The Internet of Everything is Changing the Education Landscape

04/08/2014 12:55 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2014

The explosive growth of the Internet of Everything is driving a sweeping wave of transformation across the world. Education is among the many sectors experiencing its profound impact.

Technology has had significant effects on education over the past decade. What we've seen so far is nothing compared to the changes that we will see from the Internet of Everything in the coming decade. The networked connections among people, processes, data and things will change not just how and where education is delivered, but will also provide an opportunity to reconsider what students need to learn, and why.

With connection speeds increasing and hardware costs decreasing, we can now go beyond online classes to create broadly accessible immersive, interactive, real-time learning experiences. In the near future, time and distance will no longer limit access to engaging, high quality educational experiences. Anywhere there is sufficient bandwidth, students will be empowered to participate in rich virtual classroom experiences -- attending lectures, asking questions, participating in real-time discussions with other students virtually anywhere and anytime.

The Internet of Everything is transforming our basic assumptions about the purpose and nature of education. People today generally agree that the goal of education is to convey knowledge. But if all the world's knowledge is instantaneously available online via a mobile device, how does that affect what we need to teach in schools and through other educational channels? Perhaps education will become less about acquiring knowledge, and more about how to analyze, evaluate, validate and use the unlimited information that is available to us. Perhaps we will teach more critical thinking, collaboration and social skills. Perhaps we will not teach answers, but how to ask the right questions.

Technology will never replace the full, face-to-face experience that students have in classrooms today. But technology can supplement and enrich the traditional in-person school experience. We expect that schools will start to teach the new set of 21st century skills needed to help students make the most of technology.

Education empowers the workforce of the future, but the traditional classroom environment is reaching its limits. People are more mobile than ever, and with a truly globalized economy, talent development requires higher quality and more easily accessible training. The drive to connect everything requires a highly talented workforce; developing the workforce of the future starts now.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cisco Chief Futurist Dave Evans to discuss new opportunities and challenges brought about by emerging technology trends, such as the Internet of Everything. During our session, we took questions from a live social media audience, hitting on everything from the impact of skills gaps in certain areas to how wearable technology could change education.

Check out highlights from our chat below, and join the conversation in the comments section to let us know what you think the future of education will hold.