There is no doubt that education is moving at the speed of technology. From coding to wearables and from 3D printing to Google Apps, schools are implementing new tools and approaches to meet their students’ need for technology-rich learning environments. A powerful tool to help transform learning, technology can improve education for today’s students in myriad ways.
Understanding how to capitalize on these technology trends effectively is essential for administrators and educators to be able to shape and enhance K-12 education. At the annual Future of Education Technology Conference, attendees are given the opportunity to learn from experts about how best to translate technology into effective teaching practices. The conference kicks off on January 24, 2017, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. In the meantime, we have a sneak peek at 10 of the hottest topics in education technology to whet attendees’ appetites.
- Virtual Reality: The promise of virtual reality (VR) is that, instead of reading about a cell’s structure in a textbook, for instance, students can go inside one by placing a pair of goggles on their heads. With the introduction of Google Cardboard, VR experiences for students have become more of a reality for schools with tight budgets.
- Coding: Computer science skills are fast becoming a basic necessity for today’s workforce. Bolstered by the federal Computer Science for All initiative, many K-12 schools are incorporating computer science education into their curriculum in an effort to increase exposure to the subject and expand the number of students entering the field.
- 3D Printing: Through 3D printing, students have new ways to test scientific principles and gain hands-on experience in architectural design and other areas. The decreasing costs of this technology tool are driving more schools to embrace the 3D printing trend and bring real-world challenges to life for students.
- Cybersecurity: Despite the growth of technology and data usage in schools, privacy and security practices generally have not been able to keep up. As a result, cybersecurity is an increasing concern for many school leaders as they scramble to balance their evolving IT needs with the need to implement necessary data privacy policies and procedures.
- Inclusive Learning Technology: Delivering a personalized learning experience means that education must be inclusive and accessible for all students, including those with disabilities. New technology solutions are reducing learning barriers for students with special needs while providing access and engagement for all students.
- Wearables: From Fitbits to Apple Watches, wearables have become mainstream among consumers. Now, schools are exploring how these ubiquitous devices can be incorporated into classrooms and wellness strategies for students and teachers alike.
- Learning Analytics: The smart use of data and analytics is creating more ways for schools to tailor educational approaches to better serve their students and improve outcomes. Although still in its infancy in some respects, as schools become more comfortable and proficient with harnessing the power of big data, educators can expect to hear more about this growing trend.
- Google Apps for Education: In addition to Google’s VR tools, Google Apps for Education (GAFE) keep getting better and better, with the introduction this year of new tools and services “for busy teachers and curious minds.” Innovative apps like Explain Everything and WeVideo are expanding the creative possibilities within the classroom.
- The Maker Movement: The maker movement within K-12 encourages students to design and build solutions to particular problems using 3D printers and other technology and tools. The approach is lauded for fostering hands-on collaboration, experimentation and a growth mindset.
- Gamification: The use of games, particularly in elementary schools, has exploded recently with nearly 50% of teachers reporting using them in their classrooms last year. It’s no wonder, with the introduction of games such as Minecraft Education Edition, which teachers use to support students’ ability to collaborate and solve problems on a wide variety of topics.