Key Predictions for the K-12 Education Sector in 2012
As William Gibson has noted, “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.” Innovative districts facing the challenges of the “new normal” will increasingly step forward to adopt some of the most promising edtech innovations of the last few years, turning early stage proofs of concept into large-scale solutions that hold promise for helping teachers be more efficient with every child.
This year will see several new trends begin to have a real impact on schools — in particular the shift from classroom-centered to student-centered learning models. What this shift means is that teachers will organize instruction around the needs, motivations, and strengths of each child rather than the whole class.
Students will increasingly direct their own learning, pursuing passions and interests as they chart their own learning pathways toward mastery of state standards and graduation requirements. Without a doubt personalization technologies will mature, empowering teachers to differentiate instruction down to the individual child.
Ultimately, this shift from nineteenth century classrooms to 21st century learning will put tremendous pressure on schools to offer more flexible instructional models — in online, blended and face-to-face instructional settings — giving students and parent greater choice for how, when and where students learn.
Below are my top five predictions for the K-12 education sector in 2012.
- Personalization Hits Its Stride: As consumers experience a wider array of intelligent assistants (e.g., Siri) and recommendations engine (e.g., Netflix), the demand for intelligent tutors and personalized playlists in school will grow. Innovative edtech companies will continue to work on bringing new levels of personalization to the more complex challenges of K-12 education. Early adopter schools will adapt traditional school structures to take advantage of these new personalization technologies. These schools will increasingly “go digital,” demanding new open learning environments that integrate instructional resources from multiple sources, both commercial and Open Educational Resources (OER), to support this increased personalization.
- Blended Learning Models Will Grow In Importance: Innovative districts, dioceses, and Charter Management Organizations will launch blended learning pilots within a grade level, academy, or entire school to evaluate the challenges and benefits of modifying traditional school structures to blend technology and face-to-face instruction. We’ll see schools begin to adopt staffing, scheduling and teaching delivery models that adapt to when, where and how each and every student learns. Moreover, use of online courses and instructors will continue to grow, allowing greater scheduling flexibility and choice for students and increasing access to high quality teachers and elective courses. Schools will pilot wider use of controlled social networking sites to support student collaboration, online homework help and tutoring, and online study groups.
- Teacher Effectiveness And Assessment Programs Will Mature: As teachers are the primary factor affecting student success in classrooms, districts will increasingly evaluate whether their professional development programs are helping teachers become more effective. Teacher effectiveness programs will mature, addressing concerns about validity and reliability, combining formative observations with measures of student outcomes. Innovative districts will reward highly effective teachers to keep the best teachers in the classroom.
- Technology Will Play A Major Role: As school districts look for cost-effective device strategies, tablets and low-cost laptops/netbooks will increasingly be a part of the day-to-day solution. Moreover, as security protocols improve, districts will increasingly allow students to bring their own devices and will consider cloud-based solutions, moving instructional content, learning applications, assessment, student work and student data to cloud-based hosting environments.
- Improved Data Interoperability Will Be Key to Achieving Next Generation Learning Goals: Open digital learning environments, cloud-based applications, and greater personalization based on big data will require new data standards that enable applications to communicate and build on one another’s services, and enable schools, students, and parents to make sense of it all. The Gates Shared Learning Infrastructure and the IMS Instructional Innovation through Interoperability Leadership Council (I3LC) are pushing aggressively to understand these challenges and work with states, districts, and commercial developers to develop these standards.
- Budgets Will Continue To Be An Issue: State and district budgets will continue to be very tight in 2012, reflecting the new normal until the economy improves and state and local budgets improve. Districts, schools and teachers will be expected to do more with less.
2012 will be a very exciting year for the education sector as innovation and the move to personalized learning models really begin to take root. Schools and school districts will certainly be challenged to think differently in terms of how they empower teachers and design roadmaps to success for students. Those schools and school districts that embrace change and innovation in the classroom will see the most student success.
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