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2016 Ed Tech Trends Part 2

In their article, What’s Hot, What’s Not in 2016, THE Journal asked a panel of ed tech experts to rate technology tools to indicate their importance in education contexts this year. Metiri Group decided to chime in. We published Part 1 of our list last week, today is the second and final chapter of our list.

Learning management systems—Long a standard in educational contexts, particularly in higher education, stakeholders are starting to expect more from their LMS. We believe in 2016 that systems that have the capability and flexibility to be learning environments or learning platforms, rather than just repositories for PDF versions of the teacher’s transparencies, will be in demand.

Flipped learning— Successful flipped learning requires students to have access to digital resources outside of the school day. Through initiatives like Future Ready, districts and states are focusing on providing equitable access to devices 24/7 for students and teachers. We believe this movement will increase the feasibility of using flipped learning and, therefore, its use by teachers.

Blended learning—In this case, Metiri agrees with the panelists that blended learning opportunities will continue to expand and grow in 2016. Blended learning is seen as a key tool in personalizing instruction, allowing for teachers to easily assess students and provide resources targeted to their learning needs.

Student data privacy concerns—With questions arising recently about the data collected by vendors who provide “free” resources to schools, educators need to up our game in terms of understanding the trade-offs of these types of agreements with vendors, appreciating the value that all stakeholders place on these data, and understanding how our data are and can be used by various vendors and agencies. Balancing the benefits of using data to inform instruction with the rights of those who provide it will continue to present a challenge to educators.

Apps for learning—We see apps as holding steady this year. Teachers who have found apps that enhance teaching and learning in their content and with their students will continue to use and adapt them. Teachers who have struggled to find apps that enhance their curriculum will likely continue to use other resources. Without a substantial investment in creating apps specifically for education (with the input of educators), the rather disorganized current collection of apps is not likely to gain new followers.

Games for learning—We believe that the emphasis on games for learning will continue to grow. Since the days of Oregon Trail and Carmen Sandiego, both teachers and students have appreciated the role that these types of simulations can have in learning. We also remember, however, multiple times where a student tells the teacher they “finished” the game, because they got to the end, without anyone really knowing what (or if) the student learned anything. We feel that the emphasis on the pedagogy of using games in classrooms is increasing, but too many games are still being used in learning contexts without clear learning objectives and defined outcomes.

Hopes and dreams—While the panelists each picked devices they believed would be hot, Metiri would like to suggest two trends that we hope will gain steam in 2016. First, we hope to see more pilot testing of instructional technology tools and increased research to test their efficacy in real-world settings. Second, inspired by our work with the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities, we hope to see an increased focus on using technology to meet the individual needs of all learners. Increasing awareness of the needs of students with disabilities, as well as the adaptive tools that are available, can literally be a game-changer for many students who otherwise struggle in traditional learning environments.

Metiri Group wishes everyone a happy 2016!