The Future of Technology in the Classroom (Part 3 of 3)

A five-year trajectory for technology can be the timeframe that puts previously touted science fiction concepts into a learning environment reality.

Technological developments can oftentimes seem surreal or futuristic. When you look at a classroom ten years ago (or even five), the technology footprint has a very different shape. As the advancements within the technological world make their way into learning environments, their impacts offers students the ability to learn key skills of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, etc. via these future shaping developments.

The five-year lens that the creators of the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition used to spotlight the technological developments expected to impact learning communities shines a light on the reshaping of technology’s footprint on education. In preparing students to be successful in their future endeavors, it is essential to offer them exposure to technologies that can strengthen their higher-order thinking skills and offer them the opportunity to interact with a variety of devices and mediums. As an understanding of current trends is developed, students are developing a contentment and comfort level for working with any new technologies they may encounter.

Four to Five Years

The Horizon Report’s five year forecast offers three milestones for expected widespread educational usage. In Part One of our The Future of Technology in the Classroom series, the focus was on the introduction of makerspaces and online learning within one year or less. In Part Two of the series, the two to three year timeframe holds the second milestone’s introduction of robotics and virtual reality. Part Three brings the third milestone and the final two technological developments expected to infuse their way into popular usage in four to five years.

Artificial Intelligence

Fifteen years ago, AI was the focus and title of a futuristic Spielberg movie. Fast forward to present day, and it’s a technological development currently impacting society and expected to garner a secure position in go-to teaching and learning tools. Students are already interacting with forms of intelligent software that modify and adjust to give a more tailored assessment snapshot or support as students work to achieve mastery of a concept. Many online practice programs and assessments tools are designed to meet students where they enter and build skills accordingly.

The AI applications that are expected to make a breakthrough within the next five years are more interactive in nature. Much like the virtual assistants that pop up in the consumer world, the education world is expecting to see virtual tutors making an impact and offering students around-the-clock assistance and feedback when they encounter stumbling blocks or hurdles. Learners will have the ability to seek out assistance in real-time and keep the momentum going as the encounter new material and challenges that may have put a hold on pushing through a roadblock in the past.

Wearable Technology

All the cool gadgets aren’t just for fictional characters like Tony Stark anymore. Wearable technology has surged into the fitness world, and as prices of these devices decrease, it is forecasted that their presence in K-12 classrooms will increase. Much like their use in the fitness realm, the immediate feedback response of wearable technology will allow student users to quickly adjust their behaviors in the pursuit attaining goals and/or mastery.

There are a variety of wearable uses shared in the Horizon Report. One example of a device worn on the finger allows students to project interactive content on any surface and is a real boon for flexible classroom arrangements. Many other current uses involve engaging students in the wearable tech design process and/or utilizing fitness trackers to attain goals linked to humanitarian efforts like the Kid Power program from UNICEF.

As technology develops and evolves, so must our usage of its components in the classroom. The advances to be looking for within the next five years will affect how students interact and react whenever any new technology is introduced. In preparing students for an unknown future, it is important to introduce the relevant and impactful components of the present. By keeping an eye on the six trends presented in our The Future of the Technology in the Classroom series and how to infuse them into mainstream learning environments, educators are preparing students to find success in an ever-changing future.