96 edtech predictions for K12 in 2019

What edtech innovations can you anticipate this year?

Susan Liu, edtech program manager, LEAP Innovations

• With the growing adoption of personalized learning models among schools, SEL has been embraced as part of a whole-child approach to supporting the student. While there is a growing number of SEL-specific products on the market, in 2019 we expect to see more integration of SEL into core curriculum and the digital technologies that support academic instruction. Expect to see more math, science, and ELA products that incorporate non-cognitive skill development like goal-setting, time for reflection, and encouragement to struggle through a problem in order to arrive at the correct answer.

• Over the last year, I have observed more teacher-facing tools attempting to ease educators’ time and operational burdens by helping them to grade, interpret student data, roster their classes, connect with families, and even access PD opportunities. I see this as a positive development; these kinds of technologies free up teacher time to focus on building individual relationships with students and imparting higher-order thinking skills.

• 2018 raised a number of legitimate questions around the impact of technology: How much is too much screen time? What impact does tech have on a student’s physical activity? I expect to see tech respond in 2019, with a rise in school-facing tools that get kids physically moving, like the adoption of fitness trackers, or enable the benefits of adaptive tech without screen time, like programming robots that encourage students to spend less time coding on screens and more time interacting with physical robots.

Vinod Lobo, co-founder and CEO, Learning Upgrade

• Schools will realize that traditional, web-based home learning is out of reach for many low-income families. With more than 80 percent of low-income families owning a smartphone, the focus will turn to smartphone app-based learning for children that parents can facilitate. This will level the playing field much more than previous attempts such as take-home laptops, because parent smartphones have data plans for internet access and don’t cost the school anything.

• As schools have increasingly large sets of student data, there will be a greater focus on using AI to analyze the results and make predictions on outcomes such a dropouts and failing classes. Schools will start to experiment with programs that can inform staff of students who need special attention, but—given that the programs use machine learning—many issues will arise from its use.

• With 36 million adults in the U.S. reading at or below 3rd-grade level, schools need to help low-literate parents to learn in order to create the environment for their children to succeed. Schools will increasingly enroll both parents and children in learning programs that can be completed on multiple devices. This trend will be focused especially on ESL families, including migrant families, refugees, and new arrivals.

Natalie Mactier, CEO, Vivi

• We believe that in 2019 and beyond, schools will shift focus away from hardening campuses against security threats and more toward softer solutions, like emergency notification systems that can be triggered by anyone from any device. Student safety will remain paramount, of course, but schools will increasingly look for more holistic solutions that don’t turn the classroom into a fortress.

• The ability for teachers to monitor and respond to their students’ well-being and immediate academic needs will increase in the coming months and years. In the past, teachers were pinned to the front of the classroom next to the whiteboard or projector, but increasingly, technology is unleashing them to roam around the room and check in on their students, whether it be to make sure they have a firm grasp of the lesson or simply to make sure they feel good about the activity they’re engaged in. This move from teachers as the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side” is already well under way in many schools and districts, but as the technology enabling this new model improves and the benefits become ever more undeniable, we’ll see schools moving faster in that direction.

Jason Meyer, group product manager, projectors, Epson America, Inc.

• Technology in the classroom is no longer about any particular piece of equipment. Instead, it is about finding solutions, such as student devices, large-format projection, and wireless networks that work seamlessly together to improve productivity, interactivity, and access to information. Hands-on interactivity will continue to be a focus for elementary schools and the need for wireless connectivity focused on collaboration and sharing will continue to expand in the higher grades.

