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What is Education Technology and why should it matter to you?

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Education Technology (also known as “EdTech”) refers to an area of technology devoted to the development and application of tools (including software, hardware, and processes) intended to promote education.

Put another way, “EdTech is a study and ethical practice for facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

Although this developing field may sound like a specialized niche, its potential implications are far-reaching and affect many segments of the population. Read on to find out if you’re among those most likely to benefit from the advancement of EdTech, and how you can contribute to its growth.

For Educators and Educational Institutions…

The great tech minds tasked with creating the data-driven processes and applications that facilitate learning may understand solution-implementation–but they can’t stand in for educators when it comes to disseminating knowledge.

Conversely, strong educators aren’t necessarily equipped or inclined to deal with all the technology available to them and develop ways to apply it to their discipline. They will be the first to tell you that there are enough challenges in their day-to-day work without asking them to become IT experts, as well.

“If developed and applied correctly, #edtech has the potential to become industry-changing”

Services like Alma and Engrade provide one-stop solutions for teachers and schools while illustrating just how far EdTech can take us. If developed and applied correctly, educational technology has the potential to become truly industry-changing for educators–streamlining time-consuming processes (like lesson planning, reporting, and record-keeping) and simplifying communication–with even farther-reaching implications for educational institutions themselves.

EdTech Magazine cites the capacity of this technology for providing institutions with “a very clear understanding of any number of points of reference — student progress, budget performance, alumni snapshots; the list of possibilities and insights truly is limitless.”

For this reason, the future of education relies on an ongoing dialogue between educators and educational institutions, and professionals in the tech world.

The future of education relies on educators, institutions & tech professionals

For Technologists and Designers…

For tech professionals, this means a growing and ongoing need for development in the area that is able to scale as evolving devices and technology multiply avenues for information delivery. And that’s a tall order in a landscape where these elements are developing almost more quickly than they can be understood and applied to the field of education.

Not surprisingly, the current rate of EdTech development is leaving gaps. The recent Software & Information Industry Association’s 2014 K-20 vision survey revealed a“high desire for more technology integration–and need for more support–at all educational levels.”

The annual survey, which polls nearly 1,000 educators across every tier of K-20 education, was released in June during the International Society for Technology in Education’s 2014 expo and indicated that “the ideal level of technology integration is significantly higher than current levels.” EdTech Magazine highlighted several findings from the report, including the following pain points:

  • The majority of K-12 respondents do not feel “highly prepared” for online, summative assessments: 42 percent say they have adequate bandwidth, and 36 percent say they have enough devices and other hardware for students.

  • Three-quarters of K-12 respondents say technology integration is highly important, but their current levels and ideal levels of integration do not align: Only 22 percent say their schools are already highly integrated.

These findings signal a need for technological and professional development on every level of EdTech and the presence of unique career development opportunities.

For Career Seekers…

While a number of job-seekers wish to find work that is simultaneously fulfilling and profitable, the two don’t always seem to go hand in hand (just ask a teacher).

However, the dramatic increase in venture capital investment in Education Technology promises just that.

Forbes remarks, “Whereas teachers generally top out at around $80,000 (and only if they get masters/doctoral degrees), education entrepreneurs have shown that making money and doing well are not always misaligned.”

Whether you’re embarking on a new career or seeking career guidance, the promise of the growing educational technology field delivers enticing opportunities to apply your skills in an environment with true global impact.

For Everyone Else…

At the risk of over-evangelizing the importance of Education Technology, it can be said that the successful development of these tools will impact every aspect of our future. Accessible, effective solutions for superior education empower students and teachers to focus on the task of learning. They can do more with the resources they have, improving the quality of education available to young people around the globe, and better-equipping them for the future.

These are our imminent engineers, architects, and doctors–the leaders of social and political movements to come. Making sure they have the best means available in order to prepare them for these roles ensures a brighter future for all living creatures, and for the planet itself. The next generation faces no shortage of challenges–it’s our job to see that they face no shortage of support in order to overcome them.

posted Mar 5 in EdTech by Nongvutha

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1. Alternative input devices. These tools are designed to allow students with disabilities to use computers and related technology easily. Some alternative input devices include touch screens, modified keyboards, and joysticks that direct a cursor through use of body parts like chins, hands, or feet. Some up-and-coming technology in this area is sip-and-puff systems, developed by companies like Microsoft, to perform computer functions through the simple process of inhaling and exhaling. On-screen keyboards are another area of input technology that is providing K-12 learners with disabilities better use of computers and mobile devices for learning.​

2. Speech-to-text options. This technology is making mainstream waves through its use in popular cell phones like the Android-platform Razr M. While it is a convenience tool for people without disabilities, speech-to-text provides a learning advantage for students who have mobility or dexterity problems, or those who are blind. It allows students to speak their thoughts without typing and even navigate the Internet. speech-to-text options can also “talk back” to students and let them know about potential errors in their work.

