Internet of School Things (DISTANCE)


How can the internet of things support open education by encouraging educators, students and business to share certain types of data openly for the first time?



Xively, Science Scope, Explorer HQ, Stakeholder Design, University of Birmingham’s Urban Climate Laboratory, UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, and The Open University.

DISTANCE (Demonstrating the Internet of School Things – a National Collaborative Experience) was a project working with eight UK schools representing geographical, socio-economic, and domain-diversity across UK, inclusive of primary, middle and secondary levels. We developed hardware, software and web services that teachers used in the classroom to enrich their lessons with sensors and sensor data. Our goal was to design new ways to support the next generation not only as consumers of the future digital data economy, but also its creators.

The project’s design process placed dynamic collaboration with teachers and students at its core –  collaborating with students and teachers on key project deliverables, from the initial visioning workshops, to developing technologies suited to teachers’ and student’s interest in bringing the real world into their classrooms, to the in-situ fieldwork and feedback allowing rapid iteration of session plans, data visualisations and interactive platforms.

Key outcomes:

We developed and deployed an end to end technical and social solution (30+ Intel Galileo based IoT devices).

Delivery of a dozen participatory design workshops with students and teachers, crossing diverse domains such as weather, mobility, performance, robotics, energy and health.

Development of OFSTED-read curriculum and technology prototypes supporting over 10 use cases.

Design of three web-based user interfaces  for data visualisation.