The following article is by Farimah Schuerman, managing partner of Academic Business Advisors. Farimah's strength has always been in helping educators and edtech companies understand the big picture.
We’re seeing a convergence of activity and trends that, when combined, will really accelerate technology implementation.
Afghan students learning English. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The first is around Common Core, and by extension, assessments that are the natural outgrowth of the new standards. At the recent CoSN/ SIIA Feedback Forum the CTOs of districts large and small were bemoaning the need to convert computers, which are normally used for instruction, into testing devices. Between the collection of the machines, sanitizing them, and the time in actually administrating exams, they felt a lot of teaching time would be lost. The common thinking was that these assessments would be internet based, (though issues about security were far from resolved.) Another expectation was that a single type of device would be required to ensure a common testing experience. In order to meet the requirements, CTOs are trying to figure out how to afford enough machines to accomplish the testing without jeopardizing instruction. Certainly, over the next couple of years we’ll see lots of alternative devices and methods for assessment evolve, but the financial challenge and the dual and competing needs will create a tension that’s unlikely to be easily addressed.
The second trend is the “Flipped Classroom.” Educators are clamoring to learn strategies and techniques that capitalize on student-centered learning, and on a recent SIIA committee call we learned that a recent webinar on the subject had over 1000 registrations. Truly impressive. With the proliferation of both free and paid web resources that students can access at home, and many software providers with Cloud-based applications that allow home access, anytime, anywhere learning is a reality. Teachers with ever-increasing class sizes can focus their energies on mentoring learning and helping students with specific challenges and students can move at their own pace. More and more applications will run and a multitude of devices and students can find resources for their own devices.
The third ties into both of the others, and that is “BYOD.” Districts are sharing their policies, methodologies and philosophies on how to implement policies that allow student to use their own devices, and using limited funds to lend equipment to students who don’t have home access instead
of waiting to see if they ever get enough resources to supply all s
tudents with laptops or tablets. Internet providers are offering low-cost services for education, so that access is more accessible. This trend has been picking up a lot of steam over the past year in particular. You’ll find lots of webinars and discussions on this topic.
Comfortable Seating, Learning Resource Centre, Edge Hill University (Photo credit: jisc_infonet)
The challenge we’re going to face is getting teaching staff, including administrators, comfortable with these trends that are driving the market. Whether you’re using tablets or laptops, or even cell phones, (even whiteboards, but that’s another topic) leveraging the available technologies to enhance or accelerate the learning activity will be key to having success. Luckily, there are companies and associations offering help in getting educators up to speed. The naturally social nature of the education community has spawned a number of very active social communities of learning that lend further support.
The combined impact of these trends are sure to have a snowballing effect on what schools and teachers can achieve with their students, and the impact of one-to-one device is going to have a real effect on educational activities, lessons, curriculum, and procedures.