A consortium for furthering education through advanced technologies has announced a £800,000 "Internet of School Things" project.

The Internet of Things aims to enable a world where devices, data and places are interconnected with applications and users over the internet, transforming the way people interact.

The school development, led by industry and academic experts, focuses on the Internet of Things concept to develop innovative methods for teachers and students to take a more active role in creating and sharing digital content in schools.

The DISTANCE consortium was awarded funding for the project through the "Internet of Things Demonstrator" programme run by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK's innovation agency.

The consortium will initially work with at least eight schools across the UK to define how the Internet of School Things can enhance learning in science and other subjects, such as technology and geography.

DISTANCE's goals are to have students and teachers measure and share data, using new technology in ways that help make learning fun, link directly to the curriculum, and "ultimately inform the design of the next generation of schools".

"In turn, this initiative will help incentivise UK businesses to collaborate with the education space around a technology market that analysts expect to be in the trillions of dollars, while setting the conditions to better prepare children with unique skills to work within the digital economy," said DISTANCE.

The consortium is made up of ScienceScope, Intel, Xively (formerly Cosm), Explorer HQ, Stakeholder Design, University of Birmingham's Urban Climate Laboratory, UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, and The Open University Department of Computing.

DISTANCE says it will accomplish its goals by creating an information hub in the cloud using Xively Cloud Services, an open and massively scalable cloud platform purpose-built for the Internet of Things.

This will enable the consortium to identify the mix of incentives required to encourage educators, students and businesses to share certain types of data openly for the first time.

DISTANCE said the key innovation is the provision of a platform and service layer to connect schools with third-party service and application providers, who can then supply internet-enabled measurement equipment and interpretation software.

Schools piloting the eco-system created will focus on the four themes of transport, energy, weather and health. DISTANCE will be developing a range of apps and visualisations of data that can be collected by schools, together with comprehensive curriculum-based activities for the schools to trial.

Following these trials the consortium will develop resources using the Internet of Things that can be used at scale across the UK as the project moves into its second year.

Chad Jones, VP of product strategy at Xively, said: "It's critical that schools understand how to leverage the IoT, so they can enhance the quality of education and prepare students to be active contributors to, and beneficiaries of, this 21st-century industrial revolution."

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