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One way to get a sense of edtech trends is to take a look at the sessions put on by educators at the annual ISTE Conference & Expo, one of the largest education technology gatherings in the world.
This year the high-interest topics aren’t the new and shiny ones. Instead, they are subjects that have been burnished by age and use, and are changing as they mature.
We all know about virtual reality, professional learning and digital citizenship, but the content of sessions reflect new thinking about all of them. Read on to learn some familiar and new trends.
AI is no longer the stuff of the future; today's students are already interacting with in their personal lives and will surely be using it in their future careers. “We talk about AI as if it’s coming,” but in fact, it’s already here, and it’s been here, says ISTE Chief Learning Officer Joseph South.
Educators are beginning to realize that students need to understand this new technology, not just as users but as creators. But to truly understand how AI works — and to become effective problem-solvers with it — students need to learn how to build it themselves.
Thanks to a new generation of AI-powered tools at their fingertips, students can use artificial intelligence to create in all sorts of new ways, from animating videos to composing symphonies.
Augmented and virtual reality have been among the hottest trends in edtech for years. But even though the wow factor has faded, they’ve taken off in schools as teachers have become more comfortable with the technology and pedagogy, and developers have released more products for the classroom.
The inexpensive Merge Cube is popular with teachers as a way to introduce learning to students that is absolutely irresistible. Students can put their hands on a beating heart or look inside a functioning human system. The tiny cube can transport social studies students from merely exploring a map to holding a hologlobe in the palm of their hands.
And students aren’t just going on VR and AR field trips; they’re creating them! These immersive learning environments are not only exciting but enduring.
More school districts are embracing edtech coaches as a worthy investment. With that comes new interest in how to be an effective tech coach and the best ways to teach teachers. Tech coaching is a relatively new role and educators are hungry for ideas on methods of training, strategies and tools.
Districts or schools that don’t have designated coaches – or don’t have enough of them — are finding interesting work-arounds, such as training teachers to take on the role for a limited time.
At its core, design thinking is creative problem-solving. And it’s that creative component coupled with its central role in tech innovation that have made it a perfect educational approach. As an essential component of the maker movement, the process requires empathizing with users, challenging assumptions, designing solutions, testing and redesigning. All those efforts draw on and strengthen creativity. And it works across disciplines.
The ISTE Standards
The ISTE Standards have been around since 1998 but there’s been a surge of interest among educators who are looking for guidelines for using technology in a way that empowers student voice and ensures that learning is a student-driven process.
This new focus on the ISTE Standards reflects a need to understand how trends in edtech – from podcasting to artificial intelligence – promote the principles behind the standards.
Social emotional learning
Social emotional learning (SEL) takes a whole-child approach by emphasizing students’ emotional well-being and social skills as vital connections to academic performance. SEL helps students develop emotional intelligence that allows them to manage emotions, show empathy for others and establish healthy relationships. What does that have to do with edtech? A lot, actually. Technology allows students to learn in a real world context and practice these vital skills in real time with real people.
Understanding how people learn is complex and the subject of never-ending scientific inquiry, and staying current on research-based practices ensures educators are teaching in the most effect manner possible. It’s also a foundation of the ISTE Standards for Educators.
The phrase was coined in 2004 and its meaning has evolved in its second decade to emphasize the positive contributions digital media can make to society. What started as a set of rules to govern behavior and keep people safe online has evolved into a concept for seeing possibilities instead of risks. This new focus aims to help users leverage the power of digital media to make their communities better, influence public policy and engage respectfully in the digital age public square.
Jerry Fingal is a freelance writer and editor who covers education, business, finance and agriculture.