EdTech Trends, Challenges and Developments

29 Jun

5077453679_3f51278a13_mPhoto Credit: Marlene Manto via Compfight cc

Each year, the NMC Horizon Report provides information about various educational technology trends. For this post, I am concentrating on the newly released 2015 K-12 Edition.

Key Trends in accelerating K-12 educational technology adoption are:

  • long-term impact (5+ years): rethinking how schools work and shifting to deeper learning approaches
  • mid-term impact (3-5 years): increasing the use of collaborative learning approaches, shifting from students as consumers to creators
  • short-term impact (1-2 years): increasing the use of hybrid/blended learning designs, rise of STEAM learning

For the school division that I work with, we have focused that last several years in rearranging the entire school experience by being part of the High School Flexibility Project, looked at various project-based learning throughout the school year such as Innovation Week, CTF Showcase, Genius Hour and continue to utilise Critical Thinking challenges (from TC2) and Cooperative Learning techniques (from Kagan Structures) to change the typical classroom environment to one of creativity, innovation and flexible learning for all students. We also are fully vested in the GAFE environment (sharing the various Chrome apps, extensions and add-ons to have students participate at their level) as well as building our digital presence via Edublogs (for classroom blogs and student showcase eportfolios), Twitter (check out #psd70), Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.

Challenges impeding this adoption are:

  • solvable (we understand and can solve): creating authentic learning opportunities, integrating technology in teacher education
  • difficult (we understand but solutions are elusive): personalizing learning, rethinking roles of teachers
  • wicked (complex to define/address): scaling teaching innovations, teaching complex thinking

I work within Learning Services that supports all schools, their staff and I also work closely with our IT department and other departments in using technology and embedding curriculum in interesting and engaging ways. We have facilitators who work with staff to create more inclusive environments for all students. We have staff who are experts in curriculum, early years education, etc. We also have many expert teachers throughout the district who are willing to share, collaborate and create together. We continue to talk about the Learning and Technology Policy Framework (student-centered learning, research and innovation, professional learning, leadership, access, infrastructure and digital learning environments) and see what are readiness is and where our schools need to work towards to move along. We also work closely with our New Teachers throughout the year to build their confidence in using the technology that is available at our school sites – projectors, document cameras, Smartboards, Chromebooks, BYOD, iPads – to name a few. There are always many professional learning opportunities for staff throughout the year. We are also looking forward to see where all the work in the province of Alberta on Curriculum Redesign will go after our new government has had a chance to review it.

Developments in educational technology are:

  • > one year adoption: BYOD, Makerspaces
  • 2-3 years: 3D printing/rapid prototyping, adaptive learning technologies
  • 4-5 years: badges/microcredit, wearable technology

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device Initiative has sprouted to various school sites and grade levels throughout our school division. A couple of our schools (one K-4, one 5-9) have delved this past year into 3D Printing and more are interested in using this tool in the learning environment. (For some its a budget concern and for others its pedagogical.) With Makerspaces we are seeing our Library Learning Commons staff taking the lead in introducing this to their school sites and some keen teachers taking it further and making curricular connections (ie. Caines Arcade). Some adaptive learning technologies being used are IXL Math, Accelerated Reader.

Overall, my school division sees the value in integrating technology into the learning and teaching environment. We see the many opportunities it creates for ALL our school communities from creating new ways to express and demonstrate learning, removing barriers (such as print or writing or reading) to engaging with each other, other schools and even other countries.

Take a quick read through the NMC Horizon Report Preview 205 K-12 Edition and then for a “meatyer” report, check out the full meal deal of the NMC Horizon Report.


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