What’s Hot: 9 Major Ed Tech Trends for 2017
Education technologies are, by their nature, capricious. So it makes sense to consider what could drive innovation among classrooms for the new year. Our panel of K-12 experts weighs in.
- By Dian Schaffhauser
THE Journal invited nearly two dozen education leaders to tell us where they thought specific technologies would land on the ed tech thermometer in the coming year. We received 16 responses and interviewed eight of those experts to tell us how they came to their conclusions. Those are the same thoughts we share here.
Want to take the survey yourself? Register your opinions on this publicly available Google Form at http://bit.ly/2jeQknj. We’ll make the results available in the future.
Figuring out just what will captivate educators from one year to the next is a fickle business. The thing everybody was trying one year is on the way out the next. Other movements seem to have the staying power of cork in a bulletin board — always there, always ready for some new take. So it goes forthis year too.
The use of gaming, flipped learning, banning cell phones and purchasing tablets appear to be waning, while some new movements are definitely waxing. According to the 16 education experts THE Journal conferred with, you’ll be hearing a lot more about nine instructional areas in particular: active learning, augmented reality, maker spaces, Next Generation Science Standards, open educational resources, robotics and STEAM, coding and student privacy. Those last two are red hot. Among the nine, only two of those topics surfaced in last year’s list too: coding and OER.
As the world turns increasingly virtual, movements such as Hour of Code have succeeded in making computer science more accessible to educators and students in every grade, said Kelly Mendoza, who manages the professional development program for Common Sense Media’s education programs. “Teachers are figuring it out. It’s a hot topic,” she noted, conceding, “It’s going to be a while before your everyday teacher is actually shifting to including coding as part of their curriculum.” Part of the holdup is that coding still comes across as a “stand-alone thing.” Her hope is that eventually the act of coding will be viewed as “a literacy” and “ingrained” in lessons “just like print literacy or media literacy.”
Tom Redmon, a teacher at Hamilton School District No. 3 in Montana and a facilitator for LearnZillion, said he thinks the push on STEM has helped build the prominence of coding too. Once a week the students in his fourth grade pull out devices from a Chromebook cart and either practice keyboarding or coding “or a combination of the two.” Code.org provides the curriculum he and his fellow teachers use for that. To the kids, he added, “it’s kind of just games.” But alongside that, “they are getting a strong coding background.”
Even though the topic of coding is also coming up “in teacher conversation more often,” Redmon said, adoption isn’t moving as fast as he might have expected. “As with a lot of new innovations, particularly with technology, things seem to be slow to get started. I’m seeing teachers who are really just uncomfortable dipping their feet in. And some of it is generational. Some of it is just the teacher not being willing to put in the time to explore new options.”
Cheryl Williams, interim CEO for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), concurred. One problem is that “we really don’t really have the workforce to teach them that — no fault of the workforce.”
Jeff Knutson, senior manager of education content for Common Sense Education, sees the subject of coding as something that teachers “can learn along with their students,” in a nod to promoting the growth mindset. “It’s a great way for teachers to model for their students how they approach something that’s new or unfamiliar.”