4 Fascinating Trends in Education Technology
There is a divide between teachers who embrace the future of education technology and teachers who fear it. This is because the role of technology in the classroom is often dramatized. Whether it’s the irrational fear of an AI takeover, as if teachers will be replaced by robots, or the panic about the role of cyber-bullying in the classroom, people generally don’t understand the positive role that technology can have on education.
Education expert Kelly Walsh agrees that most of the fears are overblown. Walsh is the Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester in White Plains, and we asked him to share his thoughts on the relationship between teaching and technology.
“Technology has made collaboration possible in ways far beyond our imaginations in the 20th century, and done so in ways that are often highly affordable.“
Right now, teachers are taking advantage of different digital tools. For example, Walsh singles out collaboration tools that allow users to create and edit documents, worksheets and presentations. These “powerful free tools,” he believes, can revolutionize education.
In his article “20 Fun Free Tolls for Interactive Classroom Collaboration,” Walsh calls attention to a number of free collaboration tools, from video tools to interactive online whiteboards, to prove his point. The future of the teacher-student relationship is collaborative, and digital tools will help create an interactive classroom space.
“The widespread availability of digital technologies has enabled teachers to begin to move learning content outside of the classroom and deliver it in a format that allows for easy review, which in turn has freed up time in the classroom for more active and more individualized learning.“
Thanks to digital technology, teachers can upload learning materials to the Cloud, which can be accessed by students anytime, anywhere. Walsh sees this as a huge advantage, as teachers can use valuable class time to create meaningful face-to-face encounters with students. This concept of “individualized” or “personalized” learning allows teachers to converse directly with students. Gone are the same boring lectures, repeated ad nauseam to a sea of tuned out students!
This is how technology impacts the classroom today, but what are some future trends? Walsh focuses on four fascinating trends that should excite students and teachers alike.
4 Ed Tech Trends:
1. Video in the Classroom
“I think we will see teachers become increasingly comfortable with using video as part of the process for interacting with students.”
Although it’s true that digital technology allows teachers to show more video content in class, like Ted Talks, it also allows teachers to create their own videos. As the classroom becomes more digital, Walsh believes that teachers will use video to communicate with students.
What are the benefits of this? For a start, if teachers want to send a message to students about class, they can record a video that can be saved and accessed at a later date. It’s easy for students to forget about a teacher’s important reminder, especially if it is made in passing at the end of class. However, if this reminder is shared with students in video form, they’ll be more likely to remember.
Perhaps more importantly, video will be useful to educators in what Walsh calls the “online and hybrid teaching space.” As most of us know, face-to-face communication is essential in the classroom. Teachers may want to use tools like Skype or Movenote to engage with students. According to Walsh, this form of student engagement is more personal and human than text-based interaction alone.
2. Virtual and Augmented Reality Tools
“We’re seeing a lot of exciting potential these days as augmented and virtual reality tools and applications mature.“
Although it seems like it would be straight out of a science fiction movie, Walsh sees virtual and augmented reality playing a major role in education.
There are a plethora of augmented reality apps being developed on a daily basis. Walsh thinks that teachers can use these apps and other augmented reality tools to enhance the learning experience for students.
Walsh acknowledges that virtual reality has moved from “its infancy to more of an adolescent phase,” but he sees great potential for “immersive learning experiences.” He cites the Samsung Gear VR and the Oculus Rift as examples.
3. Growth of the Flipped Classroom Movement
“As a big fan of the flipped classroom and the possibilities it offers, I am delighted to see this grassroots movement continue to evolve.”
Let us not forget: One of the reasons why technology has been integrated into the classroom at all is what Walsh describes as the “grassroots movement” to disrupt traditional education.
The traditional classroom, with its emphasis on lectures and rote memorization, didn’t take into account the experiences of the students. It was all about discipline and punish.
The flipped classroom, by contrast, helps students take control over the learning process. Technology can play an essential role in the flipped classroom, as it allows students and teachers to collaborate in a productive and interactive environment.
4. Competency Based Education (CBE)
“Shouldn’t student progress be judged based on achieving desired learning outcomes, as opposed to just passing tests? Isn’t that really the goal of education, to teach things, not test things?”
Perhaps most importantly, digital technology has changed how teachers assess students. Rather than just focus on test scores, which has historically been the metric, teachers can use digital tools to track student progress. Walsh contends that teachers should evaluate a student’s mastery of a subject, not whether or not that student can pass a state-wide exam.
Competency Based Education doesn’t necessarily require technology, but Walsh refers to CBE “pioneers” like Western Governors University as a way technology and CBE can successfully come together.
When we think about the ways technology can impact the future of education, it’s truly amazing to see how far we’ve come, and how much further we can go.
About Kelly Walsh:
Kelly Walsh is the Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY, a small private, for-profit institution with a proud 100 year history. He has had the privilege of teaching an introductory level Emerging Information Technology course there several times a year. His site EmergingEdTech.com, which examines the relationship between teaching and technology across the spectrum of K-16+, has grown to average over 80,000 unique visitors per month. As part of his work with EmergingEdTech and a sister site at FlippedClassroomWorkshop.com, he has been running a 4 week online flipped classroom workshop since 2012 and helped hundreds of educators get up and running with the technique in their classrooms.