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Technology trends in K-12 education

February 1, 2015 Article 2 min read
Melissa Miller
“To understand their world we must be willing to immerse ourselves in that world. We must embrace the new digital reality. If we can’t relate, if we don’t get it, we won’t be able to make schools relevant to the current and future needs of the digital generation.” – Ian Jukes

From device proliferation to video lectures, technology has made a tremendous impact in the K-12 classroom. So how exactly are these trends affecting the classroom and what issues are arising in turn?

Bring your own device (BYOD)

Our students are “digital natives,” having grown up with mobile devices and they don’t want to abandon them, even for a few hours. BYOD is an opportunity to embrace mobile technology through the devices that students already own, and it’s gaining momentum in districts across the country.

This movement is popular in many school districts since it decreases the cost burden of purchasing a device for every student. The downside, of course, is that not all students can afford such technology and must use school-provided devices. In addition, establishing comprehensive use policies, security challenges, and staff training are important issues districts now face. A growing concern is network capability. Schools have entered a new era of “flash traffic” where hundreds of students with multiple devices are attempting to connect at the same time, creating traffic congestion on the network.

The right device: Different tools for different tasks

With the proliferation of so many tools, it isn’t surprising that students want the “best” devices for their specific needs. Rather than using one device for various tasks, students are focused on using the right tool for the task at hand. They want smartphones for video, social media, and texting; e-readers for reading books and articles; tablets for note taking; and laptops for writing and research. This presents a challenge for districts that are employing a 1:1 strategy, selecting one device (such as an iPad) for all educational needs.

Video: In and out of the classroom

According to YouTube, “over six billion hours of video are watched each month— that's almost an hour for every person on Earth.” It is no surprise that the use of instructional videos is skyrocketing in the classroom. Teachers are using video to help engage their students on the various subjects. Students are in turn accessing video, often through their own initiative, to help with homework.

Taking this trend further, many districts are “flipping the classroom.” In the traditional classroom, the teacher delivers instruction via lecture to a classroom full of students who are taking notes. The students take this knowledge and apply it to homework, in the form of reading assignments, worksheets, or comprehension questions. In the flipped classroom, the homework and the lecture are reversed. The instruction is delivered to students via video lectures as homework. The assignment related to that video lecture is then completed in the classroom.

Flipping the classroom involves changing the instructional model by embracing technology in order to enable students to learn at their own pace, thus allowing for more instructional support in the classroom.

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