EdTech is about to explode. The coming technology and the new trends on the rise can’t but forecast an extensive technology adoption in schools all around the globe.
Specific apps, systems, codable gadgets and the adaptation of general use elements to the school environment are engaging teachers and opening up the way to new pedagogical approaches. And while we are scratching the surface of some of them, others have just started to buzz persistently.
WEARABLES + NANO/MICRO TECHNOLOGY + THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Wearables are apparel and accessories with integrated electronic technologies, as sensors, processors or communication chips; thus, their future is directly linked to technology’s evolution. The more it evolves, the smaller and faster the devices will be, meaning that a wristband will get transformed into a micro wearable inside your skin, or, for example, virtual glasses into contact lens, bionic eyes, or even brain-chips for direct communication with your nervous system. If you think that’s SciFi check these articles:
Thinking carefully, you’ll realize you’re carrying wearables most of the day. The smartphone, with several sensors, can be used for many things, even for the most unusual ones, as fitness or sleep tracking. Besides, assistants as Google Now provide context based experience. Students usually use smartphones to keep track of their agenda, text their mates for help while doing their homework, research and, of course, to play.
Despite the fact that wearables do simple things (notifications, gesture and voice commands, biometric measuring…), it seems the tendency will be to make them connect to other devices, servers, etc, to provide more complex services (The Internet of Things), and structuring an intricate net (The Hybrid Cloud, that I funnily call The Mammatus). For that, many companies have already joined to develop a common standard for wearables, as Intel or IBM.
- Virtual assistants, classrooms, or schools.
- Virtual Labs, for chemistry experimentation, music composition, 3d painting, planet exploring and all kind of simulators.
- Visual dynamic portfolios, through video recordings (as dash cams).
- Augmented reality.
Watches, wristbands or earplugs aside from providing useful information can be used to control the agenda, track a student through GPS, text him, set reminders, etc. But there are even more awesome inventions: caressing shirts, diapers analyzing feces, bands recording biometric data, earplugs reading biorhythms to decide which music to play (check Septimu: http://youtu.be/wQmTeXDaV7k), insoles tracking your daily activity, tennis rackets recording your performance, sensors detecting body postures to avoid injuries (http://www.lumobodytech.com/), or electrodes changing your mood (http://www.thync.com/). For school:
- Class agenda.
- Biometric control: know what time of the school day you are in the best/worst physical condition, or which subject makes your heart beat faster, or what your overall state is for an exam. Teachers might know as well if a student is ill or nervous, and adapt his lessons to achieve a better mood in class.
- Assistance to students with special needs or disabilities.
- Assistance during trips outside school: visits to museums, traveling abroad...
The presence of wearables has led to new phenomena, as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device, to school). If your institution may not have enough resources to provide students with a wearable, it seems of common sense to let them carry theirs. The problem here lies on how to control their correct use. If you have ever tried to use mobile phones in classroom, you’d have noticed it can be quite complicated to avoid students from losing track of the lesson, as tons of notifications start to beep and pop up. To know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bring_your_own_device
In addition, If you’re a STE(A)M teacher, you might like to include a do-it-yourself wearable in your class projects using chips provided by companies as Intel (http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/do-it-yourself/edison.html).
3D + 4D PRINTING
This technology in on the rise in schools, as it allows students to fast prototype ideas and create tangible things.
Its uses are vast:
- Arts and crafts (sculptures, ornaments, logos, molds).
- History (paleontology, all sort of antique items, models for war recreation, buildings, religious items).
- Technology (gears and machine pieces, boards for circuits).
- Science (prototyping).
- Maths (geometry, fractals, 3d functions).
- Geology (lands, mountains, minerals, planets, maps).
- Chemistry (molecule structures, crystals).
- Biology (body parts, viruses, cells, extinct beings).
- Physics (miniaturized environments to try laws).
- Languages (items related to the culture and history of the language, special symbols).
- Music (instruments).
- Sports (trophies, medals, items for playing).
- And, puzzles, games (chess boards), apparel… let your imagination fly (or listen to your classroom’s needs).
