Looking Back on the Edtech Trends of 2015
As the year draws to a close, it’s important to look back at the key edtech trends of 2015. The changes are more incremental than in past years—though no less crucial—as the concept of education technology becomes increasingly widespread.
1. Better Technology
It might go without saying, but one of the most important and constant changes in the field of education technology is, of course, the evolution of technology itself. With more advanced personal devices and a greater focus on creating applications that respond to the educational needs of the user, we’ve taken great strides towards embracing technology as an educational tool.
2. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
This isn’t a new term—it’s been a growing trend for the past few years. But MOOCs have continued to gain traction as a more affordable but equally efficient way for delivery education. As an effort to promote the idea of “learning from anywhere,” some higher-ed institutions are even integrating online courses into their traditional course offerings.
3. BYOD & 1:1 Technology
With technology becoming increasingly accessible, schools have begun to change regulations on bringing personal electronic devices. Most notably, the City of New York lifted the ban on cell phones in public schools. Since the ban came into place in 2006, NYC students were no longer permitted to bring their devices with them, forced to leave them at home completely or pay extra to outside vendors to store them safely. This is the first step to incorporating technology into the daily lives of students, using it as a means for furthering education. More and more schools are encouraging students to bring laptops and other personal devices to class for the purposes of note-taking and digital collaboration.
4. Flipped Learning
The concept of flipped learning re-imagines the traditional classroom environment, bringing the “homework” into the classroom and taking the lecture at home. An increasing number of teachers have begun to see the benefits of fostering a greater student-teacher relationship by letting students undertake and understand course material at their own pace. The classroom then becomes a space for questions, meaningful discussions, and collaborative thinking. To aid this effort is the usage of the online discussion boards that come as a feature in most learning management systems. Students have the chance to critically think about the material and have a foundation of thoughts to expand on in class. Presenting students with starter discussion questions before the class lets them be more prepared and thus more likely to engage in the conversation.
5. OER (Open Educational Resources)
With technology making the world smaller, open educational resources are educational tools free for anyone to use and easily accessible online. It’s a great way for schools and students to access quality materials even within budgetary constraints. While OER seems like a magic solution to many 21st century learning issues, we still need to make steps to ensure students have access to high-speed Internet connections and OER providers have what they need to keep producing materials.
As we continue to expand the presence of technology in education, we need to keep track of what has been achieved, but also what hasn’t. There’s still a lot that needs to happen in the edtech field as we pay more attention to eliminating the achievement gap and engaging all students—regardless of gender, race, or income status–in STEM/STEAM fields.
Suchita is a student at Emerson College, where she is pursuing a BFA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing for poetry with a Global & Post-Colonial Studies minor. She has been published in Verge Magazine (Canada) and Affairs Today (UK).