EdTech Themes in 2014

Eight key themes emerging from the buzz of edtech conference discussions. 

GUEST COLUMN | by Jennifer Corriero

I recently had the opportunity to participate in conferences on educational technology including sxswEDU and DML (Digital Media and Learning). This video blog (see above) shares eight key themes that emerged for me as points of interest in the discussions that took place that can be summarized with the following key words:

1)      Playground
2)      Student Voice
3)      Entrepreneurialism
4)      Efficacy
5)      Crowd teaching
6)      Maker Movement
7)      Personalization
8)      Social Spaces

Beyond reporting some of my observations and experiences, I have also started to think more deeply about what I see as the modern day dilemma for learners.  We live in an era of increasing access to choice. In a sea of infinite options for learners to access content, courses and knowledge online, there is a growing number of students who are losing interest in “going to school” if it means being confined to a rigid and outdated approach to learning.

With an increasing number of lectures, tutorials, lessons and modules shared online, combined with community-based social platforms to allow for peer-to-peer interactions, learners are faced with a set of important decisions about how they spend their time and attention. 

Here are some of the questions on the minds of learners today:

.       Why am I inspired to learn this subject?
.       Where do I “go” to learn?
.       How does my learning environment impact my sense of belonging and wellbeing?
.       What medium will I use to develop and demonstrate my learning?
.       How will I share what I learn?
.       Who will evaluate what I have learned and what are their qualifications?
.       Who will provide me with deeper insight on the areas I am most curious about?
.       How does the learning experience match my unique talents and interests?
.       Where will my learning experience lead in terms of my career trajectory?
.       How will this learning experience make me feel?
.       What senses will be heightened and what approaches will I be exposed to?
.       What opportunities will this learning experience expose me to?
.       What credentials will I learn and how are they relevant to my future?

I look forward to being part of the transformational change that is taking place in education and reflecting more deeply on our our systems are evolving to respond to the needs of our learners.

Jennifer Corriero is the co-founder and executive director of TakingITGlobal, an online learning community for youth interested in global issues and creating positive change. She is a contributor to and advisory board member for EdTech Digest. Write to: jenergy@takingitglobal.org


  1. Thanks so much for a brilliant and inspiring distillation of what you observed and experienced. And it is fascinating to see how phenomena that have been around for a significant while (Educational Entrepreneurialism, for instance) reinvent themselves and gain new relevance and momentum in the face of a technology redefined world. All of the items on your list are real and important and well worth the time we spend investigating and pondering them… and based on your report I will do just that. One item, however, I find enticingly problematic. I’m referring to Efficacy. I followed your advice and went to efficacy.pearson.com and found the following quote “… a great education should have a measurable, proven impact on learners’ lives…” Perhaps, but I am having trouble letting go of the conviction that the highest thing we educators might do is set an uncontrollable fire in the minds and souls of our students (and ourselves) and then get out of the way. I’ve long believed that when we really hit a home run its trajectory takes it so far out of the ballpark that we wouldn’t even begin to know how to measure it. To me, measurement is something that has its legitimacy and place, but that also smacks of controlling what’s measured. Not something, I think, that should be applied to all aspects of teaching and learning. At any rate, thanks again for a generous helping of food for thought! I’ll be chewing on this one for a while.

    Mark Gura

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