By Carl Hooker, CIO Advisor
My attempts at predictions last year had mixed results. However, failure has never stopped me from pressing forward so here goes my bold predictions that I'm sure will go wrong in 2014. While these predictions are focused primarily in the Ed Tech realm, I will throw in a couple of wild cards just for giggles.
Those Massive Open Online Courses had been through the ringer in 2013 and—like with many new ideas—there was some serious questioning about the validity of learning in a MOOC. Feeling like I needed to be an informed person about the subject before judging it, I took my own MOOC on the social & health impacts of a post-zombie apocalypse society in a course based on the show The Walking Dead. While the course was interesting to me, I can see that the less motivated might easily be lost in this online learning abyss. That said, any time you can freely gain knowledge (like how to cure your own meat for the end of days) is a bonus. I think they'll continue to grow and expand, especially as more credible universities create courses.
Textbooks become obsolete
Remember these are BOLD predictions! Let me clarify a bit on this one. Textbook companies will continue to survive (in the case of the "Big 3") and many will start to thrive (in the case of the open textbook market). I see schools being the biggest reason why this change doesn't happen right away. There is a mindset that a textbook is required to get through the learning objectives for the year. Until that mindset changes, they won't go away completely. However, I do think more and more districts are discovering that it might be more powerful to pay their own teachers to make a course/textbook than pay a company a 500% markup.
A new social media platform will take off with teens.
I go from one of the more bolder predictions to one of the "no duh" predictions. Every year there seems to be a new space that teens and tweens flock to. We know Facebook is as ancient as a 45 record to them, but we don't know where they will end up. Last year, SnapChat and Instagram were spaces they flocked to and in turn made "selfie" the word of the year. This trend will likely continue and probably spill into more of the micro-video platforms like Vine. However, if I'm going to be bold.... I say MySpace makes a comeback and I'm being totally serious. They re-branded themselves and made a snazzy iOS app that allows all the things teens love: an easy space to put stuff about themselves.
Wearable tech makes its way into the classroom.
Yes, the 2013 K-12 Horizon report put wearable technology, like Google's Glass, on the "3-4 year" horizon. Although, judging by how quickly trends are starting to take off in educational circles, I predict we'll start hearing case studies about how Nike Fuel bands helped battle childhood obesity in the classroom or how Melon Headbands helped students with their ADHD.
Augmented Reality becomes reality.
Just like we can't imagine a world without Internet, augmented reality is quickly shifting from "nice to have" to a powerful tool we need. Last year, apps like Aurasma and ColAR made big splashes in the classroom. I see this trend growing exponentially as more and more schools go with BYOD or 1:1 initiatives to get devices in students' hands. While I still think it's a couple of years away, my dream app that I want invented would allow the teacher to hold up his/her device and "see" what the kids are thinking with thought bubble floating over their heads. That could be both powerful and scary.
My SXSW presentation on "Surviving the Digital Zombie Apocalypse" will make someone sick.
While I don't plan to have all the gore of a typical zombie movie in my presentation, I do plan to disseminate some scary information about our brains and our relationships with technology (all while in full zombie make-up of course). This might prove troubling to some, so I'll have a disclaimer for all of those attending the session:
"Warning: Graphic Content. Some of the information presented here may be disturbing for some audience members."
The classroom desk will truly die.
I got a lot of mileage on my post on "The Obituary of the Student Desk" last year. It was inspired by visiting one of our new flexible classrooms that a third-grade teacher was testing out. After visiting a high school version of a similarly adaptable classroom, I realized learning no longer should be bound by an uncomfortable, immovable chair/desk combo. My hope for 2014 is that students' posteriors everywhere are given a break from those medieval torture devices of yesteryear.
My "Giving Up Google" for Lent experiment will be the stuff of legends.
Last year, following an exchange with some teenage students about how they "don't do email" anymore, I decided that I would give up email for Lent. While that experiment only lasted 19 days, it forced me and others to think about all the different ways we communicate. Ultimately it failed because people couldn't get in touch with me and while I wanted them to know why I was doing this, forcing them to give up email as well wasn't an intended outcome. This year, I'm going to do something that should only affect me. I'm giving up Google. To clarify, I'm not giving up Gmail, Hangouts, or Google Drive, but the ability to search. And to be sure I don't cheat with another search engine like Bing or Alta Vista (does that even exist?), I'll widen the challenge to include any search engine. That's right. If I want information in those 40 days, I'll have to either type in the URL of a specific site or "phone a friend" that knows the answer. It's like living in 1995 all over again. Regardless if I make it or not, like the email challenge, I should have some interesting data about how dependent we have become on search engines.
Let the future begin!