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Tech Trends Heading Your Way

by Dr. Bruce Ellis

This year will be filled with a variety of technology trends that are gaining in popularity. And just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it has valuable implications on education. These trends, however, do provide cause to consider them and how they can enhance teaching and learning. While some may not hit your district this year, they definitely are building momentum in many schools across the nation. Below are our predictions for educational tech trends this year.

  1. CODING – Even if you don’t teach computer science, your students can greatly benefit from the logical thinking and problem solving that is reinforced through coding. Students as young as kindergarten are able to participate thanks to simple apps that start them on the basics. For more information on coding and how you can get started, visit code.org.
  2. BLENDED LEARNING – More and more teachers are looking to see how they can augment their face-to-face time in the classroom with an online platform that allows for learning beyond the walls. Popular terms for blended learning include flipped classroom or flipped learning. You can easily start by using Edmodo or Google Apps for Education.
  3. 3D PRINTING – It seems that everyone wants in on the craze of designing and printing your own object. And with prices falling to less than $350 for a small 3D printer, many teachers are starting to put one on their wish list. Besides having students design and print items that are related to content they are learning about, many are also printing manipulatives to use in their classroom.
  4. VIRTUAL REALITY – No longer is virtual reality confined to hard-core geeks. With Google Cardboard and Expeditions, virtual reality is becoming mainstream and using devices your students may already be bringing to school.
  5. MAKER SPACES – Promoting problem solving and critical thinking is what maker spaces are all about. They may be as simple as a closet with recycled objects or as fancy as a room that would compete with brand-name craft and electronic stores. Either way, teachers are finding out how they can engage their students in fun learning activities with a purpose. Here is a list of sites that include how to get started by creating your own maker space. Or check out our blog about setting one up.
  6. INTERNET OF THINGS – It doesn’t matter if it is a watch, a refrigerator, or your car. If it connects to the Internet, then it is part of the Internet of things. With more ways of being connected, teachers are realizing the growing need to reinforce good digital citizenship even in the early grades since their digital footprints may be started much sooner than they were with us.
  7. ROBOTICS – Once reserved for schools like MIT, USC, and Purdue, robotics has revived many students’ love of learning and given them a realization of 21st century skills that they are really good at. Schools may be introducing it at the high school through Tech Apps courses such as Robotics Programming and Design or even in afterschool clubs using LEGO Mindstorm EV3. TCEA even has statewide robotics competitions for students to demo their talents!
  8. DRONES – A popular novelty that has dropped significantly in price, many districts are now considering how these can be used for instructional purposes in specialized classes as well as considering future jobs that students might be interested in that involve designing, deploying, and managing drones. Learn more in this blog.
  9. WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY – It seems that many teachers (and students!) are getting smart watches that connect with their phone to keep them more in touch with their friends and their online social networks. A few are even starting to add smart rings to their accessories. You can read about a variety of smart rings to learn which might be a best fit for you.
  10. SMARTER, INTERACTIVE TOYS – Apps are evolving to include manipulatives that interact with the device to provide 21st century-style learning that goes beyond just learning the alphabet. Items such as the Osmo, CogniToys, and Ozobot are opening new learning avenues for students.

Which of these trends are happening at your school? Better yet, how are you preparing your students to compete with skills that prepare them for jobs that are just on the horizon? Let us know – we’d like to hear from you!

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