3. LAMP. Language Acquisition through Motor Planning, or LAMP, connects neurological and motor learning in a way that makes communication easier for students with autism and related disorders. These principles have proven especially helpful for students who do not speak or have very limited verbal skills. Paired with technology, LAMP principles empower a growing student population with autism to effectively communicate and reach higher academic achievements. LAMP is present in technology – from specially made computers to learning apps.

4. Sensory enhancers. Depending on developmental patterns, children may need to learn differently than their peers. Instead of ABCs and numbers first, a child with language delays may benefit from bright pictures or colors to learn new concepts. Sensory enhancers may include voice analyzers, augmentative communication tools, or speech synthesizers. With the rapid growth of technology in the classroom, these basic tools of assistive technology are seeing great strides.

5. Screen readers. This technology is slightly different from text-to-speech. It simply informs students of what is on a screen. A student who is blind or visually impaired can benefit from the audio interface screen readers provide. Students who otherwise struggle to glean information from a computer screen can learn more easily through technology meant to inform them.

6. Mobile learning. Tablets and smartphones in the classroom are no longer a matter of “if,” but “when, and how quickly?” Administrators and educators can tap into the convenience of mobile technology in the classroom and the potential for student learning adaptation. Over half of school administrators say there is some form of mobile technology in their classrooms and that they plan to implement more when it is financially feasible. School districts should keep in mind that the purchase of mobile devices for K-12 use is only one piece in the learning puzzle. There must be funding for teacher training and maintenance of the devices too.

7. Learning analytics. This evolving concept in K-12 classrooms is different from educational data mining. It focuses on individual students, teachers, and schools without direct implications to the government. Learning analytics are the education industry’s response to “big data” that is used in the business world for improvements and redirection of focus. Learning analytics show students what they have achieved and how their achievements match up with their peers. If implemented correctly, this technology has the potential to warn teachers early of academic issues while keeping students more accountable. Using the mobile and online technology already in place, students can better track and tailor their academic experiences.

8. Open content. The rise of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, has trickled down from college learning to K-12 education. Increasingly, K-12 educators are also coming to believe that all information on any given topic already exists. In effect, a growing number of people believe that content does not need to be re-created or purchased, and the idea has gained steam among K-12 educators specifically. Within the next three years, expect more shared content available to teachers and to students. Open textbooks, resources, and curricula are not the only benefit of an open content push; shared experiences and insights are also valuable teaching tools.

9. 3D printing. Also known as prototyping, 3D printing will allow K-12 students to create tangible models for their ideas. Many fields, like manufacturing, already make use of this technology to determine the effectiveness of ideas on a smaller, printable scale. In education, this technology will bolster creativity and innovation, along with science and math applications. The STEM Academy has already partnered with Stratasys, a leading 3D printing company, to start integration of the technology in programming classes.

10. Outdoor/environmental learning. In short, more schools are looking for ways to get students and teachers outside. We are in an era of experiential learning, so environmental education fits the bill for many students. Lessons in this field teach children an appreciation of the earth and of its resources that the human population is quickly depleting. A better, hands-on understanding of nature also helps with science comprehension and gives students practical learning experiences.

Research has also found that teaching outside, even for short stints, improves student attitudes, attendance, and overall health. In many schools, teachers have always had the freedom to take students outside if they deemed it lesson-appropriate. Look for more official outdoor-teaching policies in the coming year, though, that encourage teachers to incorporate outdoor and environmental learning in all subjects.

As you can tell, many of these technologies have the power to change dramatically the learning experiences of students with learning disabilities, impairments, and other challenges that traditional learning methods have been less able to address. It is likely that we will see more use of these ten technologies and concepts in the next few years. In another article, I will focus on five more of these technology concepts every teacher must know.

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Technology continues to cause massive changes to learning environments.

