subjects and are adapting to hectic schedules. With this, it becomes hard for students to have a contextual understanding of what is being taught. Recalling previously taught content is the only way to keep up with what is happening. Beacons can trigger this recall by, sending information to students on what was taught at the previous class just as they enter a particular lecture hall.

Other potential use cases

– In the library: The main purpose of a library is to entice people into reading. But with the huge amount of choices, readers are overwhelmed and confused about what to read. Beacons when deployed at a particular book section, can trigger relevant notifications based on the genre of books available in that section. Notifications could include popular books of the same genre, new collections, etc.

– In the cafeteria: Irrespective of whether students are looking to grab a quick bite or order an elaborate lunch, students often spend a lot of time waiting in long queues outside cafes. One way to avoid this is to place beacons at common locations in the university and send a notification about a particular cafe being ‘overcrowded’.

– In labs: Sometimes, the administration of universities optimize for lab equipment too much thus resulting in a shortage. Under these circumstances, most students are often left waiting for equipment, and thus left unengaged for long periods. Beacons can help students use this waiting time effectively by notifying them if another lab has the same equipment available.