Recent trends in educational technology developments are varied. Ranging from transformation to 1:1 device schools, to integration of emerging technologies into teaching and learning.
Digital conversion is important in the discussion of technology developments (Project Tomorrow, 2013). It can occur incrementally via individual classes and teachers or a whole school project. In the incremental adoption, the Teacher-Librarian assists teachers in building their skills to create ‘individualised digital conversions’ (Project Tomorrow, 2013, p.1). Whole school digital conversion transforms teaching and learning, and communication with the community (Project Tomorrow, 2013, p.1).
Teacher access to, and experience with, emerging technologies is likely to boost their interest and skills in digital learning and the scope of tools for classroom integration (Project Tomorrow, 2013). According to From chalkboards to tablets: The digital conversion of the K-12 classroom, teachers want to develop skills in emerging technologies to facilitate differentiation and personalisation of learning opportunities (Project Tomorrow, 2013, p.16). We know that students adopt and adapt technologies daily, (Project Tomorrow, 2013, p.1). Teachers need to continue integrating these technologies to support deeper learning approaches (Freeman, Adams Becker, Cummins, Davis, & Hall Giesinger, 2017, p.14).
The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K-12 edition refers to ‘Advancing Cultures of Innovation’ (Freeman et al., 2017, p.12) and ‘Deeper Learning Approaches’ (2017, p.14) as a requirement for driving technology adoption in the long term. This includes focusing on teaching strategies, integrating prior learning, using tools and apps to support deeper learning, and enhancing Project Based Learning with technology to create a flipped classroom environment (Project Tomorrow, 2013, p.14, 16).
Specific emerging technological trends and their importance in education include Maker Spaces, Robotics, Virtual Reality and the Internet of Things. The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K-12 edition (Freeman et al., 2017) refers to these trends varying from short term to long term implementation.
Maker Spaces emphasize hands on and deep learning through technological tools (Freeman et al., 2017, p.40), providing opportunities to focus on higher order thinking, problem solving, and experimentation. They are often seen in an environment which nurtures creativity and collaboration and promotes individual and peer-peer learning (Freeman et al., 2017, p.41).
Robotics promotes critical and computational thinking, and coding. These skills aid students to develop resilience, collaboration and assessment of risks (Freeman et al., 2017, p.42). Robotics can promote engagement through a program called ‘TeachAssist’ which can provide interactive content, and track student progress (Freeman et al., 2017, p.42).
Virtual Reality provides computer generated environments to simulate the presence of physical items and provide realistic sensory experiences. They provide authentic learning experiences beyond STEM classes; increasing engagement and enabling experiential learning, or experiencing abstract concepts (Freeman et al., 2017, p.46-47).
Internet of Things refers to objects which have computing power and ability to transmit information over networks (Freeman et al., 2017, p.50). Within a school environment there are privacy and security considerations to be addressed, particularly if implementing Smart student ID cards (Freeman et al., 2017, p.50). These could track movements and interactions of students.
Technology will continue to change. Over 2009-2017 the Horizon K-12 Reports identify changes in the long-, middle- and short-term trends. Understanding technological developments is necessary to maintain engagement and development of 21st Century classroom skills. Teacher understanding of apps and tools to assist with student centred deep learning opportunities is also integral.
Project Tomorrow. (2013). From chalkboards to tablets: The digital conversion of the K-12 classroom. Retrieved from https://tomorrow.org/speakup/pdfs/SU12EducatorsandParents.pdf
Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., & Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K-12 edition. Retrieved from https://cdn.nmc.org/media/2017-nmc-cosn-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf