Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Back At 2011 And Looking Forward To 2012

For the past few years (here and here) I started a tradition (if we can call it that) where I look back at the year in #edtech and try to make predictions as to what's going to take hold in the coming year. No science behind any of this. Just my feelings from what I have been reading and seeing and what I believe will take a great hold in educational technology.

So, how did I do last year?

QR Codes- I said QR would take more of a foot hold. That I believe to be true. We are seeing more and more teachers, conferences, and companies embrace QR as another way to engage students, audiences and customers. One of the most useful examples I saw this year was at a Moodle conference where in the digital conference guide was a QR next to each session. When scanned the QR set up a calendar event with a reminder for the time and location of the session, and the contact information for the presenter so you had it after you left. What a pretty nifty idea. Still don't believe me? My buddy Richard over at FreeTech4Teachers had 10 posts this year about QR. Everything from code makers to ideas for use in the classroom to a way to use them for scavenger hunts (which is pretty cool too.) If you still wanna learn more you can check out my Livebinder all about QR.

More Social Networking- This all boiled down to the continued growth of using Social Media and social networks for learning. While I believe this did happen this year I don't really have a way to measure it. I can say from what I saw in my travels around that educators still are just scratching the surface when it comes to 24/7 Professional Development. We did see things like #edchat and The Reform Symposum grow this year which is great but there is still resistance out there that has to be overcome. Perhaps we will see some movement there this year.

Tablets- It's going to be tough to find anyone who would argue that Tablet did not increase in use in education this year. I wrote several posts about my favorite places to find information about iPads in education or my favorite iPad/Android apps for Administrators. Even in my district we began a tablet roll out with Galaxy Tabs for our Administrators. Look at what my good friend Patrick did at his high school, going 1-to-1 with iPads. These are just a few examples. There are so many more out there and I believe many more to come.

Xbox Kinect- This was my wild card. I didn't really see or hear of much of it's use in education this year. There might be examples out there for Special Ed or Physical Ed that I just didn't hear about but I would love to if you have any examples. Leave them in the comments below.

So what do I think is going to happen this year?

Free Online Courses Will Continue To Grow-Over the past year we saw schools like MIT and Stanford offer up totally free courses in computer science and engineering to anyone who wants to take them. (MIT has had something like this already for a while called OpenCourseware.) But these are the same classes that the students at the universities take, open to the public. Now, its not enough for a degree or anything but if you wanna get your feet wet and do it with some of the greatest minds out there, why not? I think we are going to see more colleges and universities open their courses to the public like this for free. This idea of access to education is only going to grow, I believe, into something pretty amazing.

Badges-Playing off of the Open Course movement I think we will continue to see badges grow in popularity. Think of it like a Merritt badge. You do something, show mastery and get a badge. There was a great piece in Mindshift KQED just before the holiday about badges and how employers could use them. I think, maybe, one day we could see badges rank up there with degrees. Why specialize in one thing when you can take a buffet of courses, get some badges that show mastery and be a versatile member of society. Of course all of this is a long way off but I do think we see more and more conversations about badges and their place in learning.

BYOD- Many are exploring the idea of Bring Your Own Device as an alternative to purchasing devices for students. Look at my district. 57,000 students. And we are only the 5th largest in NC. Providing devices for all students is definitely a challenge. BYOD can help. For me, the device doesn't matter. Its the access to information and the ability to create new learning that's important. I think more districts will revise cellphone and device policies and we will see more and more schools and districts allow students to bring technology with them. Of course that means a change in pedagogy and teaching and (hopefully) we will see that right along with this.

Overall I think we will see more educators embrace social media, more schools and districts see social media as a viable alternative to Face-to-Face Professional Development, digital learning books will take more of a foothold (because of tablets and personal devices in the classroom) and maybe, just maybe, we will see a shift away from learning about specific tools to how learning can be enhanced (TPACK) through the use of technology.

It was a great year. Loads of great things happened. And there are still lots of unknowns out there. But that is what makes working in Educational Technology so exciting right?

What do you think? Is there anything you see that will make waves this year? Leave some comments below.

Image under CC License from and the bird took flight on Flickr. 

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