Five Trends for Successful EdTech Deployments in 2018

In the coming year, a shortlist of what’s likely to impact the field. 

GUEST COLUMN | by Charles Duarte

CREDIT Diamond Assets.jpgWhile students are looking forward to an extended holiday break, chances are administrators are knee deep in budgeting and planning for the next school year. Technology will make up a good portion of this planning, so it’s appropriate to look at some trends for 2018 that are likely to impact edtech purchases.

For schools, there are some positive trends that promise to deliver a better edtech learning environment at a more affordable and sustainable cost.

1. The cost of devices will stay the same or decrease, even as technology continues to improve (also known as Moores Law). Introduced just seven years ago, the original iPad had 16 GB of memory and sold at retail for $629. Compare that to today’s latest generation of iPads, which contain double the memory in the base configuration, are lighter and faster, and retail for about $329, with education pricing falling far below the retail price point. We will continue to see edtech devices improve in computing ability while prices hold or decrease. This will enable school districts to put more devices into the hands of students and teachers, something that is expected in progressive schools.

2. 1-to-1 technology deployments in K-12 have reached the tipping point. A 2016 report from Front Row Education showed that the number of schools with 1:1 student to device ratios rose 10 percent from the previous year to more than 50 percent of schools. At this rate, more than 60 percent of schools will have implemented 1:1 technology programs in 2018. Already, 75 percent of teachers report using technology daily with their students. Considering how tech savvy students are, it’s no wonder. According to Pew Research, 22 percent of kids aged six to nine own a cell phone and this rises to 84 percent of kids aged 15 to 18. With 73 percent of American households having broadband connectivity and half the public owning a tablet computer, according to Pew, schools deploying 1:1 technology are simply playing catch-up. Soon technology will be viewed as a necessity, just as books and pencils once were.

3. Schools will begin thinking about technology as an operational expense. With edtech becoming ubiquitous in schools, it’s time for administrators to stop thinking about technology as a capital expense and instead consider it as necessary to education as electricity and heat. To do this, schools will move toward sustainability plans that include device financing options that deliver more predictable e The best way to do this is to purchase quality devices that will maintain their residual value, which can be used to buy down the next technology purchase. This will require schools to use sustainable financing options. Dollar Buyout leases allow schools to purchase the equipment for a dollar at the end of the lease, use the residual value to reduce the cost of the next technology purchase, and realize predictable costs for edtech.

4. Schools will adopt Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) principles. As parents and students voice their desire for schools to employ the latest technology in the classroom, schools will need to consider both the cost of devices and the learning experience that the devices enable. When making edtech purchases, many schools focus only on initial costs, leading them to purchase what appear to be lower cost devices. When schools make decisions based purely on initial cost, they often neglect to factor in future repair costs and residual value, which can end up costing the school district more in the long run. At the same time, inferior equipment results in lost instructional time and a poor educational experience for students. Using TCO principles, devices are evaluated on their cost and value over their lifecycle, ensuring that the student benefits from the best learning experience.

5. Streamlined edtech programs will enable schools to trade up technology at any time. Summer traditionally has been the time when schools change technology. Without the hustle and bustle of students, administrators feel they have more time to trade in, purchase and activate devices. This leads to the saturation of the secondary market, and downward pressure on residual value of equipment. However, the turnaround time to trade up equipment has compressed over the years to where this can easily happen over breaks in the fall, winter and spring. In fact, IBM deploys an average of 1,300 Macs a week among its staff—almost 70,000 a year—and is supported by a team of just 50 people enterprise-wide.

A new year is exciting because it always holds the promise of fresh approaches and better ways of tackling challenges.

For schools, there are some positive trends that promise to deliver a better edtech learning environment at a more affordable and sustainable cost.

Charles Duarte is VP of Diamond Assets where he works with schools to maximize the residual value of their Apple devices. He has taught grades 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 and has implemented two different 1-to-1 digital learning initiatives while serving in a variety of district leadership roles. Write to:

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Three EdTech Trends to Watch in 2018

Analysis from an experienced educator and edtech company director of instructional strategy.

GUEST COLUMN | by Kellie Ady

CREDIT Schoology Exchange trends.jpgEarlier this year, my company issued an invitation to educators to answer a questionnaire about digital learning. The goal was to get a snapshot of digital learning today and better understand the challenges, priorities, and strategies of schools and districts worldwide.

Conducted May–June 2017, over 2,800 educators responded, answering questions about using technology to impact learning. Some respondents were Schoology users (around 25%), but the majority were not.

These educators came from all over the world, from both public and private institutions, and served in a variety of roles.

What will get more focus, though, is how students will use data around their own learning to define goals and directions on their own paths.

