Technology trends

The Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium seeks to identify emerging technology trends that will affect education in both K-12 and higher education. Some of the trends they have identified in reports from 2011 and 2012:

  • Mobile applications. "Mobiles are becoming better understood in the academic world," the report says. "There has been a significant amount of time spent finding creative ways to incorporate them both in the physical space and as a tool to help students learn from a distance.

  • Tablet computing. "As these new devices have become more used and understood, it is clear that they are independent and distinct from other mobile devices," the report says. "¡­They are ideal tools for sharing content, videos, images, and presentations because they are easy for anyone to use, visually compelling, and highly portable."

  • Game-based learning. "Role playing, collaborative problem solving and other forms of simulated experiences are recognized for having broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines," the report says.

  • Learning analytics. The amount of information collected about students and their education provides an opportunity for schools to analyze the data "to improve understandings of teaching and learning, and to tailor education to individual students more effectively."

  • Gesture-based computing. "The idea that natural, comfortable motions can be used to control computers is opening the ways to a host of input devices that look and feel very different from the keyboard and mouse."

Open Access

Technology gives students the opportunity to individualize their learning and pursue knowledge to the extent they want at their own pace. For students of any age seeking to take control of what, how and where they learn, a resource such as the Open CourseWare Consortium is invaluable.

The OCW Consortium consists of more than 250 universities and other organizations worldwide that have made education materials from university-level courses available online for free. The U.S. institutions that are part of the consortium include the University of Michigan; University of California, Irvine; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which began posting content on its MIT OpenCourseWare site 10 years ago.

The MIT program has grown to include materials used in substantially all of its undergraduate and graduate courses¡ªmore than 2,100 in all. More than 100 million people have gone online to use the open courseware, MIT says. It averages 1.75 million website visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories.

Using technology effectively

Project Red, a research initiative that examines how technology can re-engineer the U.S. education system, has identified five keys for using technology in schools to improve learning performance and financial outcomes

  • Personalize learning for all students by frequent, appropriate use of technology in all classrooms and other learning places.

  • Make professional learning and technology training a priority for administrators and teachers.

  • Use technologies such as social media, games and simulations to engage students and encourage collaboration.

  • Use online assessments weekly to gauge student learning and then tailor instruction for personalized learning experiences.

  • Use technology applications daily in intervention programs such as Title I, special education, reading intervention, and English language learner programs.

  • Read the main story, "Education Technology Transformation," to learn how technological advances are giving students more control of their education and changing schools and universities.