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18 edtech developments set to impact schools

Annual report documents how different ed-tech trends and challenges shape K-12 education

Coding as a literacy and the rise of STEAM learning are two key trends driving K-12 technology adoption for the next 1-2 years, according to the latest New Media Consortium and CoSN Horizon Report.

The report is organized into 6 key trends, 6 significant challenges, and 6 developments in edtech that are going to impact K-12 teaching, learning and creative inquiry.

Overall, the report series tracks the five-year impact that innovative practices and new technologies have on K-12 education.

In addition to coding and STEAM, the four other trends set to impact K-12 teaching and learning include a growing focus on measuring learning, redesigning learning spaces (both driving technology adoption for the next 3-5 years), along with advancing cultures of innovation and deeper learning approaching (driving technology adoption for 5 or more years).

(Next page: The top 6 challenges to K-12 technology adoption)

Challenges impeding K-12 technology adoption are grouped according to level. Solvable challenges are those that we understand and know how to solve; difficult challenges are those we understand but for which solutions remain elusive; and wicked challenges, which are complex to define, much less address.

Solvable challenges:

  • Authentic learning experiences
  • Improving digital literacy

Difficult challenges:

  • Rethinking the roles of teachers
  • Teaching computational thinking


  • The achievement gap
  • Sustaining innovation through leadership changes

Important developments in educational technology include makerspaces and robotics (both with a time-to-adoption of 1 year or less), analytics technologies and virtual reality (both with a time-to-adoption of 2-3 years), and artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (both with a time-to-adoption of 4-5 years).

“This report documents the exponential change and incredible learning opportunities that new technologies are producing in our digital world — some are calling it the 4th Industrial Revolution,” says Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium of School Networking. “We are proud to again partner with NMC on this essential, ‘must-read’ report and accompanying toolkit. Educational leaders should use these new tools to start the conversation around what learning should look like that prepares students for today and tomorrow.”

Each of the report’s 18 topics fit into one or more of six meta-categories that reflect movements in K-12 education, the report’s introduction explains. Those meta-categories, also reflected in the higher-ed version of the report, include expanding access and convenience; spurring innovation; fostering authentic learning; tracking and evaluating evidence; improving the teaching profession; and spreading digital fluency.

“The trends, challenges, and developments in edtech taken in context with one another strengthens our vision for future pedagogical applications of technology for learning,” said NMC’s Executive Director, Eden Dahlstrom. “NMC’s Horizon work accelerates turning the promise of technology into engaging and meaningful practice.”

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Laura Ascione

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