Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking Back At 2010 And Looking Forward To 2011...

Image From CC Search-Flickr (User Kadath)
Seems like it's the cool thing this time of year to look back at the previous year, where we have been and to look forward, to where we are going. I want to be hip. So here is my reflections on 2010 and my predictions for 2011.

I wrote a post on December 28, 2009 where I talked about tools that I thought would have a break out year.

How did I do?

Voicethread- I still don't think this wonderful program gets the attention it deserves. There was a lot of buzz about it every now and then on Twitter but I still don't see it's widespread adoption as a great storytelling tool and feedback tool. If you aren't familiar, Voicethread is a program where you drop in some images and then can record text, audio or video around the image. The best part is that others can do the same. Think about it in a lower elementary classroom. Kids draw images representing what their year will be like. Then the other kids in the class record their thoughts around the image. Very easy and lots of potential. Here is an example I use a lot where I asked people to give me their thoughts on what a PLN (Personal Learning Network) means to them.

I still believe this is a great and easy tool for anyone to use. Need ideas? Check out the Voicethread In Education wiki for some.

Skype- I do think I got this one right. Skype took off and more and more teachers are using it in the classroom. Even Skype itself got in the game late in the year and created a place for teachers to sign-up to connected with other classrooms. I have noticed there are less people talking about it being blocked, which is a positive. They have rolled out 10 way video calling but you only get it for 30 days unless you pay. Bummer. They are moving more and more into the mobile market and now you can do video calls on the iPhone. I see more great things this year for the program. If you need ideas, check out one of my favorite ways to use it, Around The World With 80 Schools.

Ning- What can we say about Ning? They decided to go to a paid service. So many educators ditched the service all together since the free options for educators doesn't really have all that they need. Many people looked at free options like the Buddypress add in for a Wordpress blog. That seems to work well, if you know what you are doing. I think the bigger story here is the fact that social networking in the classroom really took off. Through the use of Twitter, Facebook and other sites, educators are starting to see the power of social media to extend learning beyond the classroom. So if Ning is gone where can you turn to introduce social networking to your students? Here is a great list created right after Ning went paid.

Diigo-I am gonna say that I got this one mostly right. Diigo did have a break out year. More and more people started using the great education features. It wasn't until the end of December that they really started to grow with the mostly correct announcement that Delicious (another social bookmarking service) was being shut down or sold off by Yahoo. More and more people jumped ship and imported their bookmarks into Diigo. I think more and more people will begin to use the service and more and more educators will see the power that those features have in the classroom. Look for great things from Diigo this year.

So what do I see for this year? Well I learned my lesson last year so I will try to be less tool specific but I think there are somethings to keep an eye on for this year.

QR Codes-If you have been keeping up with my blog I have written a lot (here and here) about QR Codes. (I even have a Livebinder full of resources.) I see these popping up in more and more places and I think this could be the year that they really break out into the mainstream both out of the classroom and in. Education author and all around awesome guy, Jeff Utecht, wrote that this is the year of the QR code. Check out his thoughts.

More Social Networking- I believe that more and more educators will see the benefits of having a place where their students can meet online to share information, gather or just chat, outside the classroom. Some are already using spaces where kids are like Facebook but I believe services like Edmodo (one of my favorites) will continue to grow and gain in popularity.

Tablets- The iPad is wicked cool. While there are some imitators out there, I haven't really seen good competition. (The Samsung Galaxy is about the closest.) Expect that to change in a few weeks at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This is the chance for us to see what will be hot in electronics this year and I expect it to be tablets. Once the price is right I think these will replace netbooks and laptops in 1:1 programs in schools. That is, as long as the apps keep up. And that is key. Apps are what make the iPad so great. So education related companies are going to have to be innovative in the apps they create for these devices.

I do have a wildcard piece of tech this year to keep an eye on. The Xbox Kinect. This is basically a camera system that you connect to your Xbox and play games without an controller. Cool stuff. The use in physical education is obvious. But I am thinking about the use in Special Ed and physical therapy. Lots of potential there and I bet we will see at least one education company develop learning games for the Kinect. And it acts as a webcam so it could fit easily into the classroom.

So there it is. My reflections on 2010, and my thoughts on 2011. What do you think? What did I miss? What did I not consider? What do you think will be the "big thing" in Edtech this year. Leave some comments below.

Happy New Year!
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