Technology is changing education in a myriad of ways, according to the CEO of Schoology Jeremy Friedman. There are some techs, however, with the potential to really change the environment both in and out of the classroom — and in an editorial for Forbes’ CIO Network blog, Friedman names and describes them.
Cloud technologies will make a big difference to schools looking to bring down their infrastructure costs, Friedman believes. Instead of purchasing the hardware needed to support their teaching and collaborative platforms, schools can outsource these tasks to cloud providers. The ability to do that will also bolster blended and online learning efforts, as it will make academic materials accessible from anywhere in the world — all without costing schools or districts extra resources. Not to mention it will make aggregating resources, not only on the school level, but also district and even state levels, a much simpler task.
Many education technology and software vendors are already making preparations for the wholesale move to the cloud, as many are now transitioning from selling stand-alone software applications to becoming platform providers. They see their goal as providing cross-platform APIs that allow app developers, even some from the schools or districts themselves, to customize the learning experience in the way best suited to individual circumstances.
This vendor collaboration and openness encourages rapid innovation and content sharing that ultimately benefits all stakeholders. It also begins to open new distribution models for new companies looking to gain scale quickly, and new business models for those with widespread scale and reach.
Any technology that is platform-agnostic will gain more favor going forward as money-pinched schools increasingly embrace “bring your own device” policies, shifting the expense of purchasing hardware from themselves onto students. Products that can work equally well on iOS, Android and other common gadget operating systems will become much easier for districts to justify than those that require that schools use only one or a family of devices.
Adaptive learning is not necessarily new, but it is making its way directly to individuals in a more widespread fashion than ever before. Adaptive learning is popular because it offers students a more personalized learning experience. Technically, it is an educational method that uses computers as interactive teaching devices. Content and instruction are tailored to the skill level and needs of each student, which simultaneously helping to improve the teaching process in an automated manner.
The last one, gamification, has almost an equal number of supporters and detractors. It’s hard to argue with the fact that gaming develops certain skills considered key in improved learning outcomes. However, it is also often blamed for short attention spans in children that prevents them from settling down to long and tedious tasks often necessary for mastering a topic. Still, game-based learning is being embraced by many organizations that have a great deal of influence on education policy, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which recently funded the Games, Learning and Assessment Lab.
According to the organization, GLASS Lab is “based on the understanding that digital games and simulations can support student learning by providing immediate feedback for students, teachers and parents on students’ progress toward established learning goals.”