- Digital texts - No, we are not talking about general ebooks, which were popular even half a decade back. A recent Enterasys survey has revealed that, nearly 38 percent of K-12 students have started using digital textbooks instead of traditional paper texts. Ensuring that every child has access to the same quality devices to read these digital resources is still tricky, but definite progress is being made in this realm.
- Involvement in social media - Sites like Facebook and MySpace have ceased to be mere social media platforms for casual chitchat and status updates. Instructors are encouraging teenage kids to show off their creative side on these websites (for instance, writing an engaging note, and sharing it with friends). Thanks to social media interactions, the virtual distance between teachers and students has also diminished.
- Increasing use of tablets and smartphones - There is a host of learning apps for kids currently available through online stores - and most of them are ideal to complement classroom studies. Even preschoolers are now encouraged to use tablets - a far cry from the days when no one except adults owned a mobile phone. The ‘BYOD’ (Bring Your Own Device) trend is catching on in the education sector too, further fueling the need of young kids to own internet-enabled handheld devices.
- Open Online Courses - Alternatively known as Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), they are the new in-thing in the field of distance-learning. Thanks to the rapidly evolving internet technologies, enrolling for such courses is easy, and getting the necessary texts and reference material is (mostly) a breeze as well. Almost all of these online courses offer valid certifications - which boost the career prospects of students.
- Implementation of learning analytic systems - To rule out subjectivity and arbitrariness in assessing a student’s progress, learning analytics are currently very much in vogue. These systems generate reports based on in-depth data mining, and can also highlight the points of difficulty that any K-12 or senior student might be facing. Teachers can get a fairly reliable forecast about the academic performance of students in future as well, with the help of learning analytics systems.
- Importance of video learning has increased - By the end of 2013, almost 47 per cent of teachers worldwide were reported to be using video presentations in classrooms. The technique has evidently caught on with students, with approximately one out of every four of them accessing the same videos on their own later. With techniques of Android and iPhone application development in India and abroad evolving rapidly, accessing these instructive videos on the go is incredibly easy.
- 3D Design - Three-dimensional sketches and prints are no longer solely relevant for budding architects. At many schools around the globe, teachers arrange for 3D marker-spaces, where students can create designs and shapes according to their wishes and expertise. There are quite a few advanced mobile apps for kids for the same purpose as well. Engineers were already dependant on 3D printers - and now, these tools are finding acceptance in general drawing classes as well.
- Inclusion of interactive gaming methods in academic courses - Education, particularly at a junior level, is no longer about spending six-eight hours at school - with fat textbooks covering the desks of students. Contemporary teachers often recommend online gaming tools and engaging storytelling apps for kids - which have an interesting blend of entertainment and education. The focus on coming up with instructive mobile and PC games for students has increased. New-age teaching methods are never boring!
- The move towards flipped classrooms - Beginning to take off in schools and colleges, this is one trend that is likely to continue growing throughout 2014 and beyond. A ‘flipped classroom’ is all about inverting the established conventions of education - with lessons being provided to students through online videos at their homes, while the so-called ‘homework’ has to be done in class. Pupils have the option to interact with instructors either online, or at the classroom. Once students and teachers become familiar with this innovative teaching method, flipped classrooms might just become the norm.
- Increasing diversification of technology-based devices - Even a couple of years back, PCs and smartphones were probably the only popular education technology tools. Times have changed though, and both tutors and students have realized the importance of using different tools for separate learning-related purposes. College-goers often prefer taking notes on their handsets, mobile whiteboards are becoming common in classrooms, and every other kid owns an ebook reader - for perusing digital texts. Every aspect of education can be aided by technology, and there are custom tools and devices for all requirements.
Ross Smythe is the chief concept developer at Teknowledge Mobile Studio. He regularly writes on the web, especially in regards to education technology.