What’s in Store for the 2018 Education Industry

Perspectives from a maker movement mover.

GUEST COLUMN | by Ricky Ye

CREDIT DFRobot image.jpg2017 has been an interesting year for education; interesting because after the Trump Administration took office, there’s been conflicting conversations about how national education initiatives will change in 2018 and beyond.

Initially concerning was President Trump’s proposed plans to downsize the budget of the U.S. Education Department.

Things started looking up, however, when President Trump announced a plan that would allot $200 million per year to make coding a priority in schools.

More and more K-12 schools in the United States will build designated maker spaces, helping students obtain hands-on STEM experience.

Regulatory conversations aside, what we should be focusing on is empowering districts and teachers to make their own decisions on how to most effectively teach students, utilizing the different types of education technology at their fingertips.

Whether it’s as simple as using Chromebooks and Google education apps for digitizing the everyday learning experience, or providing students with hands-on robotics tools where they can learn to code, program and design on their own, we’ve reached the point where edtech in the classroom has become the norm – and it’s exciting!

Given how far we’ve come in 2017, let’s explore a few trends that are expected to take hold in 2018.

STEM education is moving to Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley giants like Google are committed to STEM education’s future by training Americans for jobs in technology. Called Grow with Google, the program targets not only teachers and students, but also local business, job seekers, developers and startups to provide online training initiatives and programs to prepare for tech-focused careers.

Another example of this is Microsoft, which is focusing their efforts globally with respect to education. Microsoft partners with educational communities worldwide, including its involvement in the annual BETT Show in London, to provide technology and educational programs that supplement the classroom experience.

We’ll increasingly move from products to services

While teachers understand the importance of branching out from the traditional textbook and implementing edtech, it can be difficult to get approval from administrators for various reasons, whether budgetary or otherwise. To combat this in 2018, some edtech companies will move away from developing physical products and toward selling services like online learning platforms and other forms of classroom content. 

STEAM > STEM

To keep creativity at the forefront of the educational spectrum, while also fostering “hard skills” like STEM, it is important to emphasize the arts – the “A” in STEAM education.

Whether students have an affinity for the arts or not, incorporating elements of creativity into STEM education has undeniable benefits, including making STEM more approachable and understandable.

This model creates well-rounded students and overall, lends itself to greater student satisfaction.

Maker spaces will gain popularity in K-12 schools in the U.S.

President Trump’s $200 million coding initiative has the potential to revive the “maker movement” in schools.

More and more K-12 schools in the United States will build designated maker spaces, helping students obtain hands-on STEM experience.

This lends itself to the model of Project Based Learning (PBL), giving students responsibility for an assignment from top to bottom, holding them accountable for solving a real-world issue through their own process of trial-and-error.

As classrooms become more technologically advanced, it’s not a cliché to say that ways to teach and innovate are truly endless. It’s exciting to see how the industry continues to evolve, all the while still putting the student first.

Ricky Ye, Ph.D., is CEO of DFRobot a Shanghai-based robotics and open source hardware provider with a large community catering to future creators. Their kits of Arduino/Electronics and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) robots have been introduced to schools across the globe. He earned his doctorate in robotics at The University of Nottingham.

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