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Education Today News Report

Vol 1 Technology in Education Fall 2013

Breakthrough Technology to reach the schools

he NMC Horizon Report for 2013 K-12 Education reports six areas that are expected to see growth in classrooms throughout the next 5 years. The areas of growth are classified into three time frames, ranging from the present and up to a year from now, to two and three year, and eventually to four and five years down the road. The first time frame, or the near-term horizon, is expected to see growth is within 12 months from the present. In this term mobile learning, which includes tablets and smartphones, is expected to take off, accompanied by

cloud computing. The mid-term horizon, or second adoption phase is expected to occur in 2-3 years from now and will include the mainstreaming of learning analytics and open content. Further down the road on the far term horizon, the report suggests that in 4-5 years from now we will see the implementation of 3D printing as well as virtual and remote laboratories. This might be the first you have heard of these new technological advancements, so keep reading to find out more on what they are and how they will change the world of education as we know it.

Okay But what are they?

You might have read that and realized that some of these terms are completely foreign to you, so let us provide you with a quick overview of how each innovation will work and what it is capable of. Perhaps the most familiar of the advancements is that of mobile learning, the explosion of mobile devices has made it so that many students now own their own device with their various applications have an endless supply of uses. Cloud computing, which has also already hit the market, allows for improved data storage with easier access and provides an inlet for collaboration efforts. Learning analytics is a field of study that provides large sets of student related information, with the goal of improving both the curriculum and the resources available to students. Expected to reach popularity around the same time as learning analytics is the notion of open content, which is a change within schools allowing their resources and course content to be open for free view rather than having restricted access to information. 3D printing has been available for a few years now but hasnt taken off in a big way quite yet, as one might guess, produces a change from 2 dimensional printing to 3D, making it easier to build prototypes and models for classroom use. Finally, virtual and remote laboratories take

advantage of virtual interfaces and simulations and reduce the need for actual lab equipment by allowing student to interact virtually with scientific experiments.

An in-depth look
Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing began hitting the mainstream in the workforce a few years ago and has begun now to also work its way in the education realm as a reliable and secure way to collaborate and store data, in fact the report claims that some 42% of K-12 schools have already begun implementation of cloud computing at some level. The relatively new technology provides many options for teachers, including video based teaching and long distance learning. Virtual laboratories, which are also listed on the far term horizon of the report, are based in and available because of the cloud. Additionally, the cloud presents the option of informal learning in a new way, it opens a door to inexpensive convenient learning to essentially anyone with access to the internet. For those who may not have access to formal learning, adults wanting to brush up on few things without taking a class, or students who are seeking supplemental teachings, cloud computing is an excellent option.

Mobile learning
The outbreak of smartphones and other mobile devices in recent years is no secret or surprise to anyone, many people have become accustomed to being continually connected to the internet, and as the report puts it, Tablets, smartphones, and mobile apps have become too capable, too ubiquitous, and too useful to ignore. As mobile devices have spread like wildfire throughout the consumer market, so too has the number of apps and the variety of uses for such devices. An estimated 10 apps per human in the world will be downloaded in this year alone. Of these 13 billion apps, those with educational intent are the second largest category downloaded, 80% of which are marketed toward young children. Mobile devices also provide a medium for ebooks and other educational content such as videos and reference materials. These portable devices also have the ability to take the burden of providing computers off of the schools by allowing students to bring their own devices into the classroom.

Learning Analytics
The report suggests that learning analytics can be useful by taking the collected data and using it to adapt online instruction to each individual student in real time, similar to how the internet adapts specific advertisement to specific people. This would allow education to become much more individualized rather than its current one-size-fits-all approach. These analytics also provide enough information about behavior patterns to allow educators to determine when a student is having trouble earlier to improve the help that they can give the student. They estimate that these ideas will be mainstream within the next two to three years.

Open Content
More than a new piece of technology, open content can be seen as a new way of collaboration that began years ago and is finally becoming more prevalent. It is more and more schools and educators allowing their curricula and resources to be readily and freely available to the public. Because of this, doors are opening to students to learn things that before that would not have had access to or money to pay for.

