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EdTech 2018: the year ahead

Educators globally are facing increasing pressure to stay abreast of the latest developments in their industry. EdTech is nothing new, but it’s ever-changing. Teachers need to be aware of developments in both hardware and software to ensure applications are utilised to their full potential and student engagement is maximised.

As we move into 2018 we expect to see a shift in the way we look at education technology. So far, we’ve seen a multitude of small-scale digital breakthroughs with the introduction of digital devices to classrooms, serving one or few subject areas. This year will be the year that school districts implement a holistic strategy for EdTech. Instead of a classroom tool, EdTech will be a strategic asset, not only for educators but for admin and non-IT leaders across the board.

We’ve identified just a few key trends we think will dominate the EdTech landscape in 2018:

Let’s get loud

Library learning

Is this the year we see the end of the quiet library?

Even outside of school environments libraries have changed significantly and in many cases, unfortunately, they’ve ceased to exist. The public libraries surviving are those that constantly reinvent themselves, introducing new(er) technology such as audio books, digital devices, community spaces and meeting rooms alongside a wealth of other services that make materials more accessible to a wider audience.

Schools should take note. While academic libraries are at less risk of becoming extinct, they are at risk of becoming irrelevant. Almost all the 485-school staff who responded to a survey regarding academic libraries said their school still had a library. But 22% said their library had suffered a substantial cut in funding since 2010 and 21% said their budget is insufficient to encourage pupils to engage with the library long term.

Devices shouldn’t be confined to just the classroom. A synergy between traditional education platforms and digital ones will be the foundation of true digital transformation. Libraries should host community spaces where students can work collaboratively and creatively. Through digital devices, personal learning networks can be developed to maintain collaboration outside of school. Twitter and Facebook, for example, can serve as excellent platforms for personal learning networks, particularly where closed community groups are required.

Data-driven support

Data driven support

There’s been a lot of research surrounding how successful EdTech has been in improving academic engagement and achievement. The interactive nature of digital devices allows students to explore concepts from different angles in a variety of formats – tailored to their own understanding.

There is, however, a wider spectrum than just academic achievement when it comes to EdTech. Through data augmentation social learning, health and stakeholder engagement can also be monitored to quickly identify where individual students may need immediate support. Used in conjunction with Early Warning Systems (EWS), digital devices will prove immensely valuable in improving school environments for all students. Data sets for individual students will enable teachers to develop tailored frameworks to further increase student engagement and ensure long-term support is offered where required.

The code for success

Code to success

Students will become much more fluent in coding, which means coding needs to become a part of our curriculum. As the STEM industry continues to thrive and demand for a skilled workforce increases, schools will focus on the importance of programming, computer science and coding.

There will be stumbling blocks due to a skills-gap among teachers who have not experienced coding or programming as part of their previous schooling. These obstacles will need to be addressed to deliver learning in formats that students are already engaged with; on tablets, smart phones and even video game consoles. Encouraging students to feel as though they are playing whilst learning will reap lasting engagement and a deeper contextual understanding.

Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship

With power, comes responsibility. Students will have access to a vast network of information. The increase in Bring Your Own Device initiatives has made having control over content more difficult. Students will need to become digitally savvy to help protect themselves whilst online. The education industry invests heavily to empower young people with the skills they need to form lucrative careers. In this new landscape, their digital identity can have a long-lasting effect on factors such as employability. Not only should there be a strong focus on cyber-crime, fraud, sensitive material, cyber bullying etc. we also need to raise awareness around the lasting damage of poor decisions online.

Teaching the true impact of our digital footprint at an early age, while the footprint remains light, will solve a plethora of problems in the future. From this point onward, all students will be digital natives. It is therefore impossible to ignore responsibility as educators when it comes to digital citizenship. Not only can students face problems with employment due to their actions online, but serious legal issues surrounding sensitive content, illegal downloading and plagiarism should be emphasised early on.

These are just a few of the many trends and changes we expect to see in the EdTech arena this year, we’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences.

If you’re implementing digital devices in your classroom, download our FREE eBook guide here.

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