EdTech is a constantly evolving field. There are new gizmos, gadgets, and trends in pedagogy happening all the time. This guide represents a very superficial view of the current landscape in EdTech. Disagree? Let us know below.
Disclaimer: Just because an item is in one category or another does not constitute an evaluative statement. We are fully aware that being popular or not is very much not an indication of its educational value.
- The Maker Movement
- The Maker Movement is all about DIY: do-it-yourself. Instead of working with prefabricated tools and toys, you make them yourself. With the proliferation of cheaper, easier-to-learn 3D printers, robots, and small computers (like Raspberry Pi), innovative educators have been looking toward teaching engineering, design, programming, and entrepreneurship through maker projects or maker classes. The goal of this movement is to inspire students to be self-started inventors that can identify problems and fabricate solutions themselves.
- Augmented Reality
- The other AR of Education (the other being Accelerated Reader), augmented reality is about providing an extra layer of interaction with technology. Using a variety of different apps and programs (Aurasma is a popular example), students can interact with 3D overlays projected on top of real-time camera feeds. Using a tablet or phone with a camera, you can explore the body's nervous system or join Chemistry blocks together to see what substance is formed.
- 3D Printing
- 3D Printing goes hand-in-hand with the Maker Movement. Schools are using 3D printers not only to create useful classroom tools (what better way to demonstrate the human brain than by printing one yourself?) but also to teach students about 3D modeling and engineering. A STEM class or school can't be STEM without a 3D printer.
- "California Standards"
- This is less EdTech but general Ed, but Common Core standards is no longer the official moniker of the new set of standards that are rolling through education right now. In an effort to distance the standards from the political melee that Common Core standards have become, the state has officially rebranded them as the new "California Standards." It'll take a while for this new nomenclature to take root, however.
- Games are nothing new to education. Teachers have been using games to engage students since pick-up sticks and Jacks (and probably earlier than that, too). However, they weren't nearly as easily customizable as they are now, with services like Kahoot or Quizizz storming through the edSphere. Even traditional PC games are getting Ed-friendly after the runaway success of Minecraft Edu. At its core, gamification is quite simple: using competition and goal-oriented games to propel learning.
- Google Classroom
- Haiku, Moodle, and Blackboard are just a few of the many LMS's (Learning Management Systems) that compete in this very crowded space. Nevertheless, since its launch last summer, Google Classroom has become a very popular alternative for schools that are already GAFEd (Google Apps for Education). It doesn't have the features and tools of some of the more popular LMS's, but it's free, it's integrated with Google Docs, and Google seems to be continually adding features to it, such as adding Co-Teacher functionality a few months ago.
- The Flipped Classroom
- Flipping the Classroom has its roots in a problem that many educators face: students not doing or not getting much out of traditional homework. The solution is to flip the homework model. Instead of introducing things in class and reinforcing at home, students learn basic concepts at home and reinforce them with the teacher's help in the classroom. 1:1 Initiatives and easier access to video services specifically tailored to this need (Educanon, EdPuzzle) have made flipping the classroom a much more viable strategy than even just a few years ago.
- 1:1 Initiatives
- Despite public concerns after seeing some 1:1 efforts crash and burn (see: LAUSD), 1:1 efforts are popping up around the county with inexpensive Chromebooks and cheaper tablets helping ease the financial burden. Many districts also began to phase in student technology in the past few years and are now reaching 1:1 numbers.
What's On The Way Out
- Common Core State Standards
- By name only. The Common Core standards are still here, they're just now referred to as the "California Standards" for various political reasons.
- BYOD isn't dead, but as personal devices come down in price and schools try to grapple with the challenges of supporting many different device platforms, the BYOD movement is slowly losing steam. It's seemingly simpler, easier, and more effective to manage and acquire a single platform for devices for students.
- SMARTBoards and Document Cameras
- SMARTBoards and their competitors are losing the caché they had a few years ago, just like ELMO's and document cameras. There are still a great many classrooms without basic projectors (mounted or not), speakers, and doc cameras, but there is not as much drive to supply teachers with this technology. The current trends are for buying projectors with AppleTV's or student devices such as Chromebooks, iPads, or other tablets or personal devices. This particular trend is a little sad because it means less investment in basic teacher technology.
- Laptops and Netbooks
- The arrival of the Chromebook was a nuclear bomb for the Laptop and Netbook manufacturers. When presented with a $700 laptop or a $250 Chromebook, many school districts completely discount even considering buying laptops, let alone their smaller stepchildren, netbooks. Laptops are still going strong in the general consumer market and for teachers, but gone are the days where students aspire to get brand new shiny Dells. One exception to this trend has been the Macbook Air which has maintained strong popularity in the Ed arena due to its smaller form, lower price, Apple allure, and compatibility with AppleTVs.