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The Internet of Things: the Future Happened Yesterday

By John Mikton
The Internet of Things: the Future Happened Yesterday

Yes, there is the Internet of Things: a world in parallel to ours where our devices, data, algorithms, gadgets, smart phones and digital tools interconnect, communicate, and work independently of our own input or monitoring. They provide us with efficiencies, automation, services and information, and even do things for us we often do not have time for. Some are invisible to our day-to-day interactions, while others are an integral part of our toolkit to communicate, work, and do tasks. The convenience, cost savings and growing reliability of the Internet of Things has become a necessary part of our daily workflow.
This growth is somewhat unbelievable if you take the time to visualize it. We now live in a world where the amount of devices is three times the global population—a growth that shows no signs of stopping:
• Looking to the future, Cisco IBSG predicts there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015, and 50 billion by 2020. (From The Internet of Things: How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everything by Dave Evans, April 2011 Infographic)
• Between 2011 and 2020 the number of connected devices globally will grow from 9 billion to 24 billion, as the benefit of connecting more and varied devices is realized. (From The Connected Life: A USD4.5 trillion global impact in 2020
• There will be one trillion sensors embedded in humans and machines by 2020 (From David Russell Schilling, May 19th, 2013.)
So what does this mean for us? What does it mean to live in a world where our dependence on digital devices and hardware ecosystems is non-negotiable? As our lives get tied up in a world of machines, how do we balance, control, monitor and engage with the Internet of Things in a manner that allows us to still feel in control?
The digital devices we use, connect, and interact with have become seamless parts of our day. Many of the processes and tasks that they complete are invisible to us. Rarely do we need to take our digital devices and tools apart, or sit down and understand how they work or why they are working, and this growing disconnect between our own understanding and participation is creating a gap: a gap where we are becoming more and more sidelined, and where we are no longer active but passive consumers of the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is predictive and intelligent. This dynamic will impact our world significantly: redefining organizations, work forces, how we function as economies and societies. In tandem, it will challenge our ethics, relationships, and interactions with machines.
For educators and educational institutions, this reality should be putting pressure on how we engage and deliver learning models so we may remain relevant in a world of machines. There is no doubt that continuing with our current models still seems acceptable, but are we avoiding the present with a belief and a pedagogy rooted in our past? How much longer can we allow this disconnect to occur in the walled gardens of our educational organizations?
The fact is, the world of today, and more importantly, the world of tomorrow, needs us to re-evaluate and redefine our pedagogy. We have a responsibility to ensure that every learner is immersed in a curriculum deeply rooted in authentic, relevant, connected, personalized, differentiated and collaborative learning ecosystems. The Internet of Things and our world require all of us to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. The world’s accelerated rate of change will not wait for our hesitations and indecisiveness to radically redefine our pedagogy. To feel comfortable and continue with a system that is outdated is a terrible way to model and mentor our learners.
The future actually happened yesterday, so let us engage and be proactive in taking the dive to reshape and redesign our educational organizations to bridge the growing disconnect with the Internet of Things. It is the present, and our student's future, which we need to act on.
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John Mikton is Director of Information Technology at the International School of Prague, Czech Republic.

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