Technology is an ever-changing field, and that includes the area of educational technology. There are several educational technology trends in 2017 we are looking at for the new year. It can be a full-time job trying to keep up with all the advancements in technology each year, and 2017 will not be any different. There are some cool enhancements for technology released in 2016, and many of these will have applications in education. I can’t cover all the instructional technology that will be coming out this year but will try and cover the best technology in 2016 that may have an educational application. Education is a changing field, and you must do your best to take the technology to the students and meet them where they are. This means students spend the majority of their time on social networks, then you should try to incorporate social media in education activities.
Education Technology in 2016
Oculus Rift – Oculus Rift was purchased by Facebook a couple of years ago and since they have ben steadily working on releasing their virtual reality platform. They just this week have started taking pre-orders for the headset which will retail at $599. This is probably one of the most advanced technology products to come along in recent years. While the main purpose right now seems to be a gaming platform, there are some great applications in education. Imagine putting on the headset and be instantly transported into a virtual world where you witness the battle of Gettysburg Or witness the signing of the declaration of independence. History is one area where this technology can be utilized in education to increase understanding of the material, but there could be much more. Kinetic learning can take place in a virtual environment where the student is protected. Imagine a scenario where a student is put into an environment that for either safety reasons or simple cost, that educators can not expose a student to currently. Students can learn how to combat an infectious disease outbreak from the security of the classroom.
This technology is not there yet, but the possibilities for this technology in 2016 and beyond is only limited by the imagination of educators who think outside the box and start creating content. This does sound a little bit like science fiction. A StarTrek holodeck or the scene from the Matrix where Keanu Reeves looks up and states I know KungFu, but this technology does leave the door open to that sort of educational application
Wearable Technology – Apple released the iWatch last year to a pretty much lackluster reception. There was an awful lot of hype around this product, but the sales have been way below expectations. But this is a technology that is getting used in education today and the trend will likely continue into 2016. You are probably asking how can a watch be useful in education. Well, there are some opportunities for collaboration type activities if all the students had a smart watch, but the biggest things it’s being used for now is cheating. Several colleges and universities have banned smart watches on test days for this very fact. The timepiece can set on the student’s arm, and answers can be transmitted from an outside source, or they can even use them to communicate across crowded lecture halls. There are more and more of these type of wearable technology coming on the market, and it’s very possible, the attempt to use smart wearable technology to cheat will become enhanced in 2017. This is one more thing that educators will need to star tot police in the coming years. Not all technology in 2017 will produce a positive experience for teachers.
Cloud-Based Technology – The cloud is becoming a driving factor behind a lot of technology over the past few years, and that technology will continue to evolve in 2016. Many of the tech giants are better the farm on cloud-based applications and as such many other smaller companies are innovating to try and keep up. If you take a look at the strides Google classroom has made in education or the benefits provided to education institutions by Office 365, both Google and Microsoft understand the value in cloud technology. Since both these platforms are provided as a free technology for educators and these companies are investing millions, you should realize they are not just doing this out of the goodness of their heart. They provide these educational applications to train the students to become used to using cloud-based applications after graduation.
The cloud also is very enticing to educational technology managers as it allows a college or university to provide much more robust technology at a lower cost than they could internally. The cloud also makes it possible for application developers to deliver the 1000’s of educational applications to various mobile devices. Updating the app is seamless and you maintain a constant connection with the user. You can send them messages and update the educational application with new features very easily. Microsoft and Google are currently duking it out for who will control the cloud market for education but it’s unclear who will win in this endeavor.
Digital Textbooks – Digital textbooks are gaining momentum as having textbooks digitally provides many benefits to both the student and the educational institution. McGraw-Hill is leading the way in this space as they have developed SmartBook. This platform has been out a couple of years but its starting to pick up steam over the past year. There should be a continued push to adopt this technology in educational institutions in 2017. Platforms like the Smartbook allow students to create bookmarks, write notes in their books, or even doodle if they so desire and have a compatible tablet, all the things students have grown accustomed to doing with college textbooks. These digital books also offer the ability to search text and even connect to the internet to download errata and other updated content. Digital books are also gaining traction in K-12 for the same reasons above. K12 schools do not want students to write in books as the student is normally loaned the book and any writing reduces the quality for the next student who may get it. But with the digital versions, it does not matter as the new student can just get a fresh copy. Of course, the main attraction to digital books is the cost. Publishers do not incur the cost of printing with digital resources so that they can offer the digital textbooks at a much lower price. This helps the student and also helps the k12 schools where the book cost is not passed on to the student. Even if you remove all the additional benefits like searching text, etc.. from the digital textbook, the cost savings alone are enough to drive further adoption. Expect e-Books or Digital Textbooks to become the norm in education in 2017 and beyond. They are here to stay.
Mobile Applications – Mobile will continue to make crossroads into the educational arena in 2017. There are now more mobile devices on the internet than there are full computers and that trend will only increase over time. Mobile is here to stay, and education needs to adapt to this trend so we can meet the students where they are. There are a wealth of iPad mobile apps out there that are useful for college students. College students can now purchase their textbooks at discounted prices from mobile apps such as the Intel Education Study textbook mobile application. This application boasts thousands of current college textbooks that student can obtain as a digital download from right in the app as reduced costs.
These are just a few of the technology growing in 2016 and 2017 and how they may be used to supplement educational activities. Technology is ever changing, but a lot of times education is slow to keep up. This will start to change in the coming years as more and more educators come to the realization that the students demand the use of instructional technology in the classroom.