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Three Education Technology Trends to Watch

By The Room 241 Team December 14, 2013

Some exciting education technology trends appear poised to influence the classroom in new ways. They could give teachers access to a broader range of education options while helping students better prepare for the world they will face.

Mobile apps

Veteran teachers, new teachers and those training to become teachers are probably all familiar with mobile apps. They use mobile apps for their calendars, planners, maps and games. But do apps have a place in the classroom (other than under the desk out of the teacher’s sight?) Yes, as it turns out. In fact, helpful classroom mobile apps fall into three categories:

  • Organizing
  • Teaching
  • Creating

Organizing apps include Dropbox, Blackboard mobile and Evernote. Anyone who’s been in a college environment recently has probably heard of or even used all three.

Dropbox allows document sharing anywhere and anytime, taking excuses off the table for most classes in which papers are due.

Blackboard Mobile is a virtual learning tool that helps to organize and supplement educational courses.  Whether students are checking their grades, posting in class discussion boards, reading instructor announcements, taking a look at course content, or even taking tests, this app does it all.  Learn more about Blackboard Mobile here.

Finally, Evernote is a note-taking app that allows students to capture notes and images for access later.  This note taking software is available for a range of operating systems and primarily aims to increase productivity and organization.  You can check out Evernote here.

Teaching apps include TED, Popplet, Keynote, Quick Graph and TeacherKit.

For educators, TED offers a wealth of engaging informational content to share with students. The free app also allows users to search through tags and topics with ease, perfect for educators looking for content relevant to their lesson plan.  Find out more about TedTalk here.

Popplet offers teachers a new way to present information and help students make connections between ideas.  This app helps students think and learn in a different way.  Find out more details about Popplet here.

Creativity apps are more student-focused, allowing learners to show off their skills and demonstrate new knowledge. Keynote is a presentation program students can use to share their presentations and ideas with other students or with their teachers. Its creative options are nearly endless. Follow up with more here.

Quick Graph provides math teachers and students with a tool for graphing and exploring equations while on the go.  Learn more about the possibilities here.

TeacherKit is the go-to app for teachers that wish to log student attendance, add notes on study behavior, create study level reporting, and record students’ grades. The app integrates with email so teachers can easily contact the student or his or her parents.  Discover more about TeacherKit here.

Electronic textbooks

E-textbooks are coming, and in some states they have already arrived. In fact, late in 2012, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan boasted, “Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete.” Goodbye, heavy backpacks. Teachers, especially at the high school level, should prepare for the upcoming transition by familiarizing themselves with digital books. The advantages of digital textbooks are many and varied:

  • 60 percent less expensive than printed books
  • Easy, fast updates
  • Interactive videos and diagrams
  • Easy transportation and browsing

Imagine science textbooks that can be updated days after a new discovery is made, rather than years later. Imagine a history book in which students can watch videos of battles rather than simply read a description. The possibilities are exciting, and teachers should embrace this change.

Learning analytics

Learning analytics is like the “Moneyball” approach applied to education. If statistics can tell teachers something about their students, the thinking goes, then a lot of statistics can tell teachers more about their students. The idea behind learning analytics, however, isn’t to bury teachers in data. It’s about providing teachers with support to demonstrate best practices and help them see where students are succeeding or falling short.

Learning analytics has already caught on in higher education. In a short time, teachers can expect to have access to more data to better provide for their students. The best teachers will figure out how to use the data to reflect on their successes and failures.

What’s next for education and technology? Mobile apps, electronic textbooks and learning analytics are three newbies making headway in some classrooms. Teachers heading into the marketplace would be well served in interviews by sharing their experience using these trending technologies.

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