Approximately 32% of the respondents identified themselves as administrators with the remaining 68% falling into the teacher category. 66% of all respondents had more than 10 years experience in education.

Based on the insights gleaned from the Schoology survey, below are three trends edtech trends to look out for in 2018.

Maturity with EdTech Will Lead to Transformational Learning Experiences

Technology is certainly not new to the education space, but the natural entry point of substituting technology for another process or product is making way for other levels of adoption. In line with the SAMR model, educators and administrators are moving higher up on the ladder as technology tools become more widely used and available.

Some of this maturity is likely due to the broader access of known or familiar hardware and devices for fewer dollars. Project Red reports that “between 2011-2017, the average cost of student devices dropped 55%. Since the start of laptops in classrooms in 1996, device costs have dropped 80%. Between 2013–2016, the cost of bandwidth has dropped 70%” (p. 3).

There is still see a digital divide in our schools—and student access to technology was identified as a top challenge for digital learning; however, expanded 1:1 programs, schools who have adopted BYOD, the influx of shared carts, and the increasing proliferation of mobile technology means that greater numbers of students do have access, both at school and at home.

Because these devices have been around for a while, many teachers don’t necessarily need extensive PD on how to use the device and have a basic comfort level. That means the willingness to try new things to transform learning can become much more of a reality.

Another aspect of this shift may be due to pedagogical approaches that have matured as well, like concepts around blended or hybrid learning.

Almost 95% of the survey respondents felt that blended learning positively affected learning to some degree.

As more and more organizations have adopted blended learning programs or initiatives for students and staff, changes in how we work with students in the classroom have gained a level of familiarity, even for those who may not view themselves as “techie” teachers.

David Thornburg, in a CUE article from 2012, noted,

“In some sense, blended learning has been around for a long time. The life sciences teacher who tells kids to watch a video on the Discovery Channel that night at home is practicing blended learning. But now the bar is raised even higher. With broadband available both at schools, homes, and even some school buses, access to networked resources is common enough that many people don’t even think about the number of times they are connected throughout the day” (p. 5).

If that was true in 2012, we now have teachers who have been embracing some form of blending for several years, and those folks are likely trying new approaches and getting past substitution phases in their own growth in the model.

K-12 Schools, Districts, and Teachers Will Invest Heavily in Digitizing Curriculum

According to the survey results, the second-highest priority for teachers was digitizing curriculum. But the time and effort it takes to digitize curriculum continues to be a challenge. This, however, is a challenge that vendors and leaders will start to tackle in earnest.

The investment into digitized curriculum won’t be solely fiscal. The strength and ease of collaboration between teacher teams, schools, and districts is also increasing, which means that teacher-developed materials will also be a focus.

This investment will be worth it.

Research published by Dina Drits-Esser and Louisa Stark in the Electronic Journal of Science Education revealed that

“the curriculum design process, which can occur in a relatively short time period, can foster meaningful, task-oriented collaboration.

The collaboration process provides the vehicle for active learning, where teachers can reflect on their beliefs while applying new knowledge to the classroom.”

In fact, faculty collaboration surfaced in the questionnaire significantly.

Administrators who responded to the survey listed increased collaboration among faculty as a top priority, and the teachers who responded listed collaboration in their top three priorities. As faculty members collaborate on their use of existing resources, work together on curating content, and create new content, the investment of time into digitizing curriculum will happen at a staff level.

We can likely expect investments in publisher content as well, especially as learning management systems, or LMSs, increase partnership integrations.

Recognized standards like those from IMS Global can bring learning tools together in new ways, which will lead to vendors investing their own resources into advanced integrations.

The ability—or even necessity—for tools to integrate will enter into purchasing decisions more than ever before, even as we can expect the use of free tools like Open Educational Resources (OERs) to increase.

Again, as more devices land in the hands of students, access to digitized curricular resources can become more of an expectation. We won’t see paper vanish completely as it can still be valuable for learning, but as budget dollars are needed to invest in instructional resources, expect to see budgets previously devoted to paper consumption shifting to accommodate digital materials.

Interestingly, the research conducted by Project Red found that schools that invested in learning management systems saw cost-savings specifically around paper consumption.

Data-driven Personalization of Learning Will Increase

Using data to inform instruction is, again, not a new concept.

The ways in which we can get useful and actionable data at the classroom level is increasing, as is the flexibility of tools that serve this purpose.

Analytics are becoming more sophisticated while data visualization tools are enhancing the way that data is presented in meaningful ways. The immediacy of the information means that decisions at an instructor or system level can be made with both precision and intention.

What will get more focus, though, is how students will use data around their own learning to define goals and directions on their own paths.

