School is back in full swing, and many districts are again turning to educational technology for solutions to help students recover learning lost to the summer slide and to help them regain ground lost due to COVID-19.
Over the past two years, educational technology, or EdTech, has leapt to the forefront of classroom and institutional planning. With the technology available to students now thanks to the CARES Act and ESSER funds, districts must continue to make the best use of EdTech and sustain it in budgeting.
Consider these trends that are expected to be prevalent, how education has changed with these emerging trends and what it means for educators and students in the future.
EdTech Trending Now
One of the most important continuing trends in EdTech is the integration of devices and software across all subjects and grade levels. As most school districts have now been able to provide devices to all students, it is important to continue to implement these technologies into their classrooms. While there is still a cost associated with training teachers and students on how to use new technologies, the overall cost is decreasing.
Another trend in educational technology is the increased use of cloud-based services. These services allow school districts to store data and applications off-site, which can save money on hardware and maintenance costs. Cloud-based services are also generally easier to use and manage than on-premises solutions.
Finally, many educational technology vendors are now offering subscription-based pricing models. This means that school districts only have to pay for the devices and software they actually use. This can save a lot of money compared to traditional licensing fees. For example, Skooli offers flexible, equitable on-demand tutoring at an affordable, per-student rate which grants students unlimited 24/7 access for an entire year (365 days).
Impact on Education
COVID-19 disrupted education in so many ways. However, schools are reaping some benefits. First is the equitable access to technology. As devices and internet became available to the majority of students, digital literacy also improved. Digital literacy is an important skill for students to have in the 21st century. With the proliferation of technology in all aspects of life, it is more important than ever for students to be able to use technology effectively.
The ongoing use of technology in the classroom will not only help improve learning but will also provide real-world skills that mean students are better prepared to be successful post graduation. From using computers for research or writing assignments to using apps and online tools for learning to using digital devices for presentations and collaboration, students have made great strides with the help of educational technology.
Classroom design and planning is also evolving to include ed tech in unique and beneficial ways.
- Collaboration Tools. School districts should consider implementing collaboration tools to help students work together more effectively. Collaboration tools can include things like online whiteboards, real-time editing and video conferencing. These tools can help students to communicate and collaborate with each other more effectively, whether they are working on a group project or just trying to understand a concept.
- Gamification. Gamification is another trend that school districts should consider. Gamification is the process of using game-like elements in non-game contexts. Gamification can help to motivate students and make learning more fun.
- Virtual Reality. Virtual reality is another educational technology trend that school districts should keep an eye on. Virtual reality can be used for things like field trips and simulations. For example, students could visit a virtual museum or take a virtual trip to the moon. Virtual reality can help to make learning more interactive and engaging.
Planning for the Future of Education Technology
Educational technology can live up to the initial promise of the World Wide Web — to put the world within reach no matter where you are. Mary Teren, a high school science teacher in Cobb County, Ga. who teaches oceanography and astronomy, believes VR can provide a means for her students to have some hands-on experience in courses where there typically isn’t much. As Teren said in a recent EdWeek article, “This would be a game-changer, giving kids a tactile sense of space or the depths of the sea.”
The EdWeek article goes on to explain that schools can use VR to teach about subjects such as robotics and medical arts. Teren, for one, believes experience with VR will provide useful training for students: “The technology is changing and we need to try as much as we can to keep up with it.”
Like VR, the metaverse offers a space where students can experience a virtual world that is constantly evolving. As Vriti Saraf, founder and CEO of k20 Educators, explains in EdTech, “the metaverse is ‘a virtual version of everything you can do in real life. It is interoperable, owned by no one, and allows a lot of different platforms to live within it.'”
Roblox, a popular game in the metaverse, has lesson plans for a broad spectrum of subjects and grade levels, making it possible to bring gamification into the classroom easily. It isn’t a matter of if gamification will enter the classroom; it is a matter of how districts will incorporate it.
No matter how online learning is incorporated, districts have a responsibility to make sure they make educational technology a priority in both application and budgeting. Not only is it important for student learning now; it is important for success in the future.