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T&L advisors predict the hottest edtech trends for the coming year
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CARL HOOKER
DIRECTOR OF INNOVATION AND DIGITAL LEARNING, EANES (TX) ISD

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■ Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will finally hit big in schools. We’ve been teetering on the edge of this for a couple of years. VR seemed to make a big splash some years ago and then quickly died off. With mobile devices everywhere and multiple access points to educational virtual worlds (e.g., Nearpod and Google Expeditions), I think we’re on the brink of shifting from students consuming these worlds to students creating them. AR continues to improve, and with some far-out-there ideas like this brain band, tinyurl.com/AREEGTracker, teachers might be able to use it to actually see what kids are thinking.

■ Data will finally save districts money and help with learning. Another concept that we’ve been on the edges of for years is “big data” and what it means for schools. With more and more comprehensive, longitudinal data-tracking tools hitting the market (CatchOn is one I’ve been using), we can finally see which apps are being used, when they’re being used, and how they’re being used. That data will ultimately help districts make better fiscal decisions but will also help guide learning for teachers and students.

HANK THIELE
SUPERINTENDENT, COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 99, DOWNERS GROVE (IL)

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■ Increased use of video. I think we’re going to see a surge in the use of video as a means for storytelling from our students. Teachers and students are becoming more accustomed to video as a platform, both in consuming and creating. Easy-to-use tools like WeVideo or Explain Everything for creation, paired with YouTube or Google Drive for sharing, have expanded the possibilities for students to create in this medium. I expect that many more teachers will be assigning fewer essays in favor of short, well-produced video stories.

■ A new kind of portfolio. I expect to see a rethinking of portfolios built from pictures of artifacts students have created in digital albums as a way for students to archive and reflect on their work and projects. Applications like Google’s PhotoScan have made it easy for students, even in early grades, to scan in and archive their work. I believe that students will begin to build personal galleries of their work that they can reflect on as a way of measuring growth.

LISA NIELSEN
DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT AND PROFESSIONAL LEARNING, NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

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■ Digital badges! We will see an increase in digital badges. This is in part because digital badges are a better representation of skills and achievements in emerging standards than report cards or standardized tests. More and more teachers will seek and receive digital badges from their favorite edtech companies. We will see them popping up in signatures, social profiles, and resumes. Digital badges will also become popular with secondary schools because more and more colleges, and even the Common Application, will accept digital credentials as evidence of learning.

PHIL HINTZ
DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY, GURNEE (IL) SCHOOL DISTRICT 56

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■ We’ll see more wearable technology and more coding in the classroom, particularly involving immersive experiences like Google Expeditions in AR and VR, where everything you hear and see is right before your eyes, but with more interactivity so you can touch and manipulate what you’re seeing and hearing. I also predict that there will be software platforms for students to be able to build and create these environments for other students, similar to a Minecraft environment, but with better, more realistic graphics. I think there will be even more emphasis on coding for all grade levels in all subject areas, and with more robotic or drone automation as a focus, to better prepare students for their futures with self-driving cars, trucks, trains, and planes. Lewis University, in the Chicago area, is known for its pilot programs; in 2017, the college delivered college-acceptance letters via drone to local area students who were accepted into its flight program.

LEO BREHM
CHIEF INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, CENTRAL MASS COLLABORATIVE

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■ Open educational resources (OER) will continue to grow. The demand on our educators to differentiate and personalize will tax the already thin layer of traditional resources that schools have maintained. As educators sharpen their collaboration skills to engage in this curation process, they will better model this process for our learners. Look for the use of OER and the process of fueling them to increase this coming year.

■ Data, data, data . . . There will be an increase in the use of data to personalize learning, and we’ll begin to use more learning analytics and less big data. We’ll start focusing more on the data about how our children are learning and less on their attendance rate. Tools that unpack this data and help teachers understand how the students in front of them learn will begin to appear more and more on teachers’ computer screens.

■ The Tech Titans are sticking around. The focus on the education market by the big companies will continue. Don’t be surprised to see more of Google, Apple, Microsoft, and even Amazon at smaller, more local edtech events and professional-development offerings. Look for the terms “security” and “encrypted” to be the main selling points of their solutions.

STEVEN BAULE
SUPERINTENDENT, MUNCIE (IN) COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

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■ The move from school choice to course choice. Public schools will have to provide alternatives for students who want to take courses they don’t typically offer. They may do this via online courses or course-sharing with neighboring schools.

■ Computer science (CS) instruction for most. There will continue to be additional pushes from a variety of sectors to include more computer science instruction at all levels—particularly from early elementary through high school. Since there are not nearly enough CS-trained teachers, there will be an additional push for more online CS resources to be integrated into traditional curriculum.

SHAD MCGAHA
CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, WICHITA FALLS (TX) ISD

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■ Makerspaces will continue to gain popularity in the US, and they will continue to proliferate in schools. This trend has been really big abroad, and this year I really feel like the US will see significant growth.

■ The rise of AI and computerized analytics learning. These two will be big in 2018. The growth of learning-analytics content, software, and grading systems will give more and more users greater access.

MARIANTHE WILLIAMS
DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY, RIVER DELL (NJ) REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

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■ Coding for everyone. My prediction is that coding will become embedded within the K–12 curriculum across all content areas. As schools recognize the importance of coding and computational-thinking skills for real-life applications, vendors will help schools with lessons-on-demand so that districts are not reinventing the same wheel.

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