Chris Minnich, CEO, NWEA

• In 2019 we will begin to see a much-needed shift in the modes used to rate school performance—away from an over-reliance on achievement scores to a recognition of the relevance of academic growth. In addition to weighting growth more heavily, more education leaders will recognize that growth is about more than a change in summative test performance over time—it’s about how much students learn from fall to spring, regardless of achievement level. This approach to measuring growth provides a more accurate picture of school performance and reduces bias against educators and schools that serve students in diverse, high-poverty communities. Recent research on the relationship between poverty and school performance supports this notion, revealing that many high-poverty schools with low achievement are at the same time producing average or better growth. The move toward a deeper understanding of growth will lead to better differentiation between schools with low achievement and high rates of growth and those with low achievement and little growth. This will, in turn, ensure that the schools most in need of support get it, and those that are accelerating student progress are recognized.

Cindy Moss, vice president of global STEM initiatives, Discovery Education

• In 2019, momentum for creating cultures of STEM education in school systems will accelerate, producing students even better prepared for college and careers. In 2018, in a number of districts, teachers, administrators, and community stakeholders began working collaboratively to create powerful STEM learning environments. These STEM learning environments feature cutting-edge, web-based digital resources that help students develop the creative, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills they need and include real-world challenges, career connections, and hands-on activities. To support the use of these resources, these school districts initiated sustained, job-embedded professional learning initiatives. In the coming year, I believe the effort to build cultures of STEM will accelerate. As the success of the districts that have been using this approach grows and as the need to change the way we prepare the workforce of the future becomes even more apparent, the “Culture of STEM” movement will become much more prevalent.

Mike Nesterak, senior director of product innovation, NWEA

• In the coming year, we will see more research into how new technologies, such as AR, speech recognition, automatic scoring, and artificial intelligence can create opportunities for more precise measurement, deeper insights, and more personalized learning. Additionally, we will start to experience migration towards individualization of assessment, where students are assessed on particular skill sets, rather than at the average level of the class.

Erez Pikar, CEO, CDI

• Educational organizations are moving their administrative and teaching applications as well as user data off premises. This trend will impact a variety of technology decisions in the future, from shrinking data-center requirements to different needs for end-user devices. Moving to SaaS-based applications and storing user data in the cloud will mean different security requirements and concerns, and the necessity of a robust infrastructure to support the increase in data traffic.

• The popularity of technologies that truly impact student engagement will grow exponentially. Whether it is a teaching tool that uses VR or AR, robotics, or a gaming-based educational tool, technologies that instigate student engagement will be high-demand solutions in the future. This trend is a result of the instructional staff becoming an integral part of technology decisions. Today, educators’ priorities are deploying technologies that will allow them to improve student engagement and that result in improved learning outcomes. The introduction of affordable solutions that truly change the way tech is used in the classroom is driving this trend. The growing focus on STEM and STEAM as a critical part of the curriculum are also contributing factors.

• The old tombstone-like classroom setup no longer meets today’s teaching needs. Educators are breaking away from traditional classroom layouts and finding new approaches to make their classrooms more conducive to 21st-century learning, where collaboration, personalization, and project-based instruction are becoming the norm. This means flexible, modular furnishings and mobile technology. The blackboard/whiteboard is no longer a fixture at the front of the room. Large-format interactive flat panels on carts that allow them to be used anywhere in the classroom are replacing the blackboard (or attached interactive whiteboards). These flexible classroom setups allow the introduction of new technologies and teaching techniques.

Adam Pisoni, founder, Abl Schools

• Equity is the new personalized learning and will be the new big focus for districts in 2019. It’s not that personalized learning is going away, but we’re continuing to find that the assumption that personalized learning will solve problems around equity isn’t panning out. Personalized learning is one important tool in broader efforts to improve equity for students.

• Increased focus on how issues outside the classroom (e.g., school operations) impact student outcomes and experience. It’s the natural continuation of a trend. Fifteen years ago, there was a narrow focus on math and reading in the classroom which expanded to general classroom experience (like SEL). The next step is realizing that the many decisions made outside the classroom can have just as much of an impact as what goes on inside.

• Meeting the needs of immigrant families. Schools will seek new ways to personalize instruction for an increasing number of students arriving to the public education system with limited English proficiency and large breaks in schooling, and to engage with LEP parents.

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