Mobile Computing

A Look Back at the 2015 Technology Trends in Education — and a Look Ahead at 2016

During the past year, technology has been at the forefront of education more than ever before. Assessments have moved online, devices have hit a price point that fits large-scale purchasing and digital curriculum has finally come into its own. Here are some of the big technology trends in education for 2015.

Chromebooks Represent the Majority of Devices Purchased for Schools

With the shift to Common Core in many states, districts are required to conduct their assessments online, which means that schools that lagged in technology needed to roll out either more or newer devices that include keyboards. The low price of Chromebooks — combined with their ability to connect and run Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments — have made them a natural fit for K–12 schools.

These assessments have also required districts to invest in increasing wireless connectivity in their schools to provide enough access for testing and ongoing educational needs.

Educators See the Power of Technology to Support Students’ Individual Needs

One of the benefits of affordable Chromebooks and tablets is the ability to create sustainable one-to-one computing programs. And, when each student has their own device, teachers can use those devices to provide individualized support and enrichment to keep students progressing through the curriculum and address any specific areas they need to improve.

This individualization has great benefits for students with special needs, who can use technology to keep up with their peers in ways they hadn’t been able to through traditional methods. For some students, technology tools provide entirely new ways to communicate and learn.

High-Quality Digital Curriculum Enables New Learning

We know that students enjoy using technology tools — and they often pay more attention to a video screen than to a teacher covering the exact same material. The good news is that curriculum tools integrate digital content and teachers have access to plenty of high-quality online content to cover anything they can’t find in their district curriculum. Because teachers have access to so much digital content, they can explore flipping their classrooms or using a blended learning approach to enable more time for in-class experimentation and discussion.

Additionally, technology in the classroom allows teachers to digitize their own content so they can keep students engaged while using the assignments they know work.

Professional Development Keeps Pace With Change

When there is this much change in schools, professional development is critical. Many districts have realized that they need to offer ongoing professional development, not a one-shot technology day.

Looking Toward the Future

As 2016 nears, we can expect to build on these changes in technology — and to see some exciting shifts.

The 2015 K–12 Horizon Report predicts a shift to more makerspaces in education. This is a great place to integrate technology through coding academies and labs of high-end computers and 3D printers that let students play and create under the guidance of teachers who can help them connect their creativity to their learning.

As wearable technology becomes more mainstream outside of school, teachers will be looking for ways to connect those devices to student learning. These tools fit well in physical education and for communicating on the fly.

Finally, the continued growth in technology-related employment opportunities will provide more incentive for students to pursue computer science education. Schools will want to ensure that they have educational opportunities for these students, either during the school day or after school.

What’s your assessment of technology in the classroom? And what big technology trends in education do you think are coming in 2016? Tell us in the comments below.

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Jennifer Roland

Jennifer Roland is an experienced ed tech writer, having worked on various ISTE publications for 12 years before striking out on her own. Her work has appeared in Ed Tech: Focus on K-12, NPR-affiliate KQED’s education blog MindShift and edCetera. Jennifer’s first book, "The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology," was published by ISTE in 2009. Follow her posts about ed tech and marketing at Follow her on Twitter: @jenroland

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