In its most recent Driving K-12 Innovation report, released in January, the Consortium for School Networking identifies barriers in education and predicts technology that could help remove those barriers, CEO Keith Krueger said.

“Considering what’s going on with distance learning, there are a number of trends that our experts find particularly important,” he says of the 100 or so global experts consulted for the report.

The top three technology enablers to expect moving forward, according to CoSN, are

  • Digital collaboration environments that enable multi-user virtual communications, whether across the room or across the world
  • Broadband not connected and connectivity that enable mobility and learning anytime, anywhere
  • Blended learning tools used to strategically integrate online and in-person activities to enhance student learning

Krueger says that even after the pandemic is over and students return to some level of in-person education, online learning will continue in one form or another.

“Everything has changed with COVID,” he says. “So many other students and teachers now understand what virtual learning can do. “

Renewed focus on the challenges of unconnected broadband connectivity

COVID has also changed the way schools view broadband. The last decade has focused on strengthening broadband and Wi-Fi access in schools. Yet school connectivity has not helped low-income students in unconnected or rural areas without broadband access during this period of distance learning.

Michael Hansen, senior researcher at the Brookings Institution and director of the Brown Center on Education Policy, says connectivity issues and the digital divide have affected students’ ability to access distance learning. For example, if students had a device at home, it might not be available when the student needed it because a parent or sibling was using it, he says.

Hansen says connectivity will be a key goal for schools in the future.

“What we’ve been realizing since March is that you need unconnected broadband where the students are, and the students are now mostly at home,” Krueger said.

Educators’ personal capacity for education technology expands

Likewise, Joseph South, chief learning officer at the International Society for Technology in Education, says the pandemic has helped shape the future of educational technology.

“Education has become remote out of necessity,” he says. “So they had to adopt practices to use their synchronous time for more efficient activities than just lectures, and find ways to provide direct instruction outside of live interaction time through digital resources that they create or organize so that their live time can be more focused on discussion and problem solving.

Educators were forced to try new models and tools, which increased their personal ability to use educational technology well and showed them what is possible, South says. The pandemic has helped more teachers learn about video, audio and slide sharing tools.

TO LEARN: Helpful tips and tricks teachers can use in Google Classroom.

In 2021, South says it expects an increase in the number and use of educational technology coaches and library media specialists to support educators. The relationship between professional development and technology will not be separated in the future, he says.

“I’m also seeing an increase in the professionalization of the role of an education technology coach,” says South. “More training and experience in pedagogy and technology will be necessary to hold this title. “

In the future, teachers and students will also be more engaged in creating videos. Educators are already adopting apps like Seesaw, Loom, and Flipgrid to create and edit videos for teaching, peer feedback, and student work as a replacement for written homework.

“It’s a trend that has become completely mainstream during the pandemic, as technology becomes more user-friendly and inexpensive, and teachers are loving it,” he says.

Changes in digital citizenship strategy and online testing become priorities

South also predicts that teachers will focus more on digital citizenship. Without the controlled environment of a face-to-face classroom, students must take responsibility for their online behavior and need help developing the skills and disposition to do so, he says.

“Digital citizenship will become a core skill for teachers and students,” South says.

LOOK: Find out how school districts are evolving their digital citizenship initiatives.

This will be especially true even after the “end of the pandemic”, as the possibility of staggered hours and closed schools in the event of an epidemic or outbreak will require districts to be “ready remotely,” Hansen says, for s ‘ensure that teaching time is not wasted.

Lower-tier priorities over the coming year, he says, will be a potential shift to standardized online testing as school districts await a word on whether the federal government will waive testing requirements.

“I fully expect COVID to be a pivotal point in how we think about standardized testing,” he says, adding that schools will likely adopt more frequent, low-stakes testing over the course of the year. replacement of traditional end-of-year tests. year of testing. “In my opinion, this is a movement that needs to happen, and COVID is a catalyst to make it happen – a way we are going to see technology replace a very common mainstream school practice. “

School districts leading the pack

While many of these trends are expected to be dominant, South points to some pioneers whose innovative approaches could eventually be accepted more widely.

He mentions public schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where artificial intelligence is incorporated into the K-12 curriculum and school feeding models.

“The need for students to understand how AI works in their chosen field and to be aware of the ethical issues it raises will become more essential for them, regardless of what future profession they aspire to,” says South.

Adaptive curriculum also shows great promise, he says. Most educators faced great challenges getting their program online this year, and that’s all they could do. But a better solution is a program and assessments that adapt to the performance of the student.

This approach, he says, engages students, helps set effective learning goals, measures mastery in real time, and saves teachers time. A challenge with adaptive courseware, however, is that they are often not as customizable by individual teachers as the design is necessarily more complicated.

South also says some innovators are using gamification to effectively improve engagement.

“The use of game design principles to help motivate and engage students has grown during COVID-19 and will continue to grow in 2021,” he says.

Now that more and more educators are using digital tools and digital platforms, he expects to see increased interest in integrating game components into virtual platforms.

“Teaching will not be the same in the future, even when students return to classrooms face to face,” South says. “There will be a greater reliance on digital learning resources and platforms, as well as greater individualization and differentiation to ensure that we reach all students. “

MORE ABOUT EDTECH: Bridge the connectivity gap with extended and optimized networks.

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