Paige Kowalski, in the article If You Want Personalized Learning, Don’t Forget about Data, explains that:

“Data provides a timely, robust picture of where students are, their strengths and where they need to grow, and their progress over time. Empowered with this shared understanding, there are many ways students, parents, and teachers can give students the individual supports and opportunities they need to succeed.”

Tied to the idea of greater device access is the ability to involve students in the process, which hasn’t necessarily been possible before—or at least not to this degree. Education has had instructional tools for some time now that dictates direction based on learner data, but expect to see more ownership on the part of those whom it impacts the most: students.

Looking Ahead

The survey results yielded some surprises but also helped quantify some trends that we in the educational technology space have been seeing.

In thinking about how to adjust and adapt our own practices where needed, we should continue to explore how to leverage the maturation of approaches and tools, actively pursue new ways to collaborate and integrate resources—and prepare our students for a world where they use their own data for learning.

Kellie Ady is Director of Instructional Strategy at Schoology. She is an experienced educator with specialties in professional development, blended learning, curriculum development, educational technology integration, and instructional design—and she is dedicated to anytime, anywhere, any device learning. Contact her @kellie80

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Year in Review: Hottest EdTrends of 2017

Game-based platform and educator surveys say, what’s hot and not, reflections on trends and learnings over past 12 months.

GUEST COLUMN | by Erik Harrell

CREDIT Kahoot 2017-06-EdTrendsReport-BlogImage.jpgAs 2017 is coming to a close, not only this is a great time to make exciting plans for the holiday break, but also to reflect on the trends and learnings of this year in education and tech.

To define this year’s main trends, we started by analyzing data from our own game-based learning platform (Kahoot!) This year, we surpassed 50 million monthly active users in more than 180 countries. With 2 million U.S. teachers and more than 40% of K-12 students playing every month, our platform has a wealth of data on classroom technology trends.

Summing up these trends, it’s obvious that 2017 has accelerated adoption of technology in classrooms and added a few new items to educators’ toolkit.

Additionally, we looked at results of educator surveys and interviewed some experts about the changes they observed this year. Here’s what we found out:

Math is the queen of search

Math and its subtopics have by far remained the most searched on our platform this year. It has been more popular than other big topics like English, music, history and languages.

Top education-related searches on our platform in 2017:

CREDIT Kahoot top10.png

This search trend doesn’t surprise Leslie Fisher, education tech expert, coach, and long-time user of our platform.

Here’s why she thinks math is the queen of search:

“Math tends to be the most challenging and dreaded subject for most students,” Fisher says. “Teachers are trying to figure out how to make math fun and [your platform] is one of many ways for them to get students to get excited about math.”

Another “hot hit” for educators and teachers is searching for themed quizzes around holidays that they can use in the classrooms, increasing student engagement.

Top searches that were trending in certain months are in line with big events happening around that time.

For example, Valentine’s Day in February or Easter in April.

Top themed searches on our platform in 2017:

February: Valentine’s Day

March: St. Patrick’s Day

April: Easter

May: Cinco de Mayo

June: Summer

August, September: Back to school

October: Halloween

November: Thanksgiving

December: Christmas  (searches are ramping up and we are predicting it to be similar to 2016)

Google continues to gain ground in U.S. classrooms

One of the trends we highlighted in our EdTrends Report published in June was the growing use of Google Chromebooks in classrooms.

At the end of this year, we looked at stats that cover 32 million U.S. users and found that the affordable and sturdy laptop from Google increased usage from 46% to 50% from 2016 to 2017 on our platform for U.S. users.

Google continues picking up speed in U.S. classrooms with both teachers and students. Meanwhile, on the mobile side, Apple continues its stronghold on smartphones and tablets: iOS is getting an impressive share of the usage on both those platforms with 71% on mobile and a whopping 95% on tablets in 2017.

CREDIT Kahoot which OS.png

BYOD approach is taking off

More and more teachers embrace technology as a way to make learning more effective and fun and equip students with 21st century skills.

However, it’s not all schools that are able to provide devices to all students. The practice of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the idea of allowing students to use their own technology in school, is taking off as a way to support academic instruction.

According to Leslie Fisher, who is a big believer in technology, BYOD is a win-win for both teachers and students:

“This year I am seeing a leniency and tolerance in classrooms for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), particularly of Chromebooks as they are durable and affordable and showing up with a touchscreen — an attractive proposition to both students and schools.”

Virtual Reality is real – in classrooms, too

Virtual Reality is not a buzzword – it’s more real than ever. The market for virtual reality is expected to reach $12.1 billion in 2018, according to Statista. In addition to entertainment, research and engineering, it’s making its way into classrooms, too.

