Educational Technology Trends in 2017
If the world is experiencing a technology revolution, then many of our schools are at the forefront of change. Educational technology is no longer relegated to computer labs or media rooms. Instead, laptops, tablets, Smartboards, and even cellphones are incorporated into everyday learning tasks.
The result? More opportunities for students to access expert tools, collaborative learning, and tech-savvy skills. Let’s take a look at the ed tech that changed our classrooms last year, along with those occurring in 2017.
Process over product
It’s no surprise that in the age of innovation and ingenuity, education saw the rise of the “Maker Movement.” Adding hands-on, project-based activities such as engineering, sewing, and building to traditional academic lessons showed students the value of experimentation, and those who learn to think outside the box, take risks, and try new approaches will have an advantage in our fast-moving, technology-driven world. In 2016, the availability of design software, 3-D printing, and other offerings made it possible for students to execute more complex projects and ideas.
Rather than banning cellphones, tablets, and similar devices from the classroom, some schools have decided to embrace them. Thanks to educational apps and tech-driven networking, students’ devices from home double as learning tools at school. Bonus: Using their personal gadgets gives students an easy way to work together on projects outside of class.
Connecting, collaborating, and co-teaching
In 2016, we saw new tech-based opportunities for connecting with students in the classroom and beyond. Recently, Google launched Google Expeditions, which offers virtual field trips to everywhere from zoos and museums to Mars and ancient civilizations. Meanwhile, other companies, such as Nearpod, started working to combine traditional lesson plans with virtual reality. This technology gives students the ability to experience places they can’t see in person due to distance or cost, as well as to “visit” times far in the past.
Recent developments in ed tech are helping educators shift the focus from peer-teacher interaction to peer collaboration and review. Some educators have found opportunities for student-to-student assessment in a previously underused platform: blogs. According to Mogul contributor Karen Dikson, blogging is not only good for student assessment but also for self-expression. "When each student gets feedback from the rest of the class on the blog posts they publish, the evaluation process will be very constructive and personalized," Dikson wrote.
The ed tech advancements in 2016 set up 2017 for further progress. Here are some trends that were predicted for the current year.
More focus on process and products
It appears project-based learning is here to stay, and 2017 will bring the Maker Movement into sharper focus. In addition to teaching students to understand and value the process of designing, testing, and refining, resources such as 3-D printing, high-quality audio and visual recording, and professional-grade design software can help students turn their work products into useful tools for the classroom. Think of classroom libraries populated with student-created books, science centers filled with student-designed machines, and workshops stocked with student-made tools.
Data privacy and security
As students use more ed tech - including their own home devices - to complete schoolwork, schools will likely want to pay more attention to data privacy and security. Applications that collect data on students must be closely guarded, and online communication safeguards should be in place. As Future Ready Schools Director of Innovation Thomas Murray stated, "Everyone in the school community has to be aware of what information can be shared and with whom, and administrators must know how all the information gathered is tracked and acted upon."
Increasing blended learning opportunities
More educators will likely incorporate ed tech into their lessons as virtual reality continues to develop, moving beyond virtual field trips toward the augmentation of history, science, and literacy lessons. Picture students using virtual reality to test different scenarios for their engineering projects or experience the setting of a story they’ve read.
Online learning is another area of potential growth. Just as many undergraduate courses offer online degrees in new and specialized disciplines, the K–12 community could see an increase in online classes, too. Over the internet, students can access educators and curricula that may not be available at area schools, allowing them to experience personalized classes taught by experts in a diverse range of subjects. Moreover, schools may look toward expanding their curricula beyond the subjects available in physical classrooms by incorporating online classes for specialized subjects.
Student networking and review
Ultimately, our goal as educators goes far beyond achieving success in the classroom. We want to see our students become lifelong learners who will bring new ideas and innovation to their future careers. We know that great success often comes from great collaborations, so it is exciting to see how ed tech is giving students more opportunities to network in 2017 through the use of collaborative tools such as Google Docs, online calendars, and virtual workrooms. Plus, Skype, email, and even texting allows students to stay in touch with their classmates and meet other learners from around the world.
As ed tech continues to grow and develop, students and educators alike are sure to reap the benefits as long as effective pedagogy remains at the center of education.
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