Fast and Furious: 5 Education Technology Trends to Watch for in 2019
What trends can we expect to see in education in 2019? An online Forbes magazine piece from Daniel Newman, an analyst and researcher focused on the disruptive potential of technology, sought to determine what digital trends in education we should pay attention to in 2019, as well as which have the most potential to alter teaching and learning in K–12 schools. Using Newman’s framework as a jumping-off point, let’s take a closer look at what could be the future of educational apps and digital learning in 2019.
1. Danger! Are those apps safe?
Newman pointed out that keeping students safe online needs to be at the forefront of any push for additional digital learning—or, as he phrased it, “The more common tech access becomes, the more we need to focus on keeping students safe from cyber dangers.” Specifically, Newman advocated for “high security” and noted that, as a parent, he has signed up for a weekly report on what his children have been searching for online. He went on to provide a link to an EdTech report on how students can be kept safe at school while using ever-present digital services such as cloud-based programs; cybersecurity expert Michael Lane, who was featured in the report, similarly emphasized the need for technology users (such as teachers) to be very aware of what information is being shared and by whom.
2. Cybersecurity: Don’t tell it, teach it
With regard to the ever-present problem of cybersecurity, several high schools have taken matters into their own hands by offering on-site training programs to their students, as highlighted in this 2018 EdTech article. As an added bonus, some of these programs offer students the opportunity to receive certification and credit toward a future career in cybersecurity, where experts say there is a growing need for trained professionals. The coursework and training is also beneficial for those interested in joining other tech-heavy fields where security and data privacy is a concern, according to EdTech contributor Melissa Delaney. As a result, more colleges and employers appear willing to engage with such high-school programs by sharing resources, curricula, and training materials to facilitate interested students in their quest to learn essential, marketable skills. Watch for this trend to continue and expand in 2019.
3. Personalized learning gains steam—now what?
In 2019, personalized learning is becoming more than just a buzzword. This billion-dollar industry offers a potentially transformative approach to teaching and learning that could solve what Anya Kamenetz of National Public Radio (NPR) described as the "one-to-many" problem of education. The challenge of having one teacher for many students is an issue that, according to Kamenetz, personalized learning seems poised to help alleviate. In a 2018 piece for NPR, Kamenetz noted that while it is still controversial for many, personalized learning may just represent the “future of learning.” ...But there’s a caveat.
Through her reporting, Kamenetz uncovered several areas of concern that surround the move to make learning more personalized, often through the use of computer-based programs. One is the issue mentioned above regarding how to make sure such programs are being used in a safe and secure manner. Another one is many schools' lack of infrastructure with regard to supporting e-learning essentials such as tech support and bandwidth. Further, according to research cited by Kamenetz, many teachers are “wildly enthusiastic” about personalized learning but also feel “left out on their own.” To expand upon this, teachers believe in the potential of personalized learning and want to engage in these practices—however, it is difficult, if not impossible, to do so effectively without support from school leadership and access to personalized learning resources (computer-based programs, for instance). In short, teachers need more support while navigating the emerging world of tech-driven personalized learning.
4. Gamification gets legs
Gamification—the process of applying video game principles to “non-game contexts”—is everywhere, and education is no exception. Indeed, research studies are being conducted to assess both the challenges and benefits of seeking learning through gamification, with the goal of gauging gamified content's ability to make learning more interactive and engaging, increase student interest, as well as boost “retention and comprehension rates,” according to a 2019 education technology trends piece on the EdTech website.
As Toronto-based news outlet The County Telegram clarified, gamification as a global educational trend does not turn learning into a game, exactly. Instead, it “uses game techniques to engage students in comprehensive learning mechanisms” that include “points, badges, leaderboards, challenges, and rewards,” and can be a way to encourage students to increase and improve their own learning. One example, courtesy of EdTech, is something called “backward grading,” which involves grading students up from 0 rather than down from 100. A typical classroom grading system has students starting with a 100 percent average that gets chiseled away with every assignment or assessment—a kind of subtractive system that punishes students instead of encouraging them to achieve. With backward grading, students can earn points (or badges, or rewards) by completing tasks or checking off accomplishments, much like they would in a video game environment, effectively improving their "score." Look for this concept to become more prominent in 2019.
5. Artificial intelligence
The rising use of artificial intelligence (for instance, in the form of automated teaching assistants) is another trend to keep an eye on. Many observers believe that the use of more personalized, computer-driven learning systems is a path to the future, and AI fits squarely into this vision. Writing for the International Society for Technology in Education in 2018, Nicole Krueger pointed to the growing notion that AI is rapidly becoming ubiquitous, meaning not only that many students can expect to experience AI-driven lessons in some capacity but also that AI must become “part of basic technology literacy.” As Krueger went on to argue, students will need to learn how AI works and how they can be part of it.
It may be overwhelming to think about the sheer number of tech-based changes that are moving into K–12 education, but as Newman wrote for Forbes magazine, “the changes we’re going to see in 2019 will pave a way for making many of these advancements more universally acceptable.”
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