What edtech trends will take top billing in schools and districts in the new year, like this crystal ball with predictions for 2020.

20 K-12 edtech predictions for 2020


What edtech trends will take top billing in schools and districts in the new year?

Umang Jain, Co-Founder, Splash Math:

• We often discuss AI in terms of how it may take over jobs. Teachers cannot be replaced by AI anytime soon. AI helps to teach many different topics and concepts and it does have a space in education but in the sense that it is helping the teacher focus on different kinds of lessons. AI can’t teach emotional intelligence, but teachers can. I think the role of the teacher is changing and, ultimately, AI is enabling this change.

• I feel it’s early for kids to be using AR and VR. That’s not to say that AR and VR aren’t useful tools, they can help children better interact with tools like shapes and maps. But right now, they’re neither accessible nor convenient to use. In maybe 3 to 5 years, this technology will become more accessible but it’s unlikely to change much in the coming year. AR and VR are unlikely to change but voice search will become a bigger tool for education in the coming year. About 50 percent of all searches are voice search already and I think it’s definitely going to move into the kid’s space, giving them the ability to interact with devices through touch and voice, which is beneficial as children tend to learn best when they can utilize both.

• In the next couple of years, we’ll see privacy laws become not only stricter, but more strictly enforced. When products target children, there’s going to have to be a change in how those companies use their data. We have strict laws now but there are many companies that are not compliant. As more leaks have become public conversation and more parents are demanding a change in how their kids’ information is handled, there will likely have to be a change in how companies are held accountable.

Todd Miller, COO, Rave Mobile Safety:

• Schools, law enforcement, and 9-1-1 will continue to seek more interoperability: When an emergency occurs at a school, many stakeholders need to be notified and in contact with each other right away, both internally and externally. The open flow of information keeps everyone up-to-date on the latest details and provides the best possible outcome for everyone involved. In the next year, more schools will work closely with law enforcement and 9-1-1 to collaborate on safety and communication plans and ensure lines of communication are open. We’ll see an adoption of more technologies that allow schools to communicate with their staff and law enforcement agencies, as well as allow agencies to be able to better communicate across stakeholders.

Chris Minnich, CEO, NWEA:

• In 2020 we will see a continued shift in assessment that drives new innovation in both how we assess students and how we use the data that results from assessments. As the concern around overtesting grows, we will see more states and districts challenge the need for the traditional “end of year” summative test, and develop more innovative approaches that better meet the needs of their schools. Parents and educators are looking for an integrated system that connects assessment, curriculum and intervention to create a solution that provides a complete picture of a student’s academic health, as well as a complete view of a school’s overall performance. These solutions not only reduce testing time overall, but also integrate assessment part of the instructional plan to produce more actionable data that informs what matters in terms of making progress. This trend toward innovation is critical to creating equity in both opportunity and outcomes for all students – so every young person leaves school ready to succeed.

• As our knowledge around the importance of educating the whole child grows, we’ll see education go beyond the traditional academic subjects and look at other factors involved in the overall success of a child. Things like social-emotional learning (SEL) and how it affects a child’s readiness for adulthood. This will raise critical questions in the educational field, regarding how we can formally incorporate social-emotional learning, and how can we assess the effectiveness of any program or practice that focuses on SEL.

Mike Nesterak, Sr. Director of the Product Innovation Center, NWEA:

• In the coming year, we will see many exciting developments in the use of advanced technologies in education, particularly in testing and assessment, which will enable schools to assess students on a deeper, more personalized level. We will see growth in conversational computing and the use of avatars such as Alexa and Siri, which will allow students to be assessed in a more Socratic way by asking and answering questions to demonstrate thought patterns in solving more complex problems; as well as increased focus on using augmented and virtual reality to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of concepts that are difficult to measure on traditional tests. The assessment space will also continue to increase its use of gaming designs to help boost student engagement and enable the measurement of higher order thinking skills; and will expand its use of mobile apps that can be used to assess students during the instructional process instead of after a unit of instruction. Lastly, there will be more emphasis on the teaching and assessment of coding skills, which will be assessed both in isolation and in conjunction with other constructs such as math and science.

Adam Pearson and Nicole Pezent, Co-Founders, Glimpse K12:

• eROI (Education Return on Investment) measurement becomes a must-have. Personalizing Learning for all learners and the transient nature of our society makes eROI an essential tool to meet the diverse needs of the population.

• eROI will inform prioritization of school spend. Instead of buying products for teachers and students based on trend, whether that be SEL, Assessment Scores, or Personalized Learning, schools will be buying resources based on what has demonstrated the biggest impact for their students and staff.

• The diversity of tools and resources available to educators these days makes it nearly impossible to keep track of what is truly driving student achievement. Capturing the variety of tools and resources and aligning them with goals and objectives via eROI processes will illuminate what activities working for students and what activities are distractors.

• After years of investing in technology tools and resources, schools are interested in seeing what effect they really have on student achievement. This year will be critical for measuring that impact.

• Schools will invest more in cybersecurity products to protect against ransomware attacks. 2019 was a difficult year for districts who faced threats from hackers gaining access to students’ personal data. 2020 will be the year districts will have to step up and protect their students’ information to prevent attacks. This fact will divert critical funds from the classroom to infrastructure. eROI will help soften this blow through helping schools optimize the impact of every dollar spent in the classroom.

Aaliyah Samuel, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, NWEA:

• In 2020 we hope to see more desegregation, integration, and inclusion for our students that have been labeled at risk, which will be driven by data. In the past 20 years researchers have used big data to illustrate the systemic inequities in education that are rooted in social and economic inequality. As such, it is critical that researchers and policymakers question the tests, measures, and data we are using to hold our systems accountable to improving equity in opportunity and outcomes. Are the measures we implement identifying or perpetuating inequity in education? If so, what are we doing with those data to strategically move towards advancing and sustaining equitable systems. If not, why are we still using them? In the coming year, we will see more educators and policymakers doing a deeper dive into assessment data and how we use it to tackle the issue of access to high quality early learning opportunities. Are these data explaining something about the barriers in our education system, if not why are we using it, if so, what can we do next?

• In the coming year we will see a greater push for more data on children entering kindergarten to gain a better understanding of where students are upon school entry, and the impact of early childhood settings on students’ K-12 achievement. Universal pre-K continues to gain steam nationwide as cities such as New York City tout success with their pre-K initiatives, but what does universal pre-K look like, how do we ensure access for all students, and how do we measure the impact? Because most school-age children are not formally assessed until third grade, we currently do not have much data on those critical early years and how pre-K may impact school readiness and narrow the achievement gap.

Hilary Scharton, Vice President of Product Strategy K-12, Canvas:

• As mental health issues receive increased focus, more districts will adopt Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into their standard curriculum.

• 2019 saw a swell of educator involvement in politics, and I think we’ll continue to hear teachers’ voices loud and clear in 2020 on important topics like equity, teacher pay, and public support.

• Cybersecurity will continue to be a priority. Hundreds of schools were hit with cyber-attacks including ransomware and phishing this year, so we predict that more districts will demand higher data security.

• Schools and districts will cast a more critical eye on spending in 2020. Uncertainty about the global economic outlook and increased transparency into spending will encourage decision-makers to chuck out technologies that aren’t delivering real student benefits, and double down on those that are.

Laura Ascione

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