Saturday, April 28, 2012

What's on the Horizon in 2 to 3 Years?

A couple of days I posted about technology that is being adopted in schools in the coming 12 months.  Actually many of these, such as cloud computing and collaborative environments is already there.  But I was interested to read further in the K12 Horizon Report to find out what's coming up after that.

A Single Digital Identity - something that can use used whenever a student needs to log into a website or use a tool.  As we are using Google Apps for Education this is relatively easy for our students - often the Web2 tools we use, such as WeVideo, have a Log-In with Google button and the students can connect straight from their accounts.  Lots of sites allow you to log in with Facebook - though of course our students don't have that set up for them at school as they are too young.  The Horizon report points out a number of advantages of having a single digital identity, apart from just being able to easily connect to resources across multiple devices and websites.   The real advantage I think will be that it can personalize the curriculum through profiling learners' interests - information that has been gatherers based on their content consumption.

Game-Based Learning - there is a lot of interest in exploring the potential of game-based learning and the Horizon Report identifies several areas where these will be used in schools, for example developing students' team building skills, teaching cross-curricular content in engaging ways and simulations that allow students to try out different creative solutions to problems.

Learning Analytics - this is the interpretation of data used to assess students' academic progress in order to tailor education to individual students' needs and abilities.  It is suggested that when used effectively this can pick up the early signs that a student is experiencing difficulties, which allows a rapid response from schools and teachers to address these problems.

Personal Learning Environments - these are tools chosen by the learners, such as collections of apps on a tablet, that support their personal learning.  I've already seen a little of this as we have tried out iPads in our Learning Support department that have got apps that meet specific students' needs, such as using Dragon Dictate for students who have problems with writing.  The Horizon Report makes it clear that a PLE is not a technology as such, but an approach to individualizing learning that uses technology.  This matches entirely what I've been reading in Disrupting Class recently.  The idea of a PLE is that different learners will use different resources.  The report cautions that this "requires a shift in policy, as well as attitudes, towards technology for teaching and learning."

Although the report identifies these as being on the "middle horizon", I'm thinking that some of these will actually be a reality in my new school next year.  I know there is a R&D team investigating game-based learning, and with a BYOD policy coming in next year I expect to see a big push to PLEs as well.

Photo taken from the Sky Lounge in Zug

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