Higher Education Engagement Using Beacons

Recent research Preliminary Mobile Beacon Application Framework for Higher Education Co-Curricular Engagement, presents a conceptual framework aimed at enhancing co-curricular engagement in higher education through mobile beacon technology. This technology uses location-based or proximity sensors to interact with users via mobile apps, potentially serving as a powerful tool for engaging students with co-curricular events on campus.

The motivation behind this work stems from the recognition of co-curricular activities’ importance in developing students’ character, alongside traditional academic curricula. The framework proposed seeks to address the challenges of low engagement in such activities due to students missing out on opportunities due to lack of awareness. By integrating mobile beacon technology with personalised notifications, the framework aims to inform students about co-curricular events happening within their proximity on campus, thus enhancing their engagement and participation.

A preliminary conceptual framework is detailed, focusing on the design and application of mobile beacon technology integrated with personalised notification features to support co-curricular engagement. This framework outlines the components necessary for developing such an application, including beacon devices, mobile apps, event databases and notification profiles. The document elaborates on the characterisation of these components and the processes involved in deploying and interacting with the beacon technology to deliver personalized and relevant co-curricular event notifications to students.

The document concludes by discussing the development of a prototype application based on the framework, using the Flutter framework for cross-platform mobile app development and the integration of beacon technology for real-time event notification.

Automatic Attendance Tracking in Education

Advantages of using Bluetooth beacons for automatic attendance tracking in education include:

  • Improved accuracy: Bluetooth beacons can accurately detect the presence of students in the classroom, reducing the likelihood of errors in attendance tracking.
  • Time-saving: Automating attendance tracking with Bluetooth beacons can save time for teachers and administrative staff, as they do not need to manually record attendance.
  • Real-time tracking: Bluetooth beacons can provide real-time attendance tracking data, allowing teachers and administrative staff to monitor attendance in real-time.
  • Safety and security: Alerts can be provided when students enter prohibited areas.

Bluetooth beacons can be used for automatic attendance tracking in education by placing them in the classroom or lecture hall and configuring them to detect the presence of students’ Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones or tablets. When a student enters the range of the beacon, the beacon sends a signal to their device, which can then be used to record their attendance. The main problem with this setup is that students might accidentally disable detection. Not all smartphones/tablets work the same and there can be incompatibilities and the requirement for high levels of support. Also, a detection app needs to be created and distributed. The scanning for beacons can also reduce smartphone/tablet battery life.

An alternative setup is to have the students carry the beacons and use gateways to detect attendance. Data is set to a server running software such as BeaconRTLS™ or BeaconServer™. Attendance reports can run against the historical RTLS data.

Bluetooth Beacon Based Student Registration System

The Journal of Physics has new research into a Student Attendance Manager Using Beacons and Deep Learning (pdf).

The system automatically registers attendance without disturbing the class. It uses an iBeacon in each classroom to determine location. It also uses a camera and deep learning analysis to prevent students cheating the system by having someone else attend. The researchers say the system is better than biometric scanning and RFID that requires manual reading one by one.

The solution uses iBeacons but it’s the Bluetooth MAC address that’s used for room identification. The scanner and camera interface uses a Raspberry Pi that sends data to a server.

Read about Beacons in Education

iBeacons for Learning

There’s new research Exploring Bluetooth Beacon Use Cases in Teaching and Learning: Increasing the Sustainability of Physical Learning Spaces that reviews selected use cases of Bluetooth beacons in educational situations.

The paper covers attendance monitoring, smart campus operation, dissemination of educational content to students and the use of augmented reality (AR) combined with beacons.

App iClassPolyU used for research

Read about Beacons in Education

Student Attendance Monitoring with iBeacons

SEAtS Software, a student attendance monitoring solution has a new article that takes a look at options for implementing student attendance monitoring. It compares using iBeacons, mag stripe card readers, GPS, WiFi and QR codes.

SEAtS Attendance Monitoring Using iBeacons

The article concludes that iBeacons are best because they are easy to install, provide the best accuracy, are affordable, easy to use and reduce administration time.

Read about Beacons in Education

Beacons in 21st Century Teaching and Learning

There’s a new research paper by Charles Atherton, School of Education, University of Bristol, UK on Beacons: A tool for 21st Century teaching and learning?

Research took place in a school in the UK in June 2017 using a platform called Studywiz and the eLockers iOS app. It looked into the use of iBeacons to provide for enquiry-based learning, independent learning and individualisation.

The initial description of beacons is misleading:

“Beacons consist of a database inside a plastic casing (see Figure 2). They are ‘pas-sive’ (McDonald & Glover 2016, p. 3) pieces of technology that simply ‘push’ their content to any receptive device.”

This isn’t true. The content lies somewhere else, usually in an app or on a server.

The research found that beacons can be used to allow students to learn at their own pace while relieving teachers to provide move individual tuition. There were technical challenges with local network connectivity and closeness of beacons but these were eventually resolved.

iBeacon Driven Mobile Device Management for Education

Jamf School is a device management solution for education. It allows you to track devices and see their status. It uses iBeacon to allow subject learning material to be unlocked when students enter specific areas.

The Jamf web site has some useful content on using iBeacons in education:

Invisible Candles: Exploring IT Applications of iBeacons with Your JSS
Paul Cowan—IT Manager at the University of Waikato explains iBeacons, how they have evolved, how museums are using iBeacons to share information with visitors and how the Casper Suite can be used trigger events and gather proximity data.

iBeacons in Education
Video webinar on proximity-based technology and how it can be used to distribute and manage technologies in education environments. Covers privacy considerations, casper suite and jamf.

See the Light (and benefits) of iBeacon
Video on how Apple’s iBeacon technology works and when you would want to use it.

The benefits of iBeacons for education
Article on using iBeacons for device management and unlocking learning materials.

Jamf also has many more blog posts on using iBeacons in Education.