The Beginner’s Guide To The Internet Of Things

What does ‘the internet of things’ mean, anyway? It is a term that I’ve heard periodically over the past few years but explored little and never wrote about here, as it doesn’t specifically refer to education and there are so many other (specifically) relevant things to share and talk about.

The short explanation is that the Internet of Things refers to the interconnectedness of devices of all types – especially ‘smart’ devices that can react, anticipate, and adapt as necessary. In short, this interconnectedness and advancing technology is expected to simplify automation in so many areas of our lives.

That said, when I stumbled across the handy infographic below, I thought that it offered a pretty solid explanation and some interesting facts and figures, but also a good jumping off point to explore how the concepts apply in the classroom. Especially when you see the list of barriers to widespread automation – many of them can mirror the issues of bringing any new technology into your classroom.

Keep reading to learn more, and tell us what you think: What ‘automated’ things do you think you’ll see in your classroom in the near(ish?) future? What things would top your wish list? Weigh in by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

The Internet of Things

  • The internet of things means devices that can sense aspects of the real world, like temperature, lighting, speed, etc – and report or act on that real-world data.
  • An example of this would be a smart refrigerator which can read RFID tags on groceries and identify what you’ve put in there – cool, huh?!
  • By 2020, it is expected that there will be 6.58 internet connected devices per person, or around 50 billion devices for for 7.6 billion people
  • By 2016, the vast majority of data will be mobile data
  • The concept/term “The Internet of Things was first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, from the Auto-ID center at MIT
  • In 2013 there were more than 10 billion connected objects
  • The Machine to Machine (M2M) sector  is currently a $121bn business that is expected to grow to $948bn by 2020


  • RFID tagging of products and items has not really trickled down to consumers yet
  • Home appliances don’t need replacing at the same rate as things like smartphones, tablets, and computers
  • It is difficult to get different devices that are made differently to ‘talk’ to one another
  • Many privacy and security implications

internet of things


  1. Ken

    August 4, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Katie,
    Following is a link to another good intro to the Internet of Things, including a TED Talk on the subject.

    I enjoy your posts. Thank you for your willingness to keep us analog folks informed.

    Best regards,

  2. Kajal Sengupta

    August 5, 2014 at 1:57 am

    Internet of things certainly gives us an idea of shape of things to come.It makes me feel that those of us who are in fifties now, will almost become redundant by the time all theses changes come. The way I saw older people grappling with a simple device like mobile phone I wonder how fast one has to reinvent and keep oneself abreast of the new technologies. It is going to be quite scary I must say.