Beacons, #IoT and #xAPI for Contextualized Learning
Technically, beacons are devices that transmit signals that enable other devices like smartphones(can recognize the signals) to determine their relative proximity. The smartphones run apps that deliver content(trigger an action such as opening a website, playing a video or sound and more) to the users based on that proximity. Beacons go by various names including iBeacon (a registered trademark of Apple), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Bluetooth Smart.
An overview of the uses of beacons in education
An interactive handbook embedded in school environment
Lewis Smallwood, a student at Clevedon School in the UK, developed a handbook that uses beacon technology for delivering content. This helps new students become familiar with the school system in an interactive manner. The pupils access the content that is relevant to both their location and the time of day.
Using iBeacon to create learning zones
In this video educator Paul Hamilton shows how iBeacon technology has been used in education to create learning zones.
iBeacons experiment with Beacondo
In this post Dr Luis Perez shared how he created an iBeacon App in a couple of hours. He said: “From a UDL perspective, iBeacons could be really useful for embedding instructions and other context-aware supports that are available to learners when and where they are needed. One use case that is already in implementation is the use of iBeacons to provide environmental cues that help people who are blind navigate the environment in an airport or other place of public accommodation.”
More ideas on beacons in education from SAMR perspective
Using SAMR model, JNXYZ education created a framework for an innovative technology like iBeacon to be introduced into education. One example of redefinition is — students learn enough to begin collaborating via connections to other internet of things (IoT) devices such as smart watches and automated IFTTT (If This Then That) channels.
Wait, I’ve heard of IoT, what exactly is that?
Generally speaking, IoT is passing of information between things in a language they understand without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Now physical objects can sense physical world (proximity, temperature, humidity….), and do actions including talking to physical or virtual objects according to how it’s been programmed. So theoretically physical or virtual things can interact and communicate to each other with open web technology.
In our opinion, the above examples are just starting to explore the possibilities of beacons and IoT. At least 2 major purposes are:
- Bringing back the connection between students and the physical world and still with the connectivity with the Internet (online resources), furthermore, physical world can be empowered by Internet technology as well;
- Pushing contextual content where and when it’s needed to learners; besides, like Foursquare, it can facilitate the pull of content when moments of learning needs happen or self-reporting from learners.
Talking about contextualized learning, so far only location-based information is leveraged in the examples mentioned in this articles. Of course it’s not precise enough to provide personalized content for each learner, in marketing domain many have been trying to identify the user and retrieve his/her account history so that the content pushed will be more effective. (and less spam)
In learning/training cases, to record learning experiences triggered by beacons and to push/pull personalized contextualized content for individuals, we must have the help from Experience API, xAPI, and Learning Record Store, LRS. xAPI records all activities with standardized grammar and vocabularies as “Actor + Verb + Object + Results + Context + Time stamp ….”. LRS is independent from all tools or platforms, it stores data from across systems and provides real-time feedback or learning analytics.
The key of IoT is about data, also automation and insights enabled by data. That’s true in education and training.