Top 3 EdTech Trends for 2018

Educational technology trends change at a rapid pace. This affects both the tools students use, how they use tools, and how educational needs are met. When you look at the ISTE timeline for the adoption of educational technology in schools, 2016 marked the transition from using technology to learn to transformative learning with technology.

educational technologyHow has it been going? Are we there yet? To find out, we studied our Top 3 EdTech Trends for 2017 and evaluated them for 2018:

  • Student-Centered Focus—EdTech enables students to transform their own learning.
  • Thoughtful Integration by Teachers—Teachers are a dynamic force for change when supported by ongoing professional development on technology integration.
  • Informed Decisions by Leadership—A recipe for success includes a clear, bold vision, along with investment in teams, empowerment of teachers, and effective communication to get stakeholder buy-in.

Let’s take a deeper dive on each of these key trends.

Student-Centered Focus

The EdTech trends for 2017 are all about the student, and this trend should continue into 2018. EdTech has changed in that new technology has created online tools that allow students to transform their own learning. Watch for additional tools and platforms that extend and emphasize Personalized Learning. Personalized Learning tailors instruction to each student’s specific needs and learning preferences through face-to-face teaching, technology-assisted instruction, and collaboration.

Personalized learning coupled with a continuing focus on project-, problem-, and challenge-based learning will also foster student-centered learning and student empowerment. We will likely see continued expansion in the implementation of online tools to facilitate the student’s ability to

  • interact with other students both locally and globally,
  • work in collaborative groups, and
  • develop solutions to real-world problems.

Students will no longer be just consumers of knowledge. They will now have the tools to actually create knowledge as they direct their own learning to address real-life applications.

Thoughtful Integration by Teachers

Student-centered learning can only happen if teachers are thoughtfully integrating technology into their teaching and curriculum. In 2017, we saw a growing awareness of the importance of ongoing professional development for teachers around teaching with technology and the need for coaches to help teachers with technology integration. This was an outcome of the wildly popular edchat and edcamp movements that use social media to bring together educators from around the globe to share ideas on a topic of interest. In 2018, look for new professional learning models, along with a focus on the role and responsibilities of the instructional technology coach coming to the forefront. We also expect to see:

  • more sites that provide easy access to EdTech best practices and methods for disseminating transformative ideas, and
  • more organizations that provide this type of professional development.

Technology that is likely to have the greatest impact on teaching this year is virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). A 2016 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey report shows that even though almost 80% of teachers have access to virtual reality devices, only about 6.9% of teachers are using them. This is despite the fact that 93% of teachers from the same survey said their students would be excited to use virtual reality.

2018 could be the year for things to change. We should see a rise in the number of teachers taking a blended learning approach as they incorporate VR and AR into their traditional lesson plans. At ISTE 2017, teachers and education leaders saw how these platforms can transport students to places they could not otherwise experience, such as the Roman Colosseum or inside a water molecule. The key will be to ensure that teachers continue to first consider what their learning goals are for students, and then to design a learning experience that uses the unique capabilities of these tools to serve that goal, as laid out in the ISTE Standards.

VR in education in 2017- educational technology trends

Source: Infographic created by Virtual Reality Brief.

With students increasingly using technology in all aspects of their lives, teachers now have the added responsibility of preparing students to live, learn, and work in an interconnected digital world. Teaching students to be good Digital Citizens who “act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical,” as stated in the ISTE Student Standards, will be more important this year than ever. The use of educational technology also requires that students have a new literacy standard—a digital literacy standard that is based on coding. Coding could become the handwriting or typing of the future as students engage in activities in which it is required. It will also be an essential component for the student as a knowledge creator.

Informed Decision-Making by Leadership

A key factor in how effectively teachers can transform student learning through technology is the decisions being made by school leadership. As superintendents lead a school through a digital transformation, they must be able to articulate a clear, bold vision, invest in teams, empower teacher leadership, and effectively communicate to get stakeholder buy-in. In 2018, we will see more resources being devoted to helping school leadership through this transition and dealing with such issues as digital equity and the homework gap.

Decisions made at the state level about assessment will also impact what is happening in the classroom and the EdTech that is being used. The past year saw states ramping up for a new educational reality under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which gives far greater leeway and oversight to states. In 2018 states will get their ESSA plans off the ground and make important tactical decisions. States’ approaches to assessment will prove to be key harbingers of instructional changes to come. Watch for increased focus on performance assessment throughout K–12 and for better proxies for postsecondary preparation and readiness at the high school level. The assessment instruments that states ultimately choose will offer clues as to what emerging definitions of 21st-century “success” will look like. These decisions will also have major implications for content providers and publishers in the short term.

Further Reading

Messy, Hectic, and Exciting: A Very Ambitious Statewide Personalized Learning Experiment

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