Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trends and Challenges on the Horizon

I always await the K-12 Horizon report each year to discover what technology trends schools need to be getting ready for in the near future.  While I'll be blogging more about this in the upcoming days, I decided to start with looking at the key trends and some of the challenges we will face in implementing them in schools.


  • Rethinking our role as educators:  information is everywhere and teachers are no longer the source of all learning.  Our roles are shifting so that our focus is more on making sense of the information and assessing its validity.  These days schools are not the only source of education.
  • BYOD/mobile technology:  the cost of technology is dropping and it is common for students to bring their own mobile device to school.  Schools are realizing that students can use their own devices both in and out of the classroom and this is freeing up the budgets that can be allocated in different ways.
  • Online and social learning is becoming more widespread:  the internet allows for learning and the exchange and creation of information.  Collaboration is becoming widespread and students are developing stronger digital skills.  Online learning also allows students to learn in a more individual way, at their own pace and style, from wherever they want.
  • 1:1 computing is spreading to a large number of countries and studies have shown the positive impact of this on achievement.  1:1 also complements project-based learning which also has a positive impact on engagement.
  • Any time, any place:  people expect to be able to access information and social networks in an efficient "just in time" manner.
  • Technology skills are vital for success:  technology skills help us to work, collaborate, communicate and succeed.   The new digital divide is a factor of education:  those students who have opportunities to learn the skills and those who don't.
  • Challenge-based learning and active learning are becoming more important:  tablets and smartphones allow students to connect the curriculum with real life and develop 21st century skills including leadership and creativity.
All the above trends I've seen coming for a few years now, but getting schools onboard with these trends is not always easy. This is because there are a number of challenges facing their adoption.

  • Current technology and practices: technology can support personalized learning through differentiation and customizing education to meet the needs of each student. New technologies can provide more learner choice, however there is a gap between the vision of personalized learning and the tools to implement it.  Schools are still fixed on one-size-fits-all methods that are ineffective in preparing students for today's world.
  • Digital media literacy is important in every discipline and profession: however formal training for supporting these thinking skills is limited.  This lack of training is being partly offset by professional development, however this is often focused on the tools, skills and standards as opposed to the thinking.
  • Budgets are being cut:  schools are dealing with growing numbers of students without an equal increase in resources and staffing.
  • The structure of schools prevents change: however learners can now access informal education, online education and home-based education which may put pressure on schools to adapt rather than conform to the status quo.
  • Schools need to embrace the blending of formal and informal learning: the movement should be away from lectures and tests.  The "flipped classroom" model has students learning at home and using class time for problem-solving - however getting buy-in from administration is necessary for this trend to grow.
  • Learning by real-life experiences is not occurring often enough:  this can affect student engagement.
  • Much learning takes place outside the classroom
  • 21st century technology doesn't fit readily into old buildings and old learning models.
  • There is an assessment gap: in particular with the use of digital media in formative assessment.  Many assessment tools don't assess 21st century skills. 
To read the NMC Horizon Project Short List click here.

Photo Credit:  Road Trip by Bernardo Borghetti, 2005 AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works 

1 comment:

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