3 Ways Technology Is Taking Education by Storm

Our parents (and some of us) went to classrooms, sat in rows, memorized the Periodic Table, recited the times table, and copied down assignments written on chalkboards. Our kids are a long, long way from that.

These are the days of flipped classrooms, storefront education shops, and informal learning centers – each of them hosting mobile devices, cloud-based software, and adaptive technologies. Just like we can work anywhere and everywhere, so can our kids learn inside and outside the classroom. We’re just at the threshold of personalized, always-on, and connected education – and the technology to get there.

At the forefront of it all is personalized learning. Kids come from all different backgrounds, a variety of talents and abilities. Personalized learning tailors its approach to these interests, needs, dreams and goals. It’s a big step to involving students into their own learning. When any of us has agency over something, success follows. As a wise man once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

The World Has Gone Mobile, So Will Education

Let’s just agree: the world has already gone mobile. BYOD is the standard in corporations and I don’t know any progressive company that has banned their employees’ personal devices. Education is next as BYOD in classrooms has already exploded from 22 percent to 56 percent in one year alone. Gone will be the days where kids are stripped of their mobile devices; gone to will be the requirement that everyone has to have the exactly same device in the classroom. Just like the rest of personalization in education, what matters is that kids have access to a mobile device, be it a tablet or a phone, or a laptop, using Android or iOS or Windows.

Education Is Adaptive and Always-On

Look for a long-awaited end from standardized, one-size-fits-all learning. Learning opportunities surround kids every day. Software reacts to this always-on opportunity by becoming more interactive, adaptive, and let’s just set this bar right now: fun. If it sounds a lot like gamification it’s because that’s exactly what it is. Levels, challenges, leader boards, go at your own pace, awards, badges and more.

Gamification has come a long way since Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail. It’s predicted that by 2018, market growth will reach $5.5B. Take note corporate America: in this one area, the education industry will be leading you instead of the other way around. Gartner Research predicts that 50 percent of business operations will be gamified for better learning and adoption.

Gamification motivates learners regardless of age. But education is seeing some of the more exciting uses. Boasting over 20 million users around the world, gamification startup ClassDojo helps teachers manage their classrooms by giving students points for positive behavior; they raised $1.6M in seed funding back in 2012 and then secured another $8.5M in 2014. Edmodo has seen equal success. By allowing teachers to track progress, and students to turn in assignments no matter where they are, it’s secured $87.5M in funding and touting over 59 million users. Smaller startup Brainscape ($2M in funding) embraces mobile flashcards as a way to make learning even more effective.

These kinds of adaptive learning tools allow educators to see into what students know and what they don’t – making it possible for teachers to adapt lesson plans and planned outcomes based on this insight. Adaptive learning tools have been making steady in roads into education as it is.

What’s next is that more and more software solutions will live in the cloud, be accessible and usable to all, regardless of device, version, or operating system – classroom, school district, or country.

The World Is Global, Especially Education

The more the merrier. It takes a community. The sum of us is better than one of us. No matter how you say it, the reality is that more heads are better than one. Learning about the world, its cultures, languages, history and economies is the greatest benefit of exposing kids to other countries. Above all, to the fact that there is more than one way to co-create and collaborate.

The kinds of technologies that support a global learning environment, like Google Classroom, Skype, and SMART amp, break down barriers by exposing students and teachers to a wealth of resources, like curated content, as well as to different perspectives and viewpoints.

One of the reasons Google Cardboard Expeditions is so exciting is that it opens up a whole new world to students, sending them on virtual field trips to the deepest parts of the ocean, the outreaches of space, and some of the world’s most informative, beautiful and incredible museums – simply by folding and snapping a box into shape (the most remarkable lo-fi high technology out there).

In my role as a CTO, I care less about a potential employee’s GPA or where they went to school and care a whole lot about that person’s ability to get stuff done. Can they problem-solve? Can they work with others? Draw connections between different projects? Collaborate? Co-create? At the end of the day, what really matters is a person’s ability to think through a problem and execute on it. Teaching students to do that, that’s the future of education. And technology is leading the way as one of the best tools out there to get us there.

Education’s reliance on technology will only increase, not decrease (as many detractors wish) in these coming years. With the rise in mobile and always-on education opportunities, there will be greater expectations of agnostic devices and cloud-based solutions that ignore borders, promote collaboration, and personalize learning.

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Warren Barkley
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About Warren Barkley

Warren Barkley is SMART's Chief Technology Officer. He brings over 19 years of technology experience and leadership. Over the last two years at SMART he has built a world class technology team, created a new product category with SMART kapp, and award winning education SAAS SMART amp. Prior to his current role, he served as General Manager in the Microsoft Lync/Skype division. Barkley held several key positions in Microsoft over his tenure and was instrumental in the development of Microsoft Lync as the communication and collaboration software of choice for Fortune 500 companies. At Microsoft he also played a central role in establishing WiFi as a worldwide standard. Barkley holds over 60 worldwide patents in networking, wireless and communications. Barkley has degrees from University of British Columbia and University of Victoria. Before his technology career Barkley was a teacher and musician.

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3 thoughts on “3 Ways Technology Is Taking Education by Storm

  1. I think that the technology is what is keeping our students engaged in their learning. Going mobile effectively helps them collaborate and generate new ideas to foster their own learning experiences.

  2. I agree that technology is what is keeping our students engaged in their learning. Teacher’s must learn how to reach children and keep them interested. I think it is exciting to learn a new way to teach, a new way to reach our students.

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