As schools move more towards learning by seeing and doing, VR offers a variety of possibilities such as virtual field trips (as many districts grapple with budget cuts), exploring different parts of the world (geography) and time travel to key events and places (history).

Cost-effective solutions such as Google Cardboard can bring VR to the classroom without breaking the bank and as BYOD becomes popular in schools, the practical usage of Google Cardboard becomes more possible.

Video and social media on the rise  

Students, parents, teachers – most of them are on social networks for personal use.

So, it looks quite natural that social has also become a common communication tool for school-related topics.

For example, teachers share classroom videos with parents or post relevant info through special social media tools made for education. This also helps students, who are a bit more shy and aren’t always the first to speak out in class, to express their opinions via video or text.

Not only are students and teachers using popular social media and video platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat but also education-specific platforms that are safe and secure for students to use.

“The way people are telling their school stories with tools like Instagram and Snapchat, and turning students into creators with tools like Adobe Spark Video and Book Creator will push our conversation around content consumption and content creation,” says Monica Burns, a teacher and education consultant.

It’s a Wrap

Summing up these trends, it’s obvious that 2017 has accelerated adoption of technology in classrooms and added a few new items to educators’ toolkit.

In 2018, we expect educators to continue using digital platforms for teaching, learning and assessments as well as increased use of personalized learning, based on results of our survey.

At the same time, educators will have to continue tackling shortages in budget and resources to implement technology as well as the lack of training to understand and adopt new technology.

The final overarching challenge that now lies with teachers is to ensure students become good digital citizens in the class and outside and draw boundaries around their usage of technology.

These are some of the observations we made based on our research.

What trends have you observed in 2017?

What are your predictions for 2018?

Erik Harrell is CEO of Kahoot! a game-based learning platform with more than 50 million users. Prior to that, Erik held several C level roles for more than 10 years at Opera Software (COO, CFO, CSO) and VP roles at J.P. Morgan & Co. in New York. Erik is also an angel investor and has extensive experience as a board member of organizations such as the board of the Alliance Venture Spring Fund, a leading V.C. fund in Norway, with $100 million under management. He was also on the board of Opera Software’s joint venture in China. Erik has an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School and an MA and BA (Phi Beta Kappa) from The Johns Hopkins University. Originally from the U.S., Erik lives in Oslo, Norway, is a passionate tennis player, and is a father of three children. Connect through @GetKahoot

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Tools Teachers Love: Letters Alive

An educator’s classroom perspective on the usefulness of a learning tool.

GUEST COLUMN | by Mary Lirette

CREDIT Letters Alive Plus.jpgI’m a first-grade teacher, and I teach every subject to my diverse class of kids, so I am always looking for interactive tools that I can use in whole-group and one-on-one instruction.

One of my current favorites is the augmented reality kit, Letters Alive Plus, from Alive Studios. The kit includes 26 letter cards, 97 sight-word cards, and 84 word-family cards.

Each card is interactive and triggers multiple 3D animations depending on the word or sentence that I create.

Initially, I had to work on familiarizing myself with all of the different cards available and get everything organized in a way that worked for my class. I found a way where I use the program with the whole group, and also have my students use it independently in learning stations.

Something to Scream About

Every year when I introduce the program for the first time, my students all scream when they see the animals move and hear their sounds. They are so excited and want to see the animals over and over again. They love how the cards are interactive and how the verbs cause the animals to eat, fly, etc. The color changing is always a big hit, too!

I love to use this tool to reinforce correct sentence formation.

A capital letter automatically appears when you make a sentence complete, and it is a wonderful tool for practicing using periods and question marks in “asking and telling” sentences.

We work on this in a video I took with a previous class of kindergarteners.

In 1st grade, we focus a good deal on nouns and verbs. The action verbs come to life in the sentence, and this provides a visual for students who are struggling with identifying verbs.

An Imperative For Learning

I think it is imperative to actively engage students in the learning process.

This sort of tool provides me interactive opportunities to make learning meaningful and fun at the same time. My students are much more interested in building words and sentences with this than they are with letter tiles. It provides the needed hands-on experience as well as the interactive technology they love.

Using this tool in my classroom has been beneficial because it appeals to my young learners and helps them grow academically at the same time.

The students adore the different animals and truly love watching their letters, words, and sentences come to life on the screen.

My students look forward to learning together.

The program is easy to use and lends itself nicely to whole-group and small-group instruction—or even independent activities.

This kind of technology provides meaningful opportunities for student-led learning that keep my students engaged and happy.

Mary Lirette is a 1st-grade teacher at Woodland Presbyterian in Memphis, Tennessee. Write to:

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What Is Edtech’s Role in Out-of-School Time?

5 lessons learned from the edtech community and working with solutions providers.  

GUEST COLUMN | by Christina Oliver