It’s sometimes hard to believe we were ever truly productive without mobile tablets. Even though tablets only rose to popularity three years ago, they have introduced a completely new way of handling everyday tasks. Their size and shape have proven to be the perfect balance, giving us more immersive functionality than previously possible on small smartphone screens, without succumbing to the heft of a full-sized laptop. And because of their extreme portability and embedded wireless access, our productivity and connectedness with others isn’t limited by our location.
This type of tablet-centric revolution is happening in many, if not most, industry segments. For example, photography has not only turned digital as a result of our widespread evolution from film, but now it has now turned mobile as well, as real-time editing can occur virtually anywhere. In a recent New York Times article, one photographer says his new “darkroom” is now his tablet.
The evolution of education
Education is certainly no exception to the impact of technology. Here, we have seen tremendous advancements in how students interact with educators and with each other. In conversations with dozens of school IT leaders and administrators, everyone is excited and recognizes that technology has the power to transform education and positively shape how students view the learning process. And in 2013, we can expect students to be increasingly engaged and motivated, as teachers and administrators embrace technology like never before.
Here are my predictions for top education technology trends this year:
1. Fun and learning will not be mutually exclusive. Game-based learning will play a major role in helping students master difficult subjects.
A non-profit organization in Los Angeles is already tackling the demand for game-based learning initiatives. GameDesk and AT&T recently announced the creation of a learning laboratory to help designers, researchers, and educators come together to create a new model for learning. GameDesk’s MathMaker game demonstrated great results in helping increase math scores – on average, students’ scores improved by 22% during the course of the program.
2. Students will continue to use mobile technology to personalize their digital learning environments.
They will combine multiple tools and resources to address their own needs.
Today’s mobile devices make learning so much easier, by providing immediate access to a host of electronic learning resources and data. Students can access and save information, collaborate and participate in discussions with fellow students, and gather additional resources to help them focus on the subjects they may individually need to master.
Mobile technology and applications will continue to evolve in 2013, and I expect more students (and teachers) will embrace the idea of using those tools to assemble their own personalized digital learning (and teaching) environments.
3. Various flipped learning models, from flipped lessons to fully flipped classrooms, will continue to gain momentum and will strengthen the case for ubiquitous connectivity.
High-resolution tablets and smartphones, combined with higher-speed wireless networks, will make that more appealing. As a result, students will have more opportunities to use and share videos, images and other multimedia learning materials:
- The Project Tomorrow Speak Up 2011 survey shows that 50 percent of high school students (and 40 percent of middle school students) use a smartphone or tablet. Of course those percentages may vary depending on the particular school, but I expect more students will have a smartphone or tablet in 2013.
- Leading-edge devices from manufacturers like Lenovo and Samsung make it exciting for students to watch learning videos and share multimedia content. Schools with Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) programs can really benefit from advanced devices like this, which students might bring from home.
4. Cloud-based collaborative technology will create interactive learning experiences for one-to-many teaching and learning.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) will inevitably continue to garner attention within the industry and from the public as more recognize the impact of these free online learning opportunities. Who doesn’t like the idea of learning from an Ivy League professor at little or no cost, right?
This year, MOOCs will create a more interactive learning experience for students by using cloud-based collaborative technology. Live white board collaboration and video conferencing among students, combined with real-time feedback functionalities for instructors, will take MOOCs to the next level. Most importantly, this type of cloud-based technology is reliable, secure, and cost-effective for organizations seeking to monetize this learning model.
Extending the influence of education
Technology touches each of these trends at various points, all in an attempt to extend the influence and efficacy of education. If the past couple of years are any indication, mobile technology will revolutionize education far beyond what we’ve seen to date. Mobility has the power to excite students and educators alike, and motivate them to feel more passionate about learning.
Beyond 2013, we’ll see just how much mobile technology continues to influence students’ school experience. This is very exciting, and I look forward to witnessing this next wave of revolutions.