Future Trends in Education

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John Dewy hit the nail on the head when he said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” The world is a vast and dynamic place, fluidly changing with each new invention and innovation. According to the United States Department of Labor, 65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet. Teachers need to be a few steps ahead in order to prepare students for this world. Teaching our students the same way as we were taught would truly be doing them a disservice and not preparing them to be successful adults in the 21st century. This is a continual debate among older teachers that believe the way they have been doing things for the past 30 years is just fine. There are also many young and enthusiastic teachers coming into the profession every year that are much more willing to learn new technologies. Many of these teachers have never lived in a world without the World Wide Web, so of course they are going to be more comfortable with technology.

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When it comes to technology in education, things are always changing. However, it is interesting to see how quickly the “next best thing” becomes superfluous when something bigger and better comes along. An example of this phenomenon, mostly unrelated to education, can be best seen in cellular devices. The iPhone 5C is released and everyone runs out and sells their iPhone 5 to get the newest version. Even people that try to stick it out and keep their older versions are soon forced to cave in when the majority of the software and apps no longer work on their “outdated” technology. I think an important thing to remember though, is that technology was at one time cutting edge.

Smart Board

It is important to reflect upon where we’ve been in order to really know where we are going. I don’t think that George Baron, the first person to introduce the chalkboard into the classroom in 1801, could have possibly imagined the SMART board technology we currently have in our classrooms. Sequentially, the whiteboard/ dry erase board came about in the 1950s and was not introduced to classrooms until the 1990s when health concerns were brought up by all the chalk dust in the air. In 2008 Idea Paint, a clear paint that can be put on any hard surface and will turn that surface into a whiteboard, was released. It isn’t being used in schools yet, but it could be the next big trend in education. The only reason I mention the progression of chalkboards is because at one time, the biggest new trend was the SMART Board, followed by the Promethean Board and Mimio. In my first year of teaching, four teachers in our building were piloting SMART Boards and it was a very big deal. The next year I was at a different school that had just gotten up and running and they hadn’t even considered purchasing SMART Boards because they were outdated. This difference blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that what was cutting edge one year, was outdated the next year. My school was looking into future trends in interactive whiteboard technology that were less expensive and more sustainable.

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There are a wide variety of interactive whiteboards available and they are not new technology. However, the kinds of interactive whiteboards that are being invented are trending in educational technology. The option that my new school chose is a software called Doceri. In addition to being an interactive whiteboard, this program is a screencasting tool invented specifically for teachers. The equipment needed includes an iPad, a projector, either Apple TV or a desktop computer, and a plain white surface such as a screen or a wall (I use my dry erase board.) The surface itself is not touch sensitive like it is on a SMART Board. Instead, the iPad becomes a remote. Whatever you do on the iPad is mirrored on the screen.

This has a lot of impact on teaching and learning. Teachers can quickly and easily pull up maps and photographs and write right on the images. This is a great tool for visual learners. The presentations can be saved for later and even posted online for students to reference later. It could help them while they are working on their homework. Doceri also lends itself to Flipping classrooms. Flipped classrooms are a current popular trend in education where students watch the lessons online at home instead of traditional homework and then they do the practice in class with the teacher.

I think that the most important aspect of Doceri is how many benefits it has for the teacher. From a classroom management standpoint, while using Doceri the teacher can be writing on the board while simultaneously walking around the classroom. We are no longer chained to the front of the room, hoping our kids aren’t doing anything crazy while our backs are turned and we’re writing. This writing can be done on the spot or in advance and can be saved for next year. Of course we always have to adjust our instruction for each specific group of kids and to incorporate new technologies, but having a baseline of electronic lessons already created would be very helpful.

Have you ever wanted to see the inside of a human heart without all the trouble of going to med school? How about handle all of the elements on the periodic table, including the dangerous ones without any risk at all? Or would you like to examine all the moving parts on the Mars Curiosity Rover without going to Mars? Augmented reality allows all of these to be possible along with many more possibilities.

It its simplest form, augmented reality is the first down line in a football broadcast. Augmented Reality is a modified vision of reality. Technology enhances our perception of reality in real time by giving us the ability to manipulate the real world. The information that has been figuratively everywhere since the World Wide Web came about can now literally be everywhere: on my kids’ homework, floating above their heads, or in the hallways of the school.

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Using devices like iPads we can bring two-dimensional images to life. Reports and surveys predict that basic augmented reality will be prevalent in education within the next year. There are already a plethora of apps available for basic to advanced augmented reality in the classroom. There are plenty of options for specific content areas, like reading. There is an app that uses augment reality characters to encourage students to learn their letters. There is another that lets students explore the human body. Spacecraft 3-D gives them the opportunity to explore multiple different NASA spacecraft, and seeing these spacecraft not just in a picture, but actually sitting on their desks is quite a thrill for the students. Having students color a picture and then bringing that picture to life in three-dimensional animation is the function of another equally awesome AR app.

