8 Ed-Tech Predictions for 2014, Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part post on Ed-Tech predictions for 2014. The first part is found here.

I called up Dr. Jeff Borden, Vice President of Instruction & Academic Strategy and Director for the Center for Online Learning at Pearson to talk about what he’s seeing on the horizon for 2014.

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5) Tablets: More schools will adopt these devices, says Borden (and we’ll see more schoolwide adoption vs. “bring your own device” solutions, because they are so much harder to control). He sees the market bifurcating, with Apple iPads remaining the “premium” choice and Androids becoming the mass-market “freemium” model.

iPads currently have 94% of the educational tablet market, and their popularity will continue at the high end, because the tablets are so up to date and the platform’s so easy to use, says Borden.

“They get to market so much faster, and iTunes is so much easier to deal with in terms of the apps marketplace,” he says.

At the same time, because of their lower price points, devices running Android and to a lesser extent Windows will begin to gain in popularity. “Companies like Google and Microsoft will find ways to bundle devices with curriculum and assessment–things relevant to educators,” says Borden. “A district superintendent is more likely to want to buy one rather than multiple solutions.”

I feel that this may be a Pearson-centric point of view; the best applications of learning with tablets that I’ve seen involve savvy, empowered teachers mixing and matching a variety of creative apps on the fly, rather than adhering to one prepackaged curriculum. However, Dr. Borden may be right that prepackaged solutions will gain in popularity even if it’s not the best outcome for learners.

Interesting note: when I ask Borden about tablets’ lack of keyboards, he says that may actually be a plus; brain science supports the notion that handwriting, including with a stylus, promotes retention of information, critical thinking and problem solving in a different way than typing. Keyboards win for efficiency, but voice recording and recognition can help supplement them.

6. A La Carte Learning:

This trend is perhaps more relevant to postsecondary and lifelong learning, but the idea of growing minicertifications, badges, and smaller “chunks” of learning has relevance to K-12 as well, especially as it relates to the gamification of curriculum and certifying or recognizing informal learning in subjects that traditional school doesn’t teach, like coding, for example. The hype about badges has been building since at least 2010, but this is still one to watch.

7. Constructivism Will Flourish:

Dr. Borden takes the interesting step of joining the trends of flipped-classroom, the maker movement, project based learning, challenge-based learning and employer-based learning under the single rubric of “constructivism:” the theory that learning best comes through engagement with real things in the real world. “It’s all about learning in order to create,” says Dr. Borden.”We’re seeing these ideas make their way into educational journals, research projects and grants.” Students will be building portfolios of authentic accomplishments and performances rather than seeking to score on standardized tests.

8. Competency Based Learning (CBL):

In 2013 the Department of Education opened the regulatory gates to college programs that certify learning, not seat time. Public, private, and for-profit institutions are already offering these programs, including at the University of Wisconsin, and the buzz is only going to grow in the coming years, says Dr. Borden.

The relevant point to K-12 is the theme of accountability drifting into the higher education space. “People are concerned that competency-based learning will lead to a NCLB mindset in higher ed,” says Dr. Borden. “We don’t want to see the proliferation of heavy testing that takes away from critical thinking and problem-solving. This debate will run for a long time to come.”

What trends are you watching in 2014? Let me know in the comments.


POSTED BY Anya Kamenetz ON December 30, 2013

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Rene Grimes

Thank you for this article. I am a second grade classroom teacher and I have several thoughts on each of your points. However, I want to focus on the issue of tablets. I absolutely support the use of tablets as instructional tools but the following comments concern me:
“iPads currently have 94% of the educational tablet market” – The questions here are: What is an “educational” app? Does engagement/”fun” equal learning (NO!)? How do these apps measure understanding? What can Apple do to ensure apps claiming to be educational, or that Apple deems “educational” by virtue of their search engine, really are educational? How many of these apps are research-based designed, followed up with empirical studies? (For examples of apps based on research and whose developers are actively involved in formal studies, check out Native Numbers http://www.nativebrain.com and the suite of “WeCollabrify” apps for both iOS and Android http://www.intergalacticmlc.org/WeCollabrify_App.html)
BUT…an even bigger question looms…who gets to choose the apps used in classrooms and what metrics are used to evaluate the apps that are chosen?
This leads to the next concern:”prepackaged solutions will gain in popularity even if it’s not the best outcome for learners.” YIKES…re-read those last nine words! That is exactly what I fear. Read that again for effect! Administrators will choose packed products for any number of reasons: assumptions that the packages contain equally rigorous curricula, cost, little resources (personnel, time, and money) to evaluate the THOUSANDS of apps available …How many of us really use all the items in any bundled product (think automobile options, cable television, preinstalled apps on phones….). I don’t want to weed through all the apps in a bundled product to determine which ones have real educational value; I have neither the time nor desire. Yet, neither do I trust that every app in a bundle can be used in MY educational context. There is plenty of research showing that what works in one setting may not work in another. Enough of the one size fits all education!
Yes, there are plenty of savvy teachers who implement technology by using a variety of apps for different purposes across different content areas. I hope enough teachers will collectively raise their voices and let their administrators know they will wait for an app that is worthy of their student’s time and the district’s money…and I hope we teachers will not be lazy enough to accept bundled products without first evaluating those systematically and critically. I hope administrators will listen to those voices. I hope policy makers will take a stand and require “truth in advertising” principals for apps claiming to have educational value. We require this for nutritional supplements, is our children’s education not equally at risk of “filler” substances claiming great benefits?

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