4D is, for sure, the coming evolution of 3D printing, being self assembling 3D printed structures. New materials will open the field for 4Ding, as it can be seen in this video: http://youtu.be/3pMPWdQf-Mk
BIG DATA + DATA MINING
If Education is about something, that’s data. From oral transmission, to books, the Internet and, finally, the abyss of information that is being generated on a daily basis: the Big Data. But, do only humans create it? The Internet of Things is doing its work too.
Societies are exploiting this unstoppable titan for their economy, culture and leisure fabrics. Then, is man using it, or is it driving man? Only the future will tell, but what it’s sure is that students need to be prepared to deal with it. The Data Scientist role is a new emerging profile (http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=data%20scientist), and according to IBM he needs to know about: Computer Science, Maths, statistics, analytics and modeling; and he should even be a kind of a philosopher (http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/infosphere/data-scientist/).
Student work won’t be about accessing the same information sources anymore, and they will have to: dig in the new data mining world, find all sort of information items, sieve, relate and, finally, organize them in valuable representations. In this scenario new concepts are about to be buzzing, as learning analytics, machine learning and new data representations.
This kind of learning is, in fact, a real actual phenomenon. If you are dealing with e-learning or b-learning, think of a web-based LMS platform able to adjust to mobile devices, with a complementary app integrated with others.
In the coming years a new thinking style will be settled in our societies. Online courses will be equaled to the more traditional ones, and certificates and badges will be trusted as much as to be used by companies to hire people. With the help of more and more powerful mobile devices school walls will be expanded (even companies’).
Besides, m-learning is opening up a new territory as well, not only for learning, but also for analytics. As MOOCs are rising and educational institutions are joining this trend, analyzing the huge mass of learners and behaviours all around the globe will be a big deal.
Coding is communicating; the next lingua franca with computerized systems. As chips are being stuck in devices, personalizing and programing all that stuff will be trendy. Thus, the scope is ample: computer, mobile and wearable apps, scripts (e.g. Google Drive)... and with new objects coming to life (http://www.slideshare.net/DavidKelly3/why-wearable-technology-will-change-learning-forever) it seems mandatory to know how to code.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE + DEEP LEARNING....on the next page
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE + DEEP LEARNING
Even though AI and neural networks are very present in our daily lives (routing, spam detection, games, expert systems, grammar correction, conversational systems, speech and image recognition, advertising…) it’s obvious they’ll become more present. For education, some examples of use are:
- Adaptative learning: based on a student’s behaviour and results, an intelligent assistant can predict and readapt the learning path to those necessities. Combined with biometrics and the ubiquitous persona (explained below) a student could have the best experience ever.
- Automatic courses on the fly, with contents collected by intelligent searching systems (data mining).
- Virtual tutors.
THE UBIQUITOUS PERSONA + GAMIFICATION + SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNING
If gamification, social media and MOOCs are to rocket the ultimate virtual profile has to be agreed: the persona. This will be a mega profile composed of real life data, as your education and career, carefully analyzed and arranged by AI bots. But more information will be collected, as the one sent by wearables, including geolocalization, biometric data and the like. This persona will have real-life impact, as in job-seeking, leisure (experience improvement) or health, and of course, the user will decide what to share.
There are some powerful profiles at the moment, as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, and the companies behind them are struggling to extend their products’ scope, but the fact is that, for example, Facebook is more related to leisure and LinkedIn to career development. Which one of them ends up crystallizing in something tangible as, for example, hiring? That’s what people will be seeking eventually.
In school, persona will help personalize students’ educational experience, adapt contents to their capacities, track their evolution and help in the assessment.
SPECIALISED STAFF IN SCHOOLS
As technology evolves quite too fast school staff will need additional help. The actual school landscape looks like:
- Teachers trying to find time to check resources in a mare magnum of options.
- The use of not so good technological solutions (or, in other words, bad decisions).
- A continuous use-and-drop philosophy, burning out teachers and students.
- Buying certain tech products because they’re fashionable.
The ICT coach role, played by Computer Scientists and similar professionals working as teachers, will be on the rise. People able to:
- Quickly analyze the technological panorama.
- Seek and adapt technological solutions to schools.
- Merge technological, pedagogical and humane aspects.
- Spread the tech philosophy inside school.
- Educate other teachers in good practices.