12 Education Tech Trends to Watch in 2012

Courtney Williams's picture
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Looking ahead at some of the education technology trends we’ll likely see in 2012, many are already underway.

But here are 12 areas where we believe we’ll see significant adoption and innovation in the coming months.

MOBILE PHONES: Mobile learning is hardly a new trend, but we have now reached the point with near ubiquitous cellphone ownership among adults, and growing ownership among children. More than three-quarters of teens own a cellphone, and about 40% own a smartphone. As such, these mobile devices will help unlock some of the promise of “anytime, anywhere” learning opportunities.

BYOD (BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE): A related trend to mobile learning. More schools will grapple with their policies surrounding students bringing their own devices to school. They do so already, of course, although cellphones in particular are often required to be turned off or stowed in backpacks or lockers. It isn’t just cellphones that are brought from home now either. There are iPod Touches, tablets, laptops, e-readers, and netbooks, and schools will weigh whether or not students will be permitted or even encouraged to bring their own devices to school.

BANDWIDTH ISSUES: The FCC has made broadband access the focus of some of its efforts over the last few years, arguing for its importance to the U.S. economy and education. It’s pushing for better access across the board, but also recognizing the importance of high-speed Internet specifically at schools and libraries. Even those schools with broadband access may find their resources strained in coming months — with the increasing number of mobile devices brought to schools, tapping into the local network as well as with growing demands for streaming video content.

NATURAL USER INTERFACES: The last few year have brought about a number of important innovations in the ways in which we interact and interface with technology: motion-sensing as with the Microsoft Kinect, the touchscreen of the iPhone, the voice-activation of Siri. Just as the graphical user interface, the GUI, opened computer technologies to new populations (specifically non-programmers), these natural user interfaces will likely push those things further forward, increasing accessibility.

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