Geotagging is another excellent AR application. It uses GPS coordinates and associates content, like videos or text, to a specific location. So as you walk through a designated place holding up your device, you will see text and resources floating in the air waiting to be explored. I could have students create a walking tour of our school that has no actual tour guide. This kind of technology has the power to engage students better than ever before and provides students with the ability to learn in their own unique way, not necessarily linearly.

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All of these individual apps are great for the classroom, however, they are noting compared to the possibilities of programs like Aurasma. This app allows you to place an “aura” around anything. This means if students scan their homework with their device, a video will pop up of me reminding them how to do the work and giving tips and tricks. I can also create an aura of the answers on a homework assignment so that students can do the work and then check it themselves. This makes student work super personalized and work at their own pace. If they need the directions again, they can just scan over that aura once more. It allows even struggling students some independence in their learning.

There are a few road blocks that would make this technology difficult to use in the classroom. The first one, like many other technologies, is having the devices. If this is to be a truly personalized and independent learning experience, there needs to be enough devices to support that. Also, the homework help, which is great, requires devices at home as well. The second hurdle that needs to be overcome is teaching the teachers to use this kind of technology. It does take a while to figure out and it requires some time to put together the lessons initially, but once they spend some time with it and put some lessons together it is going to make everything much easier and better for the students as well.

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Google Glass is a piece of technology that everyone is excitedly awaiting. I am excited to see what it can do in the classroom. Google Glass is essentially a personal computer. It’s a headset with a small screen right above your line of vision. It allows you to interact with the device hands free in a natural speaking voice. The possibilities with this tool are literally limitless. Students can be videotaping their teacher during the lesson and then watch it immediately. They can create photo and video projects hands free. They can be searching the Internet in the middle of a project. It can help English language learners by translating for them. Google Glass can also work with augmented reality.

There are also tons of applications for teachers to use. Facial recognition will help teachers identify their students at the beginning of the school year. A student could wear the Google Glass while the principal evaluates the teacher without being in the room and changing the dynamics with their presence. Teachers could document and re-use lessons as sharable records. It can also be used for one on one tutoring sessions while not in the same room using tools like Google hangout.

Google Glass really is a game-changing piece of technology. It could alter everything about how we teach. It is not available to the general public yet, so I think it is a long way off to get it into schools, but that is definitely a day I look forward to.

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I really enjoy reading dystopian fiction novels because they are usually set in the future and we get to see what the author thinks the word of the future is going to look like. In Marie Lu’s novel Champion she describes something very similar to Google Glass being used throughout an entire city. Here is a small piece of that description from the point of view of an outsider, June, who is new to the city:

“Keep these {glasses} on for the duration of your visit. They will help you see Ross City as it really is.” When I look around the lobby I notice all sorts of virtual numbers and words- the green plant in the corner has WATER +1 hovering over it, while CLEAN +1 floats above a side table. In the corner of my glasses, I see tiny, glowing words: June Iparis, Level 1, Sept. 22, 2123, Daily Score: 0, Cumulative score: 0.

As I pass someone I bow my head respectfully. To my surprise, I see the numbers in the corner of my glasses change. Daily Score: 1, Cumulative score: 1. My mind spins. Somehow, the glasses must have recorded my bowing action and added a point to this Antarctican scoring system, which means bowing is equal to one point. This is also when I realize something else: when the white-haired man spoke, I heard absolutely no accent- he’s speaking perfect English… maybe it’s acting as some sort of language translation device, allowing the Antarcticans to revert to their native language while still communicating with us without missing a beat.

The white haired man spoke, “Life in Ross City is a game, and we are all its players. Native Antarcticans have chips embedded near our temples once we turn thirteen. Almost every positive action you make in Ross City will earn you achievement points, while negative actions subtract points. As you accumulate points, you gain levels… Your level is everything in Ross City. This higher your level, the more money you make, the better jobs you can apply for, and the more respected you are. Our citizens are so engrossed in this game of life that most of them know better than to do things that will decrease their scores. We have very little crime in Ross City as a result.”

I wander the halls with my virtual glasses tucked into my pocket, relieved to see the world as it really is again without the onslaught of hovering numbers and words. I peer inside a room. It looks whitewashed. I put my virtual glasses on. The room now looks bright and full of colors, and the glass walls have all sorts of moving displays on them.

I find this passage fascinating from a technology standpoint and also from a behavioral conditioning standpoint. I like to wonder what schools would be like with this kind of system in place. There are technologies already available, not augmented reality, that do something similar. One of these is an app called Class Dojo that allows the teacher to give and take points from students for specific positive and negative behaviors.

One technology trend in education that has been getting a lot of push back is games. People say they can’t possibly be learning while playing a video game. These accusatory people don’t have all the facts before they make their argument. I think there is a fine line when using games in education as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Having kids sitting in front of a video screen all day, every day is not okay. However, there are skills in games that are really beneficial for students. We always need to be fostering students’ critical thinking skills and problem solving skills and games of any kind are a great way to do that. Also, the process students go through when playing video games looks a lot like what I think school should be about. Kids try to beat a difficult level but they fail. Then they immediately get to try again from the same spot where they left off, using what they learned from the last time to do a better job this time. That sounds like ideal education to me.

