Teaching the Internet of Things

Bill Saichek spoke to attendees of the 2017 HI-TEC educator conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Two faculty members associated with the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) recently delivered a standing-room-only conference presentation on teaching the Internet of Things (“IoT”) to IT networking students. Brian Nelson (Lansing Community College) and Bill Saichek (Orange Coast College) spoke to attendees of the 2017 HI-TEC educator conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Here are some highlights from that talk:

  • The IoT market continues to expand. New devices are being release all the time and both traditional IT companies like Cisco and smaller startups like TP-Link entering the IoT space.
  • Security remains the biggest concern with IoT devices. The more devices that are deployed, the more vulnerable they all are.
  • More and more, IoT manufacturers are using multiple device controllers that use a common set of APIs. This is the first step towards more integrated components, common communications, and standardized protocols.  Before, while common protocols may have been used, there was little operability – you had to use proprietary controllers.
  • The biggest challenge in teaching IoT is that you need a lot of “things” to support the curriculum. Individually, the things are small and inexpensive, but you need a lot of them.  Ideally, this also means that you need a specialized lab – it’s a big challenge to set up and tear down IoT hardware for every class.
  • Faculty will need to develop a background understanding of the “things” – for example, teaching IoT thermostats will require an understanding of how HVAC works.
  • As the IoT market expands into other industries, IoT classes may attract students from trades like construction, engineering, manufacturing, and aviation (i.e. drones). These students will likely have little IT experience and if so, this can be addressed by creating two classes – a “100 level” class for those with little experience in IoT to bring them up to speed on the basics and also a “200 level” class as an IoT capstone for those with networking experience.
  • Classes that may benefit from adding an IoT element: CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+; Cisco CCNA 1, VoIP, Ethical Hacking, and Fundamentals of Wireless. Further, DHTI or Residential Networking classes could easily be repurposed into an IoT class.

If you’d like a PDF copy of the slide deck, click here.

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