Personal area networks in Education | Jan17 Newsletter
“Beacon of education” might be a bit of a cliché, but beacons in education are definitely hot right now. Installing beacons around a campus enables pupils to download learning resources and exercises related to their lessons through an application on their phones or tablets. It’s more engaging and more personalised, two things that any teacher will tell you are golden in education.
What is a beacon?
Beacons are low energy Bluetooth-emitting devices. They push out messages and information to individuals by connecting to an application the individual has on their phone or tablet. Beacons are simple to set up and don’t cost much, which means they punch far above their weight in enriching the learning experience. (Although teachers do need training in how to plan lessons and resources to take advantage of them.)
Uses in the classroom
Teachers might, for instance, use the technology to deliver:
- Core content
- Visual aids
- Revision exercises
Teachers can also personalise tasks—setting them according to different abilities even within the same classroom. Beacons can bring together websites, videos, and quizzes prepared by the teacher. But they can also help students record and share their own resources.
Beacons can send information to specific areas of a classroom to personalise group learning. They can also lock down information outside class time. When the teacher enters the room, access is unlocked. When the teacher leaves the room, it’s locked again.
Outside the classroom
Beacons can enrich events like open days with interactive tours or turn the school bus into a more productive place.
New students can be immersed more quickly into a school with tools like adaptive handbooks. This helps new students become familiar with the school system in an interactive manner. Instead of having a pile of information to digest and remember when relevant, beacons give information in context. Content that is relevant to a student’s location within the school and the time of day gets sent to their smartphone.
And no more students getting lost between classrooms. When everyone’s schedule is on their phone, including a map that shows their location and gives them directions to the next classroom, what could go wrong?
In an emergency
If there’s an emergency in the school, beacons can be useful to give an immediate headcount and the locations of all students holding devices.
How complicated are beacons?
Beacons are compact and easy to set up. Potentially as small as a USB flash drive, they can be plugged into computers or wall outlets. As with any technology, how effective they are depends on how well they’re used. But if you have teachers who are excited about personalising lessons and getting kids engaged, talk to them about beacons and see how they respond.