When you think of student learning over the last year, your mind most likely wanders towards Virtual Learning. But virtual learning is not the same as Educational Technology or EdTech. EdTech is when teachers are able to integrate technology into learning experiences. Technology allows teachers to develop lessons that meet the diverse needs of their classrooms.
2021 EdTech Trends
Distance learning became an overnight need when COVID-19 caused school closures all around the country. This type of learning allowed for content to be delivered to multiple types of devices from computers to smartphones. eLearning can include a variety of multimedia sources to engage students in their own learning. Lessons can also be conducted synchronously (a live class) or asynchronously (recordings that can be accessed whenever students choose).
While this trend became popular in 2020 due to the pandemic, it has made great gains over the last year. Students have also developed skills that allowed them to become drivers of their own learning. This trend will likely slow down in K-12 education in the coming years, but with many districts not announcing plans for the next school year yet, it may be around a bit longer. It is expected to continue being a trend in higher education as many colleges and universities have developed online degree programs.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI offers personalized learning for students. This is especially great when teachers have several students and cannot work with individuals at the exact moment they need help. AI programs can adapt lessons and fill in knowledge gaps to reinforce concepts as the student progresses. This allows students to get immediate feedback and continue working. AI is also helping teachers and can be used to grade multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions!
Kids are quickly engaged when they are playing video games or working towards a high score, so why not use this to our advantage in student learning? Gamification allows students to learn while playing and having fun. Students develop communication skills, critical thinking, and use teamwork in order to meet goals. Today’s games that are being used in classrooms have come a long way since older generations who spent their days on the Oregon trail!
Virtual Reality Learning
This has been a great tool for learning to explore the world, either fictional or real. This trend allows students to take field trips to places they may not have otherwise been able to visit this past year! Students enjoy real-world experiences like viewing inside the human body and seeing dinosaurs! The cost of this technology has dropped significantly, which will hopefully allow more schools to invest in VR headsets as part of their curriculum.
It will be interesting to see what trends continue to develop through 2021 as our world begins to return to normal!
Tiffany Verhoosel is currently a Computer Science teacher in the Baltimore City School District. Coming from a background of business she joined the Baltimore City Teaching Residency over ten years ago to make the career change into education and has never looked back. Her degree from Johns Hopkins, a Master of Science in Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology, helped propel her from Special Educator to her current teaching position where she teaches Kindergarten to eighth grade students how to code.