5 Trends That Will Turn the K-12 Classroom Into A Digital Learning Garden

New tools for educators will be powerful allies in bridging learning gaps.

GUEST COLUMN | by Jon Roepke

CREDIT Belkin EducationThe education technology future we have all been promised for so long is no longer a seed of imagination and innovation. Those seeds have sprouted. Some have even grown roots and are starting to come into full bloom. Of course, some will see the abundance of new tools and tech as a jungle full of predators and pitfalls – too complex and overwhelming to be navigated. Others will see the new innovations as educational enrichments and powerful tools on the learning adventure – ways to show their students, classroom and schools wonderful things they’ve never been. At my company, it’s my job to turn the edtech wilderness into a garden of learning. Surrounded by new worlds and ways to learn– students will grow in ways we can’t yet imagine. After all, that’s the point.

Nurtured correctly, these tools will multiply the efficiency and impact of teachers and other school leaders and open an entirely new learning experience for students.

But what will these new learning environments look like? How will they work?

Foremost, the new tools educators will have at their disposal will be powerful allies in bridging classroom learning gaps. Nurtured correctly, they will multiply the efficiency and impact of teachers and other school leaders and open an entirely new learning experience for students.

As this happens, here are five things what you can expect to see taking root in classrooms – if they’re not there already.

1. More Chromebooks. Google’s Chromebook, the versatile, comparatively inexpensive laptop, has cracked the education marketplace which means more and more of them will be showing up in K-12 classrooms. Cracked may not be the right word. According to USA Today, Chromebook has blown it open and now has a majority of the personal device market in classrooms nationwide. With 51 percent of the market, Chromebook has surpassed Apple which was the accessible go-to technology for teaching and learning.

“It’s a tidal wave: Chrome is the clear U.S. market leader now,” Mike Fisher, associate director of education technology at Futuresource told USA Today. He believes it’s because of Chromebook’s Web-based operating system, ease of use, IT manageability and $200 to $300 price range.

2. Greater Emphasis on Asset Protection. As Chromebooks and other personal learning devices proliferate classrooms, school leaders, parents, students, teachers and technology providers will devote more time and resources to protecting those assets. Well, maybe not the students. Most students aren’t paragons of responsibility or known to be cautious caretakers of personal property. 

While it may have been a loss when a student misplaced or damaged textbooks; computers and tablets are not only more costly in financial terms but could contain sensitive personal information or important academic work. Replacement or repair of classroom hardware is not only costly but incurs significant downtown causing disruption to learning. The need for Protective cases, data backup and cloud systems and basics such as password security will be critical in classroom management.

3. External Compatibility Tools. As personal computers and classroom tablets grow, teachers and administrators will notice a rise in demand for accompanying hardware. Even though classroom technology is changing, testing is here to stay. Peripheral efficiency tools such as external keyboards for tablets, for example, will support in-class work, and multiple choice testing.

4. App Testing Will Grow. With an estimated 3,900 software and smart phone applications to help students in reading and math alone, that’s according to the New York Times, teachers and students will refine and narrow the field to best-in-class products – those that really work and work well for teachers and students alike. That will mean a reliance on reviews, word of mouth referrals, early teacher adoption and some trial and error. Tech teaching and learning will evolve together and quickly.

5. Tech Maven Teachers Stars Emerge. Teachers who have a passion to explore, master and leverage classroom tech will be school and education leaders. More and more of these education rock stars will use multiple edtech tools simultaneously. For example, these tech-savvy educators will be able to orchestrate learning management platforms like Class Dojo to empower students’ successes while simultaneously conducting reading lessons using classroom changer Newsela which publishes high-interest news articles daily at five reading levels based on each student’s reading ability.

As teachers begin to conduct digital savvy classrooms with pioneering edtech products and tools, game-changing resources and ways of learning that ultimately support student achievement, will bloom.

Jon Roepke is Director of Product Management at Belkin Education.

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