The Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the fastest growing fields and an increasing number of jobs require expertise in this field. Yet very few academic institutions offer targeted degrees in the field of IoT.
The Internet of Things is changing how we interact with the world around us. Connected smart watches can provide real-time insights into our health and wellbeing; smart home devices such as connected refrigerators and lights can increase energy efficiency; and connected streetlights can help to manage traffic flow during peak rush-hour.
As more devices become connected, we need to ensure that today’s students have the right skills to drive this technology forward.
Designing a curriculum to teach IoT can be a challenge, in part because IoT is not a stand-alone technology, scientific discipline or paradigm. Rather, it is a combination of existing and well-established fields, including communication networks, embedded programming, artificial intelligence and computer security.
Students must be equipped with the right tools and skills to keep up-to-date with the extremely fast pace of their field.
Education professionals must find a way to combine these rather isolated fields together into a meaningful programme, and to explore and teach their interactions. Additionally, students need to obtain practical experience.
Students must be equipped with the right tools and skills to keep up-to-date with the extremely fast pace of their field. The market is nowadays exploding with new products, technologies and standards; what they learn during their studies will surely be outdated by the time of their graduation.
Therefore, a successful IoT curriculum is built on three dimensions: technical content, soft skills and teaching paradigms.
IoT is not really a scientific area. Rather, it is a business or application domain, combining recent innovations in communication, machine learning, data analytics and embedded computing. These areas have enabled new application areas, where computation can be performed on small devices, which communicate directly to each other without the intervention of people.
Therefore, several core technical concepts need to be covered for a successful degree in IoT, including:
Soft skills as all skills, which are not purely technical. Typical examples are presentation skills, general computer literacy or time management. Soft skills become more and more important, but are rarely targeted in academic curricula.
The most important soft skills for future IoT experts include:
IoT should be taught only at the graduate level, based on solid technical foundations, such as an undergraduate programme in computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering or similar.
A successful training programme in IoT combines a technical background with practical experience and soft skills development to provide the students with the necessary skills to flourish in the IoT field.
We cannot only rely on the traditional lecturing/ tutorial/exam system for successfully teaching IoT. When observing students at the University of Bremen, for example, they could not follow theoretical explanations when experts simply share their experiences with them; once they are faced with the problem themselves, they are not able to transfer the lecturing material to their problem. Therefore. hands-on experience is crucial and should comprise at least two-thirds of an IoT curriculum.
Successful tools and paradigms for teaching IoT are ones that change the game continuously. These can include:
The combination of the above paradigms keeps the students agile and flexible, and teaches them to quickly adapt to new “rules” in this shifting field.
Unfortunately, teaching and training efforts have not been well organized to date. Training programmes have focused mainly on technical content to help students enter the market quickly – without much focus on supporting their continued development in the field.
Therefore, a successful training programme in IoT combines a technical background with practical experience and soft skills development to provide the students with the necessary skills to flourish in the IoT field.
*Read the full article in the Digital Skills Insights 2019 publication.
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