3D Printing
Set on the far term horizon of 4 to 5 years, 3D printing brings many possibilities into the classroom. As the report puts it, Schools are using 3D printers to illuminate the design process, build rapid prototypes, and create models that demonstrate concepts in curricula. This is something that will be extremely useful for teachers in demonstrating concepts to their students and allow more hands-on learning for the students.

Virtual and Remote Laboratories

These computer and cloud based laboratories have benefits, according to the report, that exceed those even of a hands-on lab. Students in these virtual labs are able to be repeated numerous times for better accuracy and better understanding on the part of the student. They are more efficient and allow the student to work at any time of the day. These labs also open the door for schools without fully equipped labs to still give the experience of lab work to their students. Like 3D printing, this new technology is expected to become more widely used within the next 4 to 5 years.

Key Trends
The first key trend pointed out by the report is the shift toward online learning. Between the widespread use of mobile devices and internet, most students are familiar with the workings of the online environment from use of it outside the realm of education, so it

makes sense to bring this into the classroom as well, to give students the best possible education by allowing them to combine the best of virtual and physical campuses. The social media trend is one that has linked together many people. One estimate in the report guesses that approximately one-third of the entire population of the world is connected through social media. It is now becoming common for teacher to link students together through some form of social media to allow for collaboration. The openness trend is one that we have seen as the availability of information grows rapidly, the transparency of data and the sharing of educational materials are contributing largely to this movement. The BYOD trend is the new tendency for students to bring their own devices into the classroom for use and is helpful to schools by removing the financial burden of providing this technology or each student.

New Technology Brings New Challenges

s with any new technology, these advancements bring their own set of challenges as well, which the report addresses. One major problem is that many teachers are expected to implement these new programs in their classrooms, often without being given the skills set to know themselves all of the proper uses of the technology. Continued professional development is key to ensuring that teachers know what they are doing in order to take advantage of the technology in the best way possible. Another challenge is the resistance to change. If educators are too comfortable with the way they have always done things, they may choose to

not implement new technology, seeing it as someone elses responsibility to introduce the new concepts and thereby inadvertently keep this knowledge from their students as well. These new models of schooling, virtual schooling for example, also make it more difficult for traditional school to retain their success in comparison to online learning, it brings a form of competition between the schools, forcing traditional school to step up their game to produce the same level of education as what is offered online. Some schools are doing this by incorporating online learning into the classroom.

Technology in Colleges
A similar report, Technology Outlook > Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges 2013-2018, covers the technological advancements expected to be seen in community, technical and

junior colleges over the next few years in the same manner of horizons. Some of the topics included in this report are very similar, if not identical to the ones mentioned in the previous report that we studied so I will focus only on the differing advancements. On the near term horizon are both BYOD, or the practice of Bring Your Own Device and the flipped classroom. The BYOD movement is driven largely by the financial inability of schools to provide the needed technology for every student. This trend can also cultivate learning outside of the classroom because it keeps projects on one device that the student has constant access to. The flipped classroom is an approach in which students take on much of the responsibility for their learning and the teacher acts as a guide. The flipped classroom supports a more diverse set of learning resources can support self-directed learning and thereby allows class time to be spent with more hands on activities while learning can be done outside of class. Within 2 to 3 years badges, game and gamification, and next generation LMS are all expected to grow in a large way. Badges provide an incentive for the student to learn by acknowledging and rewarding them with different badges upon completion, such as might be seen in the girl or boy scouts. Games and gamification represents the idea that traditional concepts can be learned in a more interactive and engaging way. The games allow students to retry different problem and attempt more creative solutions. Next generation LMS (Learning Management Systems) Are online environments where teachers and students can share documents, discussions, and assignments. One advantage is their ability to take learning that would span multiple resources and combine it into one location. On the far term horizon of 4 to 5 years are the internet of things, natural user interfaces, and virtual assistants. The internet of thins refers to the ability to relay all sorts of things through the internet, including information relayed by sensors and data chips, such as temperature, pressure, or purchases. This technology can be particularly useful in education by allowing scientists to be particularly aware of the environment at any moment. Natural user interfaces is the technology that allows a computer to read bodily movements. When implemented for educational use it can allow a computer to determine when a student is struggling with a concept. Similarly, Virtual assistants, while only in the beginning stages, will use the natural interface technology to act as a guide for deaf, blind or learning disabled students.