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6 new technologies set to change education

Which new technologies will have a big impact on education in the next five years? Here are six to watch out for.

About the NMC

The New Media Consortium (NMC) is an international not-for-profit consortium of learning-focused organisations dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. The consortium's Horizon Reports are regarded worldwide as timely and authoritative sources of information on new and emerging technologies available to education.
The 2011 Horizon Report K-12 Education looks at the technologies most likely to impact education in the coming five years. Released by the New Media Consortium in collaboration with the Consortium for School Networking, the report identifies six new technologies that can expand the tools available to educators without increasing costs – and all of them have the potential to change the way educators, students and institutions work.

Near-term technologies (one year or less)

The continuing rise of cloud computing

Cloud computing has been around for a while, but it’s only recently started to have an impact on education. How will it affect teaching and learning? According to the report, cloud computing removes the restrictive licensing, high costs and high maintenance associated with traditional software. As a result, schools and universities now have quick and easy access to ready-made teaching and learning applications directly over the internet – vastly increasing the variety of digital tools available in education.

Extending the curriculum with mobile devices

Mobile devices already give students the ability to study where and when they want. As Android tablet devices begin to battle Apple’s iPad for the mobile computing market, more educational programs will be developed and refined – such as electronic book readers, annotation tools and applications for creation and composition – further increasing students anytime/anywhere access to the curriculum.

Mid-term technologies (two–three years)

Engaging through game-based learning

Game-based learning has made great strides in secondary education, but it still suffers from a scarcity of decent educational games. Educational developers are struggling to keep up with the technology used in consumer games, but as more schools look to incorporate games in the classroom the educational developers will begin to catch up.

Open digital content free for all

Open textbooks offer numerous benefits, including reduced costs and quick adaption to new information. (One example is Free High School Science Texts, written by volunteer experts for disadvantaged schools in South Africa). As the books are offered online, educators will soon be able to pick and choose from new content on an almost daily basis.

Long-term technologies (four–five years)

Personal learning environments

Often delivered through learning platforms, personal learning environments (PLEs) give students control over the pace, style and direction of how they learn. Students using PLEs will be able to develop their own ‘resource libraries’, incorporating materials that suit their learning style.

Individual teaching with learning analytics

Learning analytics may sound boring, but the power to monitor and respond to students’ academic performance offers great advantages to educators and learners. Until now, learning analytics has focused on identifying at-risk students who can then be coached to avoid dropping out of a course. But the technology has the potential to help educators determine the most effective pedagogical approaches for specific learning styles – and differentiate instruction to suit individual learners.

Get the full report

You can see the full 2011 Horizon Report K-12 Education here.

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