EdTech has transformed everything from teacher-student interactions to assistive technologies. And some of the most exciting trends in education technology are making personalized learning possible. As tech and IT costs fall, more schools are investing in these cutting-edge technologies to help their students succeed. Here are seven EdTech trends you need to know about for 2019.

1. Artificial Intelligence

AI is trending in education because it helps teachers identify personalized approaches to instruction. Since AI can “learn” from student inputs on digital tests, quizzes, and worksheets, it can test areas of mastery and weakness. It can then adjust the content and presentation to accommodate those needs. These tasks are common for any instructor, but they’re also time-consuming. Automating these tasks can free up time for teachers to focus on guiding students to their educational goals.

For example, Thinkster Math is a tutoring program that uses machine learning to create personalized learning programs in math. The AI presents math problems and tracks how the student got their answer. The program looks for areas of misunderstanding and places where students have missed steps in their problem-solving. Then it makes suggestions based on that data. The process corrects the student within the context of solving the problem — the most valuable teaching moment. The AI can deliver useful feedback that’s customized for the individual student.

2. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have massive implications for educational instruction and student engagement. Artificial reality brings students to quasi-realistic settings where feedback is instant. As prices continue to drop for AR/VR equipment, schools can invest more in “immersive learning” approaches.

AR has already made its way into the classroom via supplementary textbook materials that add extra dimensions to lesson plans. Students can use tablets and smartphones to access 3D models of dinosaurs and flashcards that interact with their textbooks. These innovations literally bring subjects to life and engage students on a much higher cognitive level than traditional classroom lectures.

3. Game-Based Learning

Games have always been an integral part of learning, but the growth in EdTech and electronic devices in the classroom will drive the popularity of game-based learning. This playful pedagogy uses repetition and goal setting to improve comprehension and retention. Like video games themselves, students move from one level to the next, gaining skills as they go. The key is to create learning challenges easy enough to “win,” but challenging enough to promote learning.

Game-based learning is highly motivating, immersive, and encourages students to learn by doing. Because students are already familiar with games, educational apps that use these approaches will become more critical to personalized and blended learning strategies.

4. Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is already bringing low-cost data storage, software hosting, and connectivity to the business world, and educators are now seeing its benefits for education. Cloud computing broadens where and when students and teachers can access homework. With documents, assignments, and lesson plans stored in the cloud, students can take tests or do homework anywhere there’s an internet connection. Students can access assignments from home during free time, vacation, or during an illness. And teachers can access assignments outside of school settings.

Schools are adopting cloud-based services to relieve students of heavy textbooks and the need for locker storage. And digital libraries are replacing physical ones, saving resources and space. Cloud-hosting software can also save schools IT resources since software is managed and delivered over the internet. No need for server rooms, IT tech, and equipment.

5. Move to Mobile

The move to mobile EdTech is beginning in higher education where almost every student has a smartphone. Like cloud-based computing, mobile’s advantage for education is making learning and resources accessible anywhere, anytime. Another benefit mobile brings is that students can interface with their instructors, institutions, and groups using devices they’re already familiar with.

Schools moving to mobile can also benefit from "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) strategies — a growing trend among high school and post-secondary education. Teachers can choose from a variety of BYOD learning apps for note taking and collaborative writing projects. And students can work from devices they know how to use.

6. Online Social Networking & Learning

While social networks and education seem at cross-purposes, schools are starting to use social networks for collaborative learning opportunities. Social networking for education takes collaboration outside the classroom walls. Like mobile devices, social collaboration online gives students opportunities to learn from each other: anywhere, anytime. Collaborative learning promotes diversity perspectives, peer learning, raises confidence, and improves engagement.

Educational social media platforms like Twiducate let teachers communicate assignment due dates, provide links to resources, and disseminate other useful information. Therefore, social media solves a practical problem for teachers. But it also has the potential to support learning — by offering more opportunities for discussion, asking questions, and challenging ideas.

7. Online Learning and MOOCs

Online learning is more popular than ever both in education and business settings. Massive open online courses (or MOOCs) like Udemy or Khan Academy offer cost-effective ways for institutions to supplement their curriculum. Colleges and universities are moving into the MOOC space too, offering online courses on sites like EdX. The entrance of MIT and Harvard into these educational spaces is helping with certification and standardization — two problems that have plagued online learning for years.

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