Of course there are actual games that are designed to explicitly teach our students. This kind of instruction is fun and motivating. Students will like playing games more than learning most any day. It is also self-paced. Students will play through levels of an educational game at the speed that is just right for them. It also can give them instant feedback, which is great for self-monitoring of learning.

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As a teacher, I love using games in my teaching. The main reason for this is that they are so engaging. Students love to play and I can see them learning through it, even if they don’t recognize it themselves. I have been trying to incorporate more games in my math class that aren’t specific to whatever content we are learning, but more to critical thinking and problem solving. One of these is creating a Lego marble maze. Students are given a bucket of Legos and a marble and are challenged with creating a maze for the marble to go through that is not easy to solve. I am amazed at the mazes my students come up with. Some of them cover the top so you can’t see inside. Others will put in traps where the marble gets stuck or falls out. These mazes far exceeded my expectations and I am so glad that I gave my students the opportunity to think critically.

This particular trend is incorporating into schools a bit differently than the others I have discussed because it does not necessarily need lots of technology devices or money to start off. There are lots of fantastic apps and websites with educational games available, but things like board games, card games, and Lego games I consider to be part of this new technology as well.

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Personal Learning Environments are another new up and coming technology. These are systems that allow learners to really take control of their own learning. A lot of web 2.0 tools are involved in this trend. Some of these include blogs, wikis, podcasts, Google Apps, and many others. The learning becomes specific to each student’s needs and interests. The environment is a conglomeration of lots of pieces that a student is in control of. One program that is somewhat of a game and is a large contributor to personal learning environments is Moby Max. This is a website that is free. After a teacher sets up an account and inputs all their students, each student takes a diagnostic placement test that assigns them an estimated grade level that they are working at in that subject. It has math, reading, and writing subject matter. Then, the teacher can choose specific lessons for that student to complete. The lessons are aligned with common core standards. So this is a completely independent, self-paced, and differentiated curriculum to supplement students’ learning. After the students complete so many minutes of lessons, it unlocks a few minutes of game play. And these are fun, educational games within the website.

The swing of the educational pendulum lately has been for teachers to be more like facilitators and less like lecturers. There will be difficulty incorporating personal learning environments into classrooms because teachers, especially older veteran teachers, have trouble relinquishing control of their classrooms to their students. They are still of the mindset that teachers stand in front of the room and talk at the students.

All in all, I am very excited to be a part of moving schools into the 21st century and beyond. I think that Interactive Whiteboards, Augmented Reality, Google Glass, Gamification, and Personal Learning Environments are just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for classrooms and what kinds of cool gadgets people come up with that will allow me to better teach my students to be great thinkers. I hope to inspire my third grade students with technology we use in the classroom every day so that one of them may grow up to invent the next big technology trend.

References
Briggs, S. (2013, July 16). 10 emerging educational technologies. Retrieved

December 9, 2013, from informED website: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/the-ten-emerging- technologies-in-education-and-how-they-are-being-used-across-the-globe/

Dwyer, D. (1994). Apple classrooms of tomorrow. Realizing the Promise of Technology, 51(7). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational- leadership/apr94/vol51/num07/Apple-Classrooms-of-Tomorrow@-What- We’ve-Learned.aspx

Gamification.org (Ed.). (n.d.). Gamification education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from Gamification Wiki website: http://gamification.org/education

Hamilton, K. (2010, May 28). Augmented reality in education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from SlideShare website: http://www.slideshare.net/kehamilt/augmented-reality-in-education

Heick, T. (2012, August 25). 6 characteristics of tomorrow’s classroom technology. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from TeachThought website: http://www.teachthought.com/technology/6-characteristics-of-tomorrows- classroom-technology/

Kelly, S. M. (2013, August 19). How Google Glass might be used in education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from Mashable website: http://mashable.com/2013/08/19/google-glass-education/

Lu, M. (2013). A Legend Novel: Champion. New York, NY: Putnam.
New Media Consortium (Ed.). (2011). 6 emerging technologies in education.

Retrieved December 9, 2013, from Copy/Paste website: http://www.peterpappas.com/2012/02/infographic-six-emerging- educational-technologies.html/six-emerging-technologies-in-education

Powers, M. (2013, November 6). Seeing the classroom through Google Glass. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from 365daysofglass.com website: https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-11-26-seeing-the-classroom-through- google-glass

Schaaf, R. (2013, October 15). How to use augmented reality in education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from 21st Century Fluency Project website: http://fluency21.com/blog/2013/10/15/how-to-use-augmented-reality-in- education/

Smith, H. J. (2005). Interactive whiteboards: Boon or bandwagon? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21, 91-101. Retrieved from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/spechtp/551/IWB_Boon_Bandwagon.pdf

Walsh, K. (2013, May 5). Moby Max is a proven adaptive learning toolset with differentiated curriculum for K-8 students. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from EmergingEdTech website: http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/05/moby-max-is-a-proven- adaptive-learning-toolset-with-differentiated-curriculum-for-k-8-students/

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