The K12 New Horizon report covers many key technology trends in education.  Last year I focused on important technology developments for schools. This year I will focus on very important key trends accelerating education technology adoption in schools. 

FAST TRENDS: Driving educational technology adoption in schools over the next one to two years

Teachers are increasingly expected to be adept at a variety of technology-based and other approaches for content delivery, learner support, and assessment; to collaborate with other teachers; to routinely use digital strategies in their work with students; to act a guides and mentors to promote student-centered learning. As schools make the shift to more student-centered learning, they are also faced with rethinking the functions of teachers. In ideal situations the teacher’s role is becoming that of a mentor, visiting with groups and individuals during class to guide them while allowing them more say in their own learning. 

This trend has led to a number of regional and global efforts to aggregate best practices and create new resources for the 21st century teacher. Increased accessibility to the internet has also sparked profound changes in traditional paradigms. Teachers are therefore no longer the primary source of information. Instead it is up to teachers to reinforce the habits and discipline that shape life-long learners – to ultimately foster the kind of curiosity that would compel student to continue beyond an internet search and dig deeper into the subject matter.

Implications for policy, leadership & practice
: Key to nurturing the new role of teachers is providing them with plentiful opportunities for professional development. Part of finding success is determining the right balance in how class time is used, which is party why teaching models like the ‘flipped classroom’ are gaining momentum. 

There is a new emphasis in the classroom on deeper learning approaches, defined as the delivery of rich core content to student in innovative ways that allow them to learn and then apply what they have learned. Project-based learning, problem-based learning, enquiry-based learning, challenge-based learning and similar methods foster more active learning experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.  

As technologies such as tablets and smartphones are more readily accepted in schools, educators are leveraging these tools to connect the curriculum with real life applications. These approaches are decidedly more student-centered, allowing learners to take control of how they engage with a subject.

Deeper learning is therefore a term increasingly used to describe a variety of approaches in which students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to a complex question, problem or challenge. By working on self-directed projects where students think critically and communicate effectively, students are mastering core academic content aligned with 21st century skills while tackling real issues in their community and beyond.

To enable the shift to deeper learning, schools are thinking about how they can leverage technology to produce products and extend the learning experience beyond the classroom.

Implications for policy, leadership or practice: Education leaders are working together to develop more professional development opportunities for teachers so they can integrate deeper learning in the classroom. For example, Expedition Learning, a Hewlett Foundation grantee, develops curriculum, lesson plans, and training opportunities for educators. Education leaders can use this growing body of resources to promote the value of deeper learning and bolster the integration of this approach in schools.

(See part 2 for mid-range trends)

Full K12 New Horizon Report