Staying on top of technology can be a daunting task. Filtering through the latest buzz words, devices, system upgrades, digital platforms, etc. is a full-time job in and of itself. Recognizing which technological trends will have the most significant and constructive effects in the classroom is essential to ensuring that students are well-prepared for whatever their futures may entail.
The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report – 2016 K-12 Edition has eliminated some of that recognizable guesswork for educators. The Horizon Report is the culmination of fifty-nine experts’ collaborative research on technology and transforming learning in K-12 environments. With a wide array of takeaways for educational stakeholders, the five year forecast for sharing the technological trends making their way into the classroom offers educators a snapshot of which impactful technologies are already entering or will soon be introduced to classrooms.
One Year or Less
In Part One of the series, we’re looking at two trends that are already making their way into classrooms and/or are expected to garner mainstream usage within the next year. While the implementation may look different within various environments, the benefits of adding these technological developments to the learning environment will be apparent as students’ problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, and a host of other skills are boosted.
The ability to tinker, create, design, and explore form and function is at the very heart of what makes makerspaces so engaging. Students learn invaluable skills by doing rather than simply viewing, and the concept of makerspaces is firmly grounded in hands-on learning. The tools and products may look different across the K-12 continuum, but the development of resilience and perseverance as students experience trial and error failures are invaluable skills to take to any learning or life situation.
While budgetary constraints may play a huge role in the appearance of a makerspace, a workshop in every classroom isn’t the only way to invoke the benefits of this concept. Mobile units to be shared within buildings, districts, and/or larger communities are increasing in popularity. State-of-the-art technologies and equipment make for great spaces, but they are not the only avenue for garnering the benefits of making. Lots of resources exist for creating makerspaces on a budget.
Hopping online is commonplace for students these days, but online learning is more than simply hitting the search button. With a huge influx of blended learning, flipped classrooms, online courses, etc., students are doing more than just collecting information. Online learning gives students access to endless resources that can enhance their in-class experiences, make advanced coursework available, and/or allow for an online-only education if need be.
Through online learning, students are able to create digital artifacts that demonstrate understanding, explore a wide range of interests, connect with other learners and experts, etc. Teachers are able to enhance their pedagogical resources by encountering new strategies, participating in discussions/forums, improving their digital proficiencies, etc. Online learning truly removes the four walls of the traditional classroom and offers students and teachers a much more far-reaching and forward-thinking outlook.
The technologies found at the beginning of Horizon’s five-year forecast are likely familiar and possibly already in place in many classrooms. As makerspaces and online learning take root and become more commonplace in education, additional developments will start to appear alongside them. In Parts Two and Three of The Future of Technology in the Classroom, we will take a look at what to expect beyond the one-year window.