Emerging Tech Trends

  1. Mobile and Open Learning: Learning that can take place anywhere, at anytime, with anyone. 
  2. Device Agnostic Learning: Key to the device agnostic classroom is the ability to easily and quickly share and project student work from any device.
  3. MOOC Makeovers: If you consider MOOCs to be the petri dish for higher education, you will see them as an essential opportunity to revise and makeover traditional approaches to teaching and learning. 
  4. EdTech Start-up Mania: EdTech companies received 1.1 billion in 2012 from venture capitalist, angel investors, corporations and private equity shops (Gigaom, 2013).

Mobile and Open Learning:

One of the most profound trends affecting both K-12 and higher education is the move to support learning that can take place anywhere, at anytime, and with anyone. Gone are the notions that learning can only take place on campus or in the classroom.  Schools can now be open for learning 24-7.

Access to mobile technologies that can be used to support learning has grown significantly (see below), thus providing the majority of young people with a learning resource or educational opportunity they can take with them where ever they go.   This has the potential to put a teacher in the pocket of anyone who wants to learn.
  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  • 95% of teens use the internet.
  • 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members. (Teens and Technology Pew, 2013)
Those with concerns about equity and the digital divide should review the  plethora of data from the Pew Research Centre's ongoing studies that examine access to digital technology.

I appear to be one of the few people interested the EdTech endeavours of the developing world. The $50 Aakash tablet was awash in problems and has not come close to delivering on their promises. The New York Times article, An Idea Promised the Sky, but India Is Still Waitingprovides a detailed review of the problems the Montreal based company, DataWind, has faced in trying to deliver a product at price that could greatly reduce worries about the digital divide. Regardless of whether this product becomes a reality, I still think there is a lot to learn from countries trying to more with less, when we in North America still haven't gotten around to doing more with more.

Device Agnostic Learning:

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the iPad, I continue to predict that the future will be platform agnostic, even though the numbers don't support this claim.

The iPad is experiencing unprecedented adoption in the education market.  Educators are taking notice.  In the June quarter when most of educational buying takes place, iPad sales to schools doubled.  Over 2,500 schools are using iPads.  “The adoption rate of iPad in education is something I’ve never seen from any technology product in history,” Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said.“Usually education tends to be a fairly conservative institution in terms of buying, or K-12 does, and we’re not seeing that at all on the iPad.” (Forbes, 2012)

The proliferation of mobile devices means that the developers of learning resources must ensure that their tools are device agnostic and can be accessed from any type of mobile device. This will lead to a greater reliance on cloud-based and HTML 5 friendly resources.

MOOC Makeovers:

Instead of seeing MOOCs as the end of the higher education world as we know it,  MOOCs should be considered a the petri dish for higher education. As a large scale pedagogical experiment, MOOCs can provide the education community with an essential opportunity to revise and makeover traditional approaches to teaching and learning. Think MOOCs are only a concern for higher education? Be prepared for a MOOC coming to a high school near you. The flipped classroom movement, Khan Academy, and MOOCs are all are breed from the same tech-enabled DNA that attempts to take advantage of the web 2.0 world to provide students with access to world class resources and instructors. Regardless of whether you are looking to create a MOOC or flipped classroom these instructional strategies require highly skilled and highly trained educators. This could lead to the emergence of the post-modern educator.

 Postmodernism tends to be defined either as the period after modernism or as a 'condition' whereby established values are rapidly eroded by new technological advances and a general apprehension of what the future will bring. Postmodernism is therefore skeptical of explanations that claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person or within each paradigm, therefore having a relativistic view on reality (Wikipedia).

EdTech Start-up Mania:

Educators tend to get a little upset when outsiders begin trampling on their turf. The recent influx of entrepreneurs into the education sector is starting to show the beginnings of a turf war. The billion dollars that EdTech companies received in 2012 (Gigaom, 2013) coupled with estimates of a global education market being worth over 4 trillion (Education Week, 2013) has drawn a lot of attention from the start-up and established business community. News Corp's entry into the education sector with their Amplify tablet is already ruffling some feathers with great concerns about student privacy and profit motivated instruction (Forbes, 2013). I've never been a fan of profit-driven educational endeavours, but the recent intrusion of start-ups with dollar signs in the their eyes isn't the first and won't be the last attempt to see the school house as an ATM.  I can only hope that we will see an increase in the number Teach-preneurs or edupreneurs that pair their wealth of teaching experience with innovative approaches to teaching and learning that truly benefit students,

For the definitive review of the emerging educational technology trends 
be sure to check out the annual Horizon Reports that includes both 
K-12 and Higher Education reports

Inforgraphic and article on how teachers ranked the latest educational trends.

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