96 edtech predictions for K12 in 2019

What edtech innovations can you anticipate this year?

We asked 49 edtech executives to look into their crystal balls and share their thoughts about what will happen in 2019. In addition to the usual suspects—more augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps—a lot of people believe this will be the year that social emotional learning (SEL) and interoperability become part of the mainstream. There are also a lot of predictions about improving safety and security. Read on to see what’s in store for 2019…

Berj Akian, CEO, ClassLink

• With 2019 here and 2020 in arm’s reach, there’s an ever-growing expectation that next-generation tech tools should do a better job of informing educators on which resources improve learning outcomes. I’m pleased to say that more and more education leaders and technology products providers are regularly talking and doing something about this. I hope this topic always remains the main problem to solve, and that the slow, steady progress the industry is making continues.

•  The industry has made loads of good progress on interoperability; now it’s on the mind of all educational leaders. This is a good thing, because it will take motivation from all sides to achieve simpler data connections between systems. The only wrinkle I see in the land of interoperability is that the conversation is still too complicated, and school leaders still don’t have a go-to resource that helps them translate the techno-babble of open data standards into plain English. What the industry needs is a place where interoperability can be discussed and advocated without complicated jargon and a standards bias—maybe a “Church of Interoperability” that’s open to all. I see Project Unicorn possibly filling this role. They see the bigger picture and nicely bridge the tech and curriculum sides of the discussion.

Chakrapani Appalabattula, CEO, Bloomz

• In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in parental engagement that can be correlated to the implementation of digital platforms and applications. School-to-home communications has evolved through three phases. Student information systems and automated messages are what I consider to be the first stage in the evolution of parental engagement, or version 1.0. With the next stage, 2.0, came a myriad of apps, each designed to solve one problem really well. And now, I believe we are entering a new stage of “one-stop shop” solutions. As schools are adopting and using more digital tools, they are looking for solutions that not only consolidate functions to reduce the risks of privacy or security failure, avoid confusion among teachers and parents, and also better connect and engage school communities. We are already seeing the evidence of this, as administrators are taking a more active role in parent-teacher communication, ensuring that stakeholders are able to engage via their preferred method through one simple-to-use, safe platform. Additionally, educators swear that their parents are showing up more prepared for conferences and more in tune with their child’s education than ever before. As we gain further insight into teacher, parent, and student communication needs, interaction between school and home will become more commonplace and more frequent.

Dr. Becky A. Bailey, educator, author, and founder, Conscious Discipline 

• School leaders and personnel will take a more active role in addressing the emotional toll of safety procedures like lockdown drills, and in building community as a vital safety measure in schools. Creating a learning community that nurtures emotional safety, connection, and inclusion provides fewer opportunities for the growth of the “outsider mentality” that often ends in violence, and will emerge as an essential tool for school security.

• SEL will begin to affect school culture from the top-down, bringing about change in adults first and students second. In 2019, administrators and educators will gain a broader awareness of the internal growth and consistency required for adults to transfer SEL skills to students. As a result, greater value will be placed on SEL providers who bring longevity, proven results, practical tools, and adult-first approaches to the table. Recent years have brought about a surge of new SEL players, and many educators have scrambled to put new programs in place. Progressive leaders will emerge by acknowledging that successful SEL requires a perceptual shift from school leadership and staff, and also by discouraging midstream changes in favor of long-term personal growth. Educators will prioritize SEL over technology controls as cyberbullying deterrents. This more comprehensive understanding of social-emotional health will spur schools to prioritize SEL as a foundational response and technology monitoring as a complimentary (but secondary) facet of student wellness and safety. As a result, both physical bullying and cyberbullying will decrease in schools that prioritize meaningful connections, inclusion and emotional regulation.

Kevin Baird, chief academic officer, Achieve3000; chair, Center for College & Career Readiness 

• Districts will increase their focus on collaborative environments and collaborative tasks for basic literacy development.

• Neuroscience, and the measurement of emotional immersion, will become a key innovation and a new precision metric of student engagement. As a result, districts will recognize that student “Net Promoter Scores” (a measurement of customer experience) are more reliable and valid indicators of program excellence and student learning outcomes than standardized tests.

• Districts will start to focus on speaking and listening protocols before, during, and after reading to accelerate vocabulary acquisition for fluency.

Dr. Carolyn Brown, president and co-founder, Foundations in Learning

• New players in the education market will focus on models of learning rather than methods of teaching. The continuing failure to meet the needs of a growing number of students will demand different approaches and practices taught in Colleges of Education. Focusing on how students learn rather than what they learn will eventually lead to changes in conceptual frameworks of “teaching” and instructional practices. As this movement gains traction, formative assessment tools will become critically important to the iterative process of maximizing the learning environment and customizing instruction to meet students’ needs.

• Principles of learning that are emerging from cognitive science will begin to infiltrate the education space. Integrating principles of learning into instructional classroom practices will challenge traditional thinking; however, there will be early adopters who will be willing to test new approaches—especially to help their most challenged learners. Data analytics embedded within instructional tools (not just digital renditions of content) will inform the process of change.

• Teachers will gravitate towards educational solutions that engage their students in meaningful social-emotional contexts. While technology can play an important role in targeting student needs, students and teachers are welcoming the re-emergence of meaningful interactions in the classroom. Consequently, technology will find its place to support rather than supplant student engagement through personal interactions with both peers and teachers.

Jacob Bruno, vice president of professional learning, NWEA

• More personalized professional development (PD), driven by data. We are seeing schools and districts starting to be more creative and collaborative with PD, expanding beyond school-wide workshops to include professional learning that recognizes the existing competencies and knowledge base individual educators bring to their work. Contributing to this trend is the growing use of data to encourage inquiry and dialogue in collaborative learning communities that build collective teacher efficacy. As such, we are going to see an increased focus on PD that facilitates assessment literacy, fosters active professional learning communities, and supports teachers in developing formative instructional practices.

Jamie Candee, CEO, Edmentum

• The trend of schools implementing adaptive and digital experiences will continue and increase in 2019. Advancements in data science will provide valuable information about how students learn and help educators individualize instruction—the ability to adapt and curate curriculum will be the new core curriculum. By better understanding what students know, educators will be better able to measure growth, predict performance, and make informed decisions about which curricular resources and instructional activities best fit the needs of their students. Soon the days of core, supplemental, and intervention will essentially merge as technology that gives educators the ability to curate the right curriculum for each student.

• The amount of data that is in educators’ hands can be overwhelming. While data is a powerful accelerator, data-tracking systems often operate separately from one another, leading to frustration and roadblocks. In 2019 and beyond, interoperability will be an extremely important point of emphasis for edtech leaders. At the end of the day, our role is to save educators time—not make their jobs more difficult.

• As personal technologies become more engaging and interactive, learning systems have to as well. I’m extremely excited about the opportunity that augmented reality (AR) and VR activities bring learners. AR and VR can engage and excite learning while simultaneously breaking down traditional barriers of accessibility. Imagine a student experiencing the Louvre for the first time in an art appreciation course.

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