Will Education Technology Push Students in 2014?

The pressure to introduce new education technology worldwide is mounting as a new generation of learning software, free online tutorials, and better connectivity become more available.

In schools, iPads and other tablets are increasingly handed out to students to enhance their learning. Great promise is being shown by adaptive learning software. Students can learn at their own pace as these tools offer personalized education. For example, schools are allowed to take a more selective approach in acquiring learning resources by free online courses such as the KhanAcademy's mathematics classes.

According to The Economist, 2014 will see a big push to making coding and computer science part of the curriculum, with children encouraged to be producers rather than consumers of technology as Tony Wan, a staff writer at Edsurge predicts.

Jason Tomassini, a spokesperson for Digital Promise, a non-profit that works to spur innovation in education, predicts that 2014 will see less emphasis on one-to-one devices and more on educational outcomes. To that end, Mr. Tomassini's group is offering a new initiative in 2014, with funding from the Gates Foundation, called Teacher Wallets. Three hundred teachers will receive $6,000 each. With this they can buy digital courseware, and make their own decisions about the technology they use in the classroom. Connectivity in schools will continue to improve in 2014 but will not be as fast or cheap as it should be.

New education technology has also penetrated higher education. Many new online classes are being offered by universities to registered students, as well as to members of the public. These free degree classes have become more widely known as "massive open online courses" (MOOCs), and will continue to cause much debate in 2014. Online platforms such as Coursera offering university courses are putting pressure on the old university business model.

In the longer term, as the use of these credits grows internationally, a global market in higher-education credits may emerge. For low-ranking universities these developments will squeeze profits, as they struggle with a perfect storm of declining enrollments, downward pressure on tuition fees and cuts in funding.

Additionally, billions have been spent in moving out of textbooks and into digital content by big publishers such as McGraw-Hill Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson.

If 2013 was a year of big investments in online university-course providers such as Udacity, Coursera and EdX, 2014 will be the "show me" year, says Betsy Corcoran, the boss of EdSurge, which promotes education technology from its base in California. She says there will be a "winnowing out" of small companies as investors ask tough questions about how they are going to build a business.

Technology will cause disruptive shifts in education and fast, according to Michael Moe, a founder of GSVcapital. No sign of waning is shown by forces driving education technology. Mr. Moe highlights ubiquitous computing, better internet access, more "digitally native" teachers and the need for lifelong education in a rapidly changing economy. These trends, he says, will put more technology in the classroom in 2014 and beyond. "It's like gravity, it's going to happen."


11 29, 2013
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