Experts share their ed-tech predictions for the new year

“The second prediction is that the student learning revolution will demand a professional development revolution. Technology is changing the way teachers teach and students learn, increasing the demand for effective professional development. In 2012, this demand will intensify, due primarily to a sharp upturn in creative and innovative blended learning opportunities for students occurring in traditional and non-traditional settings. Mirroring the student-centric movement toward highly differentiated instruction and anytime-anywhere learning, technology will revolutionize the way teachers learn, banishing top-down, one-size-fits-all models in favor of highly differentiated, customized, and personalized professional development models driven by teacher needs.”

Gene R. Carter, executive director and CEO of ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)

“The trend I’m most excited about is what a handful of companies are beginning to offer: the ability of third-party formative assessment systems to inform other third-party software application systems as to student learning needs. This portends the automation of individualizing learning experiences for students. This is not taking the place of instruction, but is providing the teacher with an assistant that can fill in knowledge gaps for students and build understanding of concepts to enable the student to continue with whole-class learning.

“While the ‘flipped classroom’ and ‘virtual schools’ and ‘student devices’ and ‘interactive classroom systems’ (necessary for companies who have wrung out all of the profits from their ill-advised interactive whiteboards) may get the hype, it’s the growing understanding of how to help students accelerate their learning as needed that deserves everyone’s efforts and attention.”

Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for technology, Plano Independent School District, Texas

“I make a discouraging prediction: Academic achievement gaps between advantaged children and the various categories of disadvantaged children will grow in coming years, and education policy will be powerless to prevent this.

“A recent Economic Policy Institute analysis suggests the impact of our stagnant employment rate on children’s welfare. Consider, for example, the unusually severe labor market adversity experienced by black families, and how this is likely to affect the black-white achievement gap that receives so much well-deserved attention in education policy.

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