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Education's Future: Emerging Tech Trends Unveiled for 2017

Matthew Lynch

The future is here…almost.

As we ring in 2017, more and more schools will look to technology to enhance student learning. But not all education technology is created equal.

In this latest installment of our What’s Next for Education series, Matthew Lynch, veteran teacher and editor of two prominent education blogs, The Edvocate and The Tech Edvocate, looks to the near future to project the major ed-tech trends of 2017.

So, what’s next?

More schools will build makerspaces to encourage practical, real-world learning.

Whether they call them makerspaces or hackerspaces or fablabs, more and more schools are discovering the power of these spaces to engage students through practical and exploratory learning.

Think of a library equipped with 3-D printers, computer software and hardware, areas for creating crafts and other art, even robotics. The idea is to give students tangible experience in creating and inventing.

“It is a place where students and instructors can create, learn from, and invent academic material,” says Lynch. “Makerspaces are often used to engage students on their level.”

As peer-based and project-based learning become more popular, makerspaces will compliment these new learning philosophies.

Lynch predicts that more schools will implement makerspaces in libraries, and even expand them into classrooms in the coming year.

Virtual science labs will enhance science and STEM learning.

If  you can’t bring students to science, bring science to them.

As STEM and science curricula become more important in K12 schools, districts are in dire need of places for students to practically apply what they learn.

The problem? Not every school can build its own labs. That’s where online technology comes in.

“Such places as Howard Hughes Medical Institute offer free use of online virtual labs that significantly support both scientific learning and critical thinking skills,” says Lynch.  “Research has shown that online virtual labs provide lower-cost, more contemporary content for students.”

In many ways, virtual science labs provide much of the benefits of makerspaces without a lot of the costs.

More school buses will become online hotspots.

Millions of students in rural and urban districts still attend schools with inadequate internet connectivity. For some students, the situation doesn’t improve when they get home.

So how can schools keep these students from falling behind?

Lynch points to schools such as Coachella Valley School District in California, which sends wi-fi equipped buses to poorer neighborhoods to act as rolling internet hotspots when students get home.

For students with extra-long bus rides, providing wi-fi on the buses provides time both before and after school to catch up on work.

“Utilizing school buses for more than just transportation needs is an innovative way to provide students with yet another tool to help them get the best education possible,” says Lynch. “If school administrators are willing to put in the time, effort and resources to make these types of projects a reality for their districts their students will reap the benefits.”

Do you agree with these trends? Are there others that you think should be on this list? Tell us in the comments. Or, share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #WhatsNextTrustED.

Check out the first two installments of What’s Next for Education. And stay tuned for future installments in the series. Want more stories like this? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, The List.