20 K-12 edtech predictions for 2020

We asked edtech executives, stakeholders, and experts to share some of their thoughts and predictions about where they think edtech is headed in 2020.

Social-emotional learning will remain a big focus, along with edtech driving personalized learning experiences and the growing potential of artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

Related content: Innovation tips from pioneering schools…Read More

5 ways to use AR and VR in the classroom

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are the new hot trends in education. But what does that mean and how is it going to benefit our students? AR superimposes information on our world through the use of a device; VR—a computer-generated environment in which we can interact and be immersed—is typically done with VR goggles and allows you to see a different world or space with 360-degree vision. These new tools may seem futuristic, but we are already living in the world of AR and VR.

Sometimes, technology is a cool factor. This is not a bad thing if the cool factor encourages students to follow their passion for learning or leads a student to a more innovative environment, but we need to keep technology’s instructional benefits at the forefront of our searches. Educators need to look at both AR and VR with a critical eye. We need to discover how this technology can help educate our students. We need to examine the use of this tech and know that we are not just endorsing a cool tool, but rather we are discovering new and innovative means to support our students’ learning.

The benefits of AR & VR are …?

Let’s consider some benefits of these trends. For starters, VR can totally immerse you in another location, another reality. What if we could place the students inside a cell for a science class, or on the road in ancient Rome while reading Julius Caesar? What if we could have students working in a virtual science lab using virtual chemicals that would react according to their natural elements? Talk about an experience like no other!…Read More

Check out these 10 AR apps for your classroom—coding not required

For teachers who have always wanted to use augmented reality (AR)—tech that overlays content on top of the real world—but haven’t had the chance to explore it, Jaime Donally has heard you. In her presentation “Creating Classroom Content in Augmented Reality,” she gave attendees some inside help on which apps to use in the classroom. With programs ranging from beginner level to current AR practitioners, she offered 10 apps that can help educators get started with no coding skills needed.

The best AR apps for your classroom

1. Curiscope 

Using the Virtuali-Tee (a t-shirt with code embedded on it) and the company’s app, students can take an in-depth look at the human body. They can explore the body’s systems and get a deeper understanding of anatomy.

2. Experience Real History (ERH)

Starting with the Alamo in 1836, ERH uses cards and Reality Boards, in addition to the app, to let users get insights into history. The cards feature individuals from the time period, and when two cards are viewed through the app, students learn how the individuals interacted.…Read More

96 edtech predictions for K12 in 2019

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.…Read More

Why our district is investing in AI, AR, VR, and MR

For most of our students, it’s hard to imagine communicating without email or text message. The number of ways our students learn, share, and communicate has grown exponentially in the last few years. Each generation has sought to make the transfer of information faster and more efficient than the generation before them, but the world today is changing at a faster and more immediate pace than at any time in our history.

New technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Expeditions and Pioneer programs will be the next generation’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Voice technology allows for screen-free interactions and gives students much-needed life-skills practice in the areas of forming questions and focused listening. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) enables students to learn by doing, which increases student engagement, helps with retention, and enhances learning outcomes.

The power of Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI-powered, voice-controlled digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa have made their way into millions of living rooms but are just now being used in some classrooms. Unfortunately, a steady supply of misinformation and misunderstanding in the news media has made school leaders turn their backs on what may be the most cost-effective classroom technology of the last half-century.…Read More

Immersive technology: Asset to the classroom or another tech fad?

Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality—can immersive technology really benefit students and their learning, or are these just tech fads? In their recent edWebinar, Jaime Donally, author, speaker, and edtech consultant, and Michelle Luhtala, library department chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut, explained that although these technologies aren’t the answer to everything, they are transforming learning and will continue to do so going forward. In addition, while the thought of using these tools can be exciting, schools need to first plan for successful integration into the classroom and curriculum.

First, Donally and Luhtala started by distinguishing the three types of immersive technology. AR takes a view of the real world and enhances it with something digital, while VR is a completely digital experience with no views of the real world. Donally added that having a viewer isn’t always necessary to experience virtual reality; a device on its own can be used too. Last, mixed reality combines augmented and virtual reality, having digital objects interact with objects in a view of the real world. When it comes down to it, Donally noted, it’s not as important to know which experience equals which kind of immersive technology, just that immersive technology is taking strides to be more functional for learning.

