June 26, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
Summer is here, which means K-12 staff are hard at work preparing for the upcoming school year. For IT departments, this means planning the procurement, implementation, and maintenance of education technology in the classroom and school environment. Mindsight has extensive experience in the K-12 education space implementing IT services and solutions – from security to collaboration to network – focused on enhancing student learning. So, we’ve rounded up the top K-12 EdTech trends bound to impact school districts in the 2018-2019 school year.
- Security: Physical and Digital
- Edge Computing and Cloud Services
- Data-Driven Instruction
- Adaptive Learning, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT)
- Gamification and Immersive Learning
Security: Physical And Digital
Given the rising number of campus safety events, including the school shootings plaguing communities across the country, IT departments are increasingly involved in the technical implementation of smart-tech that protects students, staff, and the campus. Districts recognize the value in combining physical and cybersecurity planning under one domain, and IT is a strategic voice in developing campus security master plans.
Among recent K-12 EdTech trends: video surveillance and access management. Video cameras were once a source of contention in communities, and sometimes they still are. As of 2016, 90% of high schools use security cameras to monitor the school – from secluded hallways to busy buses – and this trend doesn’t seem to be turning around. Schools are looking for new ways to balance security with privacy.
From metal detectors to buzzer systems and beyond, school districts are also developing strategies to monitor and manage building access. Locked-door systems, protective glass, reinforced vestibules, single-point entry, and perimeter fences are some of the ways schools are seeking to protect students from physical threats. These additions do not come fully unopposed, which is why it is important to seek input from the community at large when developing a security plan.
Security extends beyond the physical realm, though. Schools must comply with FERPA and other privacy regulations that protect student education records. As teachers and administrators seek to utilize third-party vendors to store, monitor, scaffold, and analyze student data, IT is faced with a growing list of platforms to manage. The 2018-2019 school year will see many challenges as IT departments race to both support curriculum tools and protect students. It will be vital to bring in a trusted partner who can help launch a cybersecurity master plan that will enhance student learning.
Edge Computing And Cloud Services
One of the biggest K-12 EdTech trends to watch: blended learning models. Educators, administrators, and researchers are seeking ways to integrate online and in-person learning models, and hope that by doing so they will better meet students where they are and provide scaffolding so they can get to where they need to be.
Part of this transition is moving resources and applications to the cloud. Since many districts use large public clouds, like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, the other aspect of this trend to watch is edge computing. The central idea of edge computing is that data is processed closer to its point of origin, reducing the amount of data that needs to travel all the way to the cloud.
This is a big step for schools, where meeting even basic broadband network goals can be a challenge. Edge computing (and its close relative fog computing) can help compensate for this, by prioritizing data processes for strategic education initiatives.
In any cloud deployment model, security is paramount. Student data – both personal student information (name, address, social security number, etc.) and student education records are subject to strict security policies. But implementing those policies can be a challenge. Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) like Cisco Cloudlock are one tool IT departments are turning to in an effort to secure the cloud infrastructure, defend against data breaches and attacks, and facilitate security through simple, open APIs.
Since Mindsight is a Cisco Gold Partner, we can provide proof of concept, demos and support in utilizing tools like Cisco Cloudlock. Contact us today to arrange for a demonstration or begin a discussion about how these tools can work for your school district.
Data-driven instruction is rising in the U.S., with Kahoot!’s recent online survey showing 75% of educators believe it is a top K-12 EdTech trend to watch. Using data to analyze and scaffold is nothing new, neither is sharing that data amongst staff. But technology is giving way to a new kind of data sharing, which is two-fold:
Data is shared internally:
- Student <-> Student
- Student <-> Teacher
- Teacher <-> Administrator
Data is shared with third parties:
- Government entities
Data sharing is rife with challenges. FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is dedicated to protecting the information of children in the education system. Enforcing that policy, however, is not always an easy path.
Although the U.S. government does provide guidance with their data sharing toolkit, IT departments are tasked with implementing policies in their districts that protect student data. As this Education Week report demonstrates, schools, government agencies, educators, administrators, researchers, parents, and students all have skin in the game. It can be a hard line to toe.
“The problems out there are enormous and too large for any one entity to tackle on its own,” says David Jansen, Manager of Application Development for Fresno (CA) Unified School District.
To be successful, IT needs to collaborate with staff to determine how to implement data sharing tools – like Khan Academy, PowerSchool, ALEKS, Illuminate Education, i-Ready, Dreambox, G-Suite, Edgenuity, ST Math, and NWEA Map – to name a few. These are useful tools, but will only work when implemented strategically with student data protection in mind.
With roots in contact and call centers, collaboration is Mindsight’s middle name. We are experienced in helping school districts develop and manage data-sharing plans that provide valuable resources for educators and students, while also protecting student privacy.
Adaptive Learning, AI, And The Internet Of Things (IoT)
Adaptive learning is already here. “Check-in” assessments that respond to a student’s answers by modifying content to meet the student – either above or below – is common in data sharing tools. These resources can scaffold lessons, layering complexity with supports to ensure success. Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes this possible. AI will also be used to perform debates and scaffolded Socratic exercises with students.
From a refrigerator that texts when you need more milk to the Alexas and Google Homes ordering laundry detergent or calling Grandma, smart technology that is part of the Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay.
In education, smart technology has been around for over a decade. SMART boards enable teachers to provide interactive activities, pull up documents and worksheets, and share videos and more with their students.
Where is IoT in education today?
Last year, IBM announced it would be investing $3 billion in IoT with a focus on education. Automating administrative duties and enabling educators to focus on the actual teaching is the main objective, as is data management and processing.
IT departments will be at the forefront in training, managing, and leading the implementation of these tools.
Gamification And Immersive Learning
The new word on the street, and our final K-12 EdTech trend, is gamification. Kids (and adults) enjoy video games – from the early NES versions of Mario Bros to the recent mega-hit Fortnite, gaming is becoming a more accepted part of recreational culture.
Although some still debate the risks of increased violent tendencies, most research points to them being neutral, if not beneficial to health and safety. And schools are taking the hint. “When I taught kindergarten, I saw a huge change in student engagement when I used games”, says Shannon Johnson, a senior curriculum advisor with JumpStart Games.
Virtual and augmented reality fall into this discussion as well, though costs are still too high for most districts to implement. Virtual labs and augmented museum tours are one way schools are working with educational organizations to bring VR into the classroom. VR is especially beneficial in supporting STEAM curriculum. Even if the typical classroom doesn’t feature a VR system yet, this K-12 EdTech trend is right around the corner.
The K-12 classroom is a busy place. IT teams in these schools are tasked with the difficult job of managing a wealth of disparate technologies while coordinating with teachers, parents, administrators, students, and the larger community. Paying attention to K-12 EdTech trends can help a district move towards the future by preparing their students for tomorrow today.
Contact us today to discuss how to implement these and other K-12 EdTech trends in your school district.
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.