In the spirit of the new year and all things dealing with resolutions and lists, I submit below my first blog posting for the EduTech blog (checking off a resolution) with a discussion of 10 Global Trends in ICT and Education for 2010 and beyond (joining the crowded space of lists in this new year).
The list is an aggregation of projections from leading forecasters such as the Horizon Report, personal observations and a good dose of guesswork. The Top 10 Global Trends in ICT and Education are:
- Mobile Learning. New advances in hardware and software are making mobile “smart phones” indispensible tools. Just as cell phones have leapfrogged fixed line technology in the telecommunications industry, it is likely that mobile devices with internet access and computing capabilities will soon overtake personal computers as the information appliance of choice in the classroom.
- Cloud computing. Applications are increasingly moving off of the stand alone desk top computer and increasingly onto server farms accessible through the Internet. The implications of this trend for education systems are huge; they will make cheaper information appliances available which do not require the processing power or size of the PC. The challenge will be providing the ubiquitous connectivity to access information sitting in the “cloud”.
- One-to-One computing. The trend in classrooms around the world is to provide an information appliance to every learner and create learning environments that assume universal access to the technology. Whether the hardware involved is one laptop per child (OLPC), or – increasingly -- a net computer, smart phone, or the re-emergence of the tablet, classrooms should prepare for the universal availability of personal learning devices.
- Ubiquitous learning. With the emergence of increasingly robust connectivity infrastructure and cheaper computers, school systems around the world are developing the ability to provide learning opportunities to students “anytime, anywhere”. This trend requires a rethinking of the traditional 40 minute lesson. In addition to hardware and Internet access, it requires the availability of virtual mentors or teachers, and/or opportunities for peer to peer and self-paced, deeper learning.
- Gaming. A recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project per the Horizon Report found that massively multiplayer and other online game experience is extremely common among young people and that games offer an opportunity for increased social interaction and civic engagement among youth. The phenomenal success of games with a focus on active participation, built in incentives and interaction suggests that current educational methods are not falling short and that educational games could more effectively attract the interest and attention of learners.
- Personalized learning. Education systems are increasingly investigating the use of technology to better understand a student’s knowledge base from prior learning and to tailor teaching to both address learning gaps as well as learning styles. This focus transforms a classroom from one that teaches to the middle to one that adjusts content and pedagogy based on individual student needs – both strong and weak.
- Redefinition of learning spaces. The ordered classroom of 30 desks in rows of 5 may quickly become a relic of the industrial age as schools around the world are re-thinking the most appropriate learning environments to foster collaborative, cross-disciplinary, students centered learning. Concepts such as greater use of light, colors, circular tables, individual spaces for students and teachers, and smaller open learning spaces for project-based learning are increasingly emphasized.
- Teacher-generated open content. OECD school systems are increasingly empowering teachers and networks of teachers to both identify and create the learning resources that they find most effective in the classroom. Many online texts allow teachers to edit, add to, or otherwise customize material for their own purposes, so that their students receive a tailored copy that exactly suits the style and pace of the course. These resources in many cases complement the official textbook and may, in the years to come, supplant the textbook as the primary learning source for students. Such activities often challenge traditional notions of intellectual property and copyright.
- Smart portfolio assessment. The collection, management, sorting, and retrieving of data related to learning will help teachers to better understand learning gaps and customize content and pedagogical approaches. Also, assessment is increasingly moving toward frequent formative assessments which lend itself to real-time data and less on high-pressure exams as the mark of excellence. Tools are increasingly available to students to gather their work together in a kind of online portfolio; whenever they add a tweet, blog post, or photo to any online service, it will appear in their personal portfolio which can be both peer and teacher assessed.
- Teacher managers/mentors. The role of the teacher in the classroom is being transformed from that of the font of knowledge to an instructional manager helping to guide students through individualized learning pathways, identifying relevant learning resources, creating collaborative learning opportunities, and providing insight and support both during formal class time and outside of the designated 40 minute instruction period. This shift is easier said than done and ultimately the success or failure of technology projects in the classroom hinge on the human factor and the willingness of a teacher to step into unchartered territory.
These trends are expected to continue and to challenge many of the delivery models fundamental to formal education as it is practiced in most countries. It will be interesting to reflect back on this list at the end of the year to see which ideas have gained the most traction; and what new ideas will make a list for 2011….
In 2010 we welcome a new blogger to the team! Robert Hawkins is a Sr. Education Specialist in the World Bank with a focus on science and technology as well as the role of technology in education.