With technological advancements becoming more integrated into education standards, each year experts predict that the tipping point is coming, when digital resources such as online coursesand tablet-based teaching implements become so intertwinedthat they become inseparable from our notion of basic education. While those predictions have yet to fully pan out, Dr. Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, expects 2013 to be the year school districts finally make the leap into 21st Century technology. A successful implementation of new tech, however, depends on the willingness of North American teachers to embrace the shifting academic landscape.
Keeping up with tech trends
The esteemed professor recently lent his expertise on education to MindShare Learning, offering his predictions for the coming year. He found that technological innovation in the classroom will rely heavily on teachers’ ability to implement those changes, as well as a commitment to their own continued education in the form of Professional Development. Teachers who are serious about staying up to date with the latest tech trends and their potential educational applications will go to great lengths to keep themselves apprised of emerging technology and become acquainted with its functionality.
Professional Development is key
Fullan expects more teachers to embrace Professional Development in 2013, predicting that the number of professional learning communities (PLCs) will continue to rise as educators develop a network of resources to keep their knowledge of educational technology relevant. Examining a study conducted by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, Education Week found a positive correlation between the performance of a country’s education system and the amount of time its teachers dedicated to professional development. Educators have more resources for professional development at their disposal than ever before, with webinars, online courses and social media options becoming more prevalent. If a teacher wants to expand his or her expertise on an emerging high-tech teaching implement, the resources to do so are plentiful.
Better resources in the classroom
Teachers can expect better support from their school districts, as well. Fullan suggested the declining costs of computers, tablets and internet installation will likely lead to better resources being available to educators. Fullan expects school board leaders to begin to acknowledge the importance of having quick, easily accessible computers in the classroom and will move to outfit them with the latest models. An increased adoption rate of BYOD policies should further supplement the quality of computers available in schools, as teachers are increasingly allowed to bring in their personal laptops and tablets to replace sluggish and outdated classroom computers. With better hardware, teachers can begin to integrate emerging educational advancements such as online courses and textbooks into the classroom experience.
There are many roadblocks to full-scale implementation of the newest educational innovations. Budget concerns, teachers’ unfamiliarity with recent technological advancements and a public distrust of change all stand in the way of making the blended classroom a reality. However, as costs go down, the public and teachersbecome more tech savvy, school districts are becoming more willingto embrace a new academic landscape, where teaching resources are as much digital as they are physical.
Will 2013 be a landmark year for technological innovation in schools? Are blended classrooms the future of academics in North America? Should they replace the old model of primary and secondary education? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!