Without further ado – a little of what we’d really like to see in schools for 2012. And kudos to the teachers who’ve experimented and grown in their savviness this year!
1. Getting connected – networked schools need wireless access so that teachers can effectively use the technologies available to them, engage in professional development “on the fly”, and access digital content beyond the confines of the library lab. Then they can test all the work-arounds that beat the firewalls still in place in many schools and use HDMI to share the world within the classroom environment.
2. Classroom management applications in a one to one environment. Several companies (SMART Sync, LanSchool) have launched products enabling a teacher to control student devices from an application, push content, and enable collaborative groups. They can block certain sites, and reduce distraction by steering students toward content and applications relevant to coursework and learning objectives.
3. Bring Your Own Device. Although concerns about equity and access persist, BYOD can allow teachers to work with the tools kids are already bringing to school. Typically seen in High Schools (who’ve realized that if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em), expect this trend to trickle down to the middle and intermediate level as cash-strapped schools and boards offset the cost of major hardware purchases to parents.
4. VoiceThread type collaborative applications that incorporate multimedia and encourage participation. Students can respond to any type of content, like a photo, a video, or a text using their mobile devices. Apps like this encourage critical thinking, sharing, and let kids practice using a number of formats to build their digital profiles.
5. Use of cameras on devices for capturing student work, thought processes etc, particularly as Full Day Kindergarten takes hold in provinces like Ontario. Teachers looking for enhanced assessment can video students in action as they engage in early learning activities, providing a visual running record of progress.
6. Open Educational Resources. Major initiatives across several Canadian provinces are booting the cost and hegemony of traditional publishers in favour of flexible content providers like Flat World Knowledge and CK12.org’s Flexbooks. Teachers have always been amazing at creating their own stuff (know one who doesn’t have 90 plastic “theme” tubs in their basement?), and the growing number of free digital publishing platforms like Pressbooks allow the motivated to make their own materials.
7. Teacher tech training. Apple has Distinguished Educators. Google certifies teachers proficient in using its apps in the school setting. The ed reform movement has placed a lot of pressure on teachers to get up to speed on classroom tech, and we can expect schools to respond by increasing training and PD opportunities. Canada’s ed tech leaders are all over Twitter and make big splashes at the highest profile conferences, like ISTE and FETC.
8. An influx of tech savvy new teachers coming out of programs like Brock University’s Education Technology Leadership cohort, which places 30 student teachers armed with the latest and greatest in hardware and software in classrooms while they learn leadership skills.
9. In-house social networks. Homework lost? Grades forgotten? Missed a council meeting? In the age of pervasive social networking, there’s no reason to miss anything when schools enable secure communities like EdModo and the new and amazing Edsby. With the user friendliness of Facebook combined with the home and school connection proven to impact student achievement, we can expect to see the demise of the weekly pdf’d newsletter and twice a year parent teacher interviews.
10. A backlash to the plethora of gadgets, games and apps that filter their way into the classroom. As childhood obesity rates soar and research shows us that kids are spending less and less time doing what kids need to do, we can expect strong resistance to the amount of time spent online from teachers, parents, physicians, and the media. Expect campaigns to launch that will make you question your child’s amount of screen time. Maybe it’s a skateboard instead of a new DS game this Christmas.