Students are using immersive technology to collaborate with each other in ways that are no longer limited by geographic areas or language barriers. In addition to improved collaboration, these tools can help build empathy. Students can experience anything from being in the position of an individual with autism or right in the middle of a hurricane. Schools can even use immersive technology for enhanced safety training and emergency preparedness. And looking toward the future, immersive technology is paving the way for learning in completely virtual classrooms. “360 environments are our future,” said Donally. “The way that we want to interact with people should be the way we interact normally without that technology. We’re seeing a transition into something that feels more realistic in that way.”…Read More

How wearables, AR, and VR help students to develop SEL skills (part 2)

In my previous post, “How wearables, AR, and VR help students develop SEL skills (part 1),” I explored the ways in which wearables, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) show promise in helping to cultivate social-emotional skills. All three technologies have been greeted with excitement by both the consumer market and many education stakeholders. While these technologies have great potential to support learning in new and novel ways, it is not a given that they will live up to the anticipation surrounding them. As expectations continue to build, educators can begin thinking through the various ways that they might be employed most effectively for learning.

KnowledgeWorks’ strategic foresight publication, Leveraging Digital Depth for Responsive Learning Environments: Future Prospects for Wearables, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality, explores how wearables, AR, and VR might be used to create responsive learning environments that can help with the cultivation of social-emotional skills. The publication proposes that educators think about possible uses of wearables, AR, and VR by first considering the types of environments these technologies can create and how they might support student learning. To help educators think about possibilities for these technologies in learning the paper presents a framework called the digital depth spectrum which consists of three kinds of spaces:

  • Enhanced physical spaces alter the physical world by applying a thin layer digital information capture, sharing, and feedback.
  • Hybrid spaces use multiple digital layers and more extensive computer-generated content, connectivity, and experiences to enable experiences that have a higher degree of digital immersion but which are still anchored in physical space.
  • Fully digital spaces provide full immersion in digitally created environments with little reference to physical space.
…Read More

4 ways AR/VR can transform your lesson plan

The post-1990’s generation, Gen Z, doesn’t remember a world without digital technology. In fact, the children of millennials, born after 2010, are sometimes described as Generation Alpha. They are poised to be the most tech-savvy demographic to date, with a pathway to success that is largely shaped by video, e-books, podcasts, voice command, and the advent of virtual reality (VR) headsets and augmented reality (AR).

As our business and personal lives increasingly merge with the digital environment, the progression to a more technologically focused model in the classroom is gaining momentum. This trend is reflected in the growing demand for VR and AR applications as equipment becomes cheaper and easier to use while proving its value as an educational tool.

Even though technology has allowed knowledge to be more easily attained for more people, there are roadblocks to learning that must be surmounted. Traditional teaching methods too often focus on providing facts and delivering large amounts of information. The result? A bored, disengaged room of students who are not sure about what they are learning and why.…Read More

Are you an AR innovator?

My library is not quiet. As much as I can, I strive to have my students engaged and excited about learning and exploring new things. One of those new things is augmented reality (AR).

Recently, an AR company gave interactive lessons for my class of 25 sixth-graders. The company was here for three hours and my students were engaged and excited the entire time. It was amazing to watch, and I thought, “This is a medium that we definitely have to explore.”

The challenge with this technology is that it looks fun, but many of us don’t have a concrete plan to incorporate it into learning or an idea of how (or if) it will impact student learning. Here are four tips that will help.…Read More

Building a smarter network

Given the data, networking, and security implications of upcoming technology trends, K-12 schools will require a variety of innovations to meet dramatically increased wireless and wired network performance demands without adding more stress on overworked IT staffers.

We recommend the following strategies:

1. Adopt smart infrastructure.
To keep IT overhead low while delivering the performance required to power Internet of things (IoT) devices, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) applications and whatever comes next, invest in more intelligent networking infrastructure. At the wired networking layer, replace your outdated switching paradigm with a modern platform that supports the new IEEE 802.3bz standard for multi-gigabit Ethernet and is driven by an advanced software operating system.…Read More