As the end of the year approaches, it's a fantastic time to look back on the big trends of 2015. Moving forward into a new year offers promises of continued innovation in the educational technology space. In classrooms across the country, educators are thinking about how to integrate technology into their instruction to engage students, increase real-world connections to content, and manage coursework efficiently. Let's take a moment to reflect on some of the ed tech trends of 2015 as we start to dream about what next year will bring!
Printing in 3D
3D printing has continued to spark the imagination of teachers and educators at all grade levels. Makerspaces, media centers and art rooms have purchased 3D printers to bring student creations to life. I had the chance to visit the Makerbot offices in New York City this year to see 3D printing in action. Printing in 3D has many real-world applications and can be used to help students make cross-curricular connections. Thingiverse is an online resource with lots of 3D printing project ideas that will get your wheels spinning.
Combining tactile toys with tablets has been one way that children used tablet technology as a learning tool this year. Osmo works with iPads to give students access to learning games that require them to move pieces around in the real world as they interact with their tablets. With number and word games, Osmo is great as a tool for students working together or as an option for classrooms using just a few iPads in station activities. I'm also a big fan of Tiggly toys, which are designed for a younger set of students. Tiggly's interactive toys let students place letters and shapes on their iPad screen to complete activities.
The idea of flipped learning continues to be a mode for content delivery that teachers are introducing to their classrooms. There are tools that support workflow management and content delivery for classrooms using multiple forms of media. With an updated iTunes U, teachers can include discussions in this popular course platform and collect assignments from students. Video recording tools like Swivl give teachers more options for distance learning and flipped instruction by making it easier to record presentations. Both of these options demonstrate the way that teachers are rethinking delivery of course content with technology.
Collaboration vs. 1:1
As many schools have made the shift to 1:1 technology -- where every student has access to his or her own device -- teachers are finding that collaboration can take many forms. Tools like Google Drive make it easy for students to talk to one another in shared documents when all students have their own screen. However, technology provides opportunities for collaboration in 1:1 environments as well. One of my favorite examples this year has been Kahoot!, which lets students answer questions posed by a teacher straight from their device. It requires students to look up at the big screen in their classroom and brings the whole class together even when students are on individual devices.
Using Tech to Stay Social
In 2015, teachers have continued to use technology for connecting with other educators to share ideas and grow in their professional practice. In addition to Facebook groups and Twitter chats, teachers are creating groups on Voxer to stay in touch with like-minded educators whom they've met at conferences or through other social networks. Voxer is an app similar to a walkie-talkie that lets users form groups and send audio, image, and text messages to one another. Participate Learning is a new site this year that also lets teachers come together with a common goal. Educators can make collections of their favorite resources and collaborate with other teachers.
As we continue to think about technology in education, it's important to take a moment of reflection about what has been popular this year. We can step back and examine what's working, where we'd like to see more progress and innovation, and what we're dreaming for the future. What is on your wish list for 2016? Add your thoughts to the comments section below.