Student experiencing virtual reality

5 Ed-Tech Trends to Look for in 2017

When it comes to educational technology (ed-tech), there are always new sites, apps, and buzzwords. We made it easy for you to start the new year off right with this innovative list of 5 ed-tech trends to look forward to in 2017.

1. Virtual Reality & Augmented Learning

One of the newest, most exciting, and readily available ed-tech additions for classrooms is the ability to go on virtual field trips through virtual reality and augmented learning. Students are able to visit the pyramids, explore Mars, and dive into the ocean without ever leaving the classroom.

From simple cell phone add-ons, such as Google cardboard, to a $599 Oculus Rift headset, educators have many options available to them.

After purchasing a VR viewer, there are numerous free apps that place students in virtual reality worlds. Google Expeditions has over 200 field trips available, each with discussion questions and talking points for teachers. Huff Post’s RYOT not only allows students to watch a news story unfold, but places them right in the middle of it.

With the recent craze of Pokemon GO, virtual reality and augmented learning have the potential to not only turn learning into a meaningful experience, but a fun one as well.

Want to learn more? Check out Jason St. Amand’s post, The Promise of VR and Reality of Education: A Complete Educator’s Guide to VR.

2. Coding, Programming, & Robotics

With the rise of STEM education in the past few years, coding, programming, and robotics have been embedded into school curriculums all across the world. Thanks to numerous free websites and apps, many courses and games are easily accessible to students and will continue to thrive in 2017.

Some of our favorite coding sites? Code.org and Tynker both have games for students of all ages. Even preschoolers can participate in many of the activities. Code Combat teaches students Python and JavaScript basics. Looking for a simple way to teach your students HTML, CSS, and Javascript? Have your students create a simple webpage on General Assembly’s Dash.

3. Civic Online Reasoning

A recent study by the Stanford History Education Group “shows a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the internet.” In addition, the fake news epidemic of 2016 has shown that civic online reasoning should be an addition to every school’s curriculum. This involves teaching students how to find accurate, valid, and credible sources. School librarians, computer, and classroom teachers should all work together to promote civic online reasoning and information literacy in schools.

Looking for ed-tech resources to help teach your students to be information literate? The News Literacy Project’s program, Checkology, has quite a few lessons that help students distinguish fact from fiction. In addition, InCtrl has various digital citizenship lessons that include activities on how to evaluate online sources.

4. Wearable Technologies and the Internet of Things

Sooner or later, we’re going to be able to communicate with all types of devices; ones that we wear and everyday objects around us. The Internet of Things will, “connect devices, provide them with sensing capabilities, communication capabilities, and even data” (Brandt).

How will it transform education? Zebra Technologies predicts that “projectors and lab equipment can be equipped with radio frequency identification readers so that their whereabouts are visible at all times.”

Not only will the Internet of Things protect equipment, but it can also be used for safety reasons. “A GPS-enabled bus system means that bus routes can be tracked, ID cards and wristbands allow educational organizations to store the last-known location of a student or visitor, and cashless payments at the school cafeteria or campus store creates a more streamlined transaction and has the potential to discourage bullying and theft.”

Home appliance company, Bosch, tested a product at the Bundesgymnasium Dornbirn grammar school in Austria with great results. Bosch took “an image of Einstein and turned him into a visual representation of climate. When the temperature or air changes, so does Einstein. The Einstein would notify both students and teachers about minor changes in the atmosphere; then, they could adjust their conditions to be more ideal for better focus” (Augur).

Wondering how many devices will be connected to the Internet? “Some experts forecast that 20 billion devices will be connected by 2020; others put the number closer to 40 or 50 billion; and some even foresee as many as 100+ billion connected devices by that time” (Asseo et al.)

5. Better Communication with Parents

One of the biggest factors to promote student success and achievement involves the ability for teachers and parents to communicate with each other and stay on top of student behavior and learning. There are quite a few ed-tech apps available for simple communication, like the text-messaging app, Remind 101. Class Dojo is a popular app used by teachers to track student behavior and provide updates to parents. For documenting student work and assignments, SeeSaw is popular with elementary and middle school students.

Many of these apps are wonderful at keeping parents informed and in the know, but most of them lack one important aspect. “While they are effective at replacing piles of paper flyers and email communications with real-time digital options, they don’t address the heart of the issue – building strong relationships between parents and teachers” (Lotkina).

ClassTag is a new app that takes parent communication one step further – it allows teachers to schedule meetings, ask for volunteers for events, and also send surveys to parents. Promoting face-to-face interaction and getting to know parents is something that many apps are missing. Expect more sites and apps that pull parents and caregivers into the classroom and also promote back and forth communication.

Asseo, Itai, et al. “The Internet of Things: Riding the Wave in Higher Education.” Educause Review, 27 Jun. 2016, er.educause.edu/articles/2016/6/the-internet-of-things-riding-the-wave-in-higher-education.

Augur, Hannah. “IoT in Education: The Internet of School Things.” Internet of Things Blog, IBM, 13 Dec. 2016, www.ibm.com/blogs/internet-of-things/iot-education/.

Brandt, Chris. “The Internet of Things and Its Impact on Education.” University Herald, 21 Sep. 2016, www.universityherald.com/articles/41190/20160921/internet-of-things-and-education.htm.

Lotkina, Vlada. “What Communication Apps Got Wrong About Parent Engagements.” Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12, 15 Sep. 2016. Education Week, Editorial Projects in Education, blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2016/09/what_communication_apps_got_wrong_about_parent_engagement.html.

Zebra Technologies. How the Internet of Things is Transforming Education. www.zatar.com/sites/default/files/content/resources/Zebra_Education-Profile.pdf.


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