The Marks are In: The Biggest Edtech Trends in 2016 and What’s in Store for 2017

A whopping 71% of primary schools and 76% of secondary schools in the UK utilise tablets in the classroom, according to a British Education Studies Association (BESA) survey. As technology and education continues to go hand-in-hand, it’s critical to look back at the biggest edtech trends of this past year to understand how they will evolve and create a lasting impact in 2017.

The demise of BYOD

In 2016, the edtech community came to terms with the failure of BYOD. BYOD programmes were considered not only plagued with e-safety problems, but facilitated the digital divide by prohibiting access to much-needed devices and placed financial burdens on schools to manage diversified BYOD programmes. However, there are viable solutions for educators to implement now that can appropriately balance learners’ progress and privacy. For example, the Apple Classroom app empowers students to gradually assume greater responsibilities, enabling learners to continually mature and develop in a safe digital environment.

Bridging the digital divide

The digital divide also grew this year, largely due to higher income learners having greater access to technology, when compared to lower income learners. Accessibility both in and outside of the classroom was an issue for lower income learners. In fact, according to a Pew Research report, nearly 5 million US children do not have high-speed dave saltmarshinternet in their homes. It’s imperative to improve access for lower income communities, deploy capable technologies and manage BYOD in a more thoughtful way to bridge the digital divide in 2017. Educators can look to encourage higher investment to secure higher-functioning devices for learners across all levels to diminish the impact of the digital divide. All students, regardless of income, need to have access both in the classroom and at home to ensure that learning continues outside of the traditional educational setting. 

Cracking the code 

This year, the US realised the benefits of teaching and engaging students in coding across all educational levels. Both in the US and the UK, the computing curriculum will diversify and tangibly evolve in 2017. Teachers will receive computing training, which will pave the way for new learning modules, such as robotics. Programmable robotics with visual programming commands will enable learners to experience first-hand the outcomes of programming. This hands-on educational approach will diversify the learning environment by providing an alternative to screen-based learning. 

Mindfully managing e-safety

Problems relating to e-safety in schools continued to arise in 2016. The key to developing a strong e-safety programme is to balance privilege and protection for learners. Striking the right chord is difficult; however the key to protecting learners across all educational environments is to connect digital citizenship programmes. AR, VR and MOOCs are great technological offerings that diversify the learning experience – however it is imperative that learners across all income brackets have access to these technologies to reap the benefits. If not, the digital divide will continue to grow, as only a small percentage of students will benefit from AR, VR and MOOC access. In 2017, expect to see the rise of AI, rather than AR. Intuitive technologies, such as predictive learning apps, will grade student assignments, equip educators with in-depth insight to understand learners’ progression, suggest hyper-relevant modules and forecast students’ preferred learning style. 

With 2017 only a few weeks away, BYOD, the digital divide, coding and e-safety are the biggest edtech spaces to watch next year. Watch as BYOD programmes will steeply decline, governments and educational institutions will work harder than ever to collaboratively bridge the digital divide, schools will continue to develop their coding programmes and educational institutions will combat e-safety concerns head on by balancing learners’ privilege and protection. With all of the exciting opportunities to innovate and evolve, it’s undeniable that next year will be a hallmark year for edtech.

By Dave Saltmarsh, Global Education Evangelist, Jamf Software

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