Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

What's Hot, What's Not for 2015: Our Panel of Experts Predicts What Trends, Devices and Software Will Define Ed Tech in the Coming Year

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

What's Hot, What's Not for 2015: Our Panel of Experts Predicts What Trends, Devices and Software Will Define Ed Tech in the Coming Year

Article excerpt

Every December, THE Journal convenes a panel of five ed tech leaders and asks them to gaze into the future. This year, we presented our virtual roundtable with 10 instructional technology topics, and they offered their prognostications about what will be HOT, LUKEWARM or LOSING STEAM in 2015. While all of our experts agreed that student data privacy will continue to be a major concern, there was lively debate in most other areas. This divergence of opinion centered on a question that districts around the country are asking: With such an abundance of technology options, how do educators pick the right solution and--most importantly--deploy it in a way that truly helps students learn?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Karen Billings: BYOD is hot given the prevalence of popular mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, student preference for using their devices, better access to the Internet at school and lower cost.

Wendy Drexler: Recent studies have shown that more than 50 percent of school-age students own a smartphone and/or a tablet, and that increase In personal access has lit a spark under this already popular movement in K-12 technology implementation. However, for BYOD to be successful, schools must plan carefully for implementation, considering how they will provide access to students who may not have a mobile device, and have proper policies in place.

Larry Johnson: The economics behind BYOD are driving interest, especially in more affluent districts where kids are more likely to have at least a smartphone, and likely a laptop as well. It is simply cheaper to fund the have-nots than to try to support everyone. IT departments are getting more comfortable dealing with a range of devices, especially if the key use is the network.

Using Social Media as a Tool for Teaching and Learning

Drexler: While there is great potential for integrating social media into learning and teaching, there is still a lot to be done in terms of offering teachers professional learning opportunities that support its use, as well as ensuring that schools have appropriate policies in place for the use of social media with students. A 2014 survey from the University of Phoenix College of Education found that 47 percent of K-12 teachers said participation in social media platforms could help enhance their students education. Four out of five said they use social media personally, but a large majority (80 percent) said they're concerned about separating their personal and professional lives and worry that they haven't been properly trained to use social media in a professional setting.

Thomas C. Murray: The movement of Connected Educators--those educators that connect online with others around the world--will continue to gain steam in 2015. Each day, educators use Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and other tools to connect and learn from others with similar interests, curriculum, location, etc. This professional learning strategy will continue to extrapolate into the classroom, as teachers model this learning for students, while empowering their students to connect with the world through blogging, social media and collaborating with others. No longer are students simply posting their work on the refrigerator for their parents to see. Today's students have a global audience.

Billings: I give social media a lukewarm rating given the issues around Internet safety and social interactions, including picture-sharing.

Christopher Harris: As a concept, I love it. It just doesn't work when we try and force teaching and learning into commercial products. Facebook is great for biography projects, except that impersonating someone is a violation of the terms of service, and there is no way to infuse real instructional objectives and assess merit. What is hot are custom-designed solutions for classrooms in this space.

Digital Badges

Billings: District administrators have not caught up to the advantages digital badges offer, nor have they developed the course policies to incorporate them. …

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