Ten Trends 2017: Technology

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The pace of change driven by new technologies and technological advances looks set to continue and even accelerate, meaning that existing skills in the teaching workforce will need to be frequently upgraded.

In every part of our lives technology is reshaping expectations and enabling new possibilities. The emerging technologies are very different to what we have experienced in the past, requiring us to find new ways to adapt to digital change in more sustainable ways.

The important thing here is the pervasive nature of change that occurs when a new technology is introduced, because technological change is not additive, it is ecological. When you add a new technology, you don’t simply change something, you change everything.

Technology trends affecting schools/kura that have emerged over recent years include:

  • Equitable access — Including BYOD, home access, leases, libraries, public spaces, OER and the digital divide.
  • Identity and access management — being able to establish and prove the identity of individuals online has become of critical importance as online services grow and are used more widely. A good example of this in education is the context of online exams, where validating the identity of the person sitting the exam is a perpetual concern for providers.
  • System integration — as the suite of tools and applications used by individuals and organisations grows, so too does the need for these to ‘talk’ to one another and to exchange data. As more and more services migrate to the cloud, the ideal of system integration is becoming achievable – consider the benefits of being able to share student data among schools in a cluster, to allow data to follow a student through their learning journey, regardless of which school they attend etc.
  • Mobile and ‘touch’ technologies — the concept of a ‘computer’ has changed markedly over the past decade or so, with mobility being a key factor here, along with the touch interface these devices afford. This trend continues to pose a significant challenge for educators who are seeking to support various forms of BYOD approaches in schools,
  • Big Data and analytics — the concept of processing vast amounts of data from many disparate sources to derive vital insights. For schools the benefits here are obvious – everything from enabling the development of truly learner-centred pathways with next steps in learning identified through the data to making decisions at a school/cluster or whole system level based on clear understandings of what is needed and where it will help. One significant issue: Far too many organizations are awash in insights they are not structured or resourced to respond to.  (ref VUW report  —  See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311646783)
  • 3D printing — The complexities and immaturity of the 3D printing industry often obscures its true promise: The ultimate ability to mass customize and conveniently produce just-in-time virtually all of the objects we need to operate our businesses.
  • Digital engagement — Wanting to understand better how to engage your students and your community online? Email and online forums are old hat. Messaging is the new platform, and involves a lot more than simply short messages sent over mobile networks. It includes developments in using natural language processes, text/voice interaction and agent-based artifical intelligence (AI).
  • Virtual and mixed reality platforms — creating a powerful combination of immersive user experience, both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are now being used in many gaming platforms. The promise of these technologies has yet to be realized in education, but it is clear that advances in these areas will see them become a major part of the future of user experience.

2017 special focus examples:

  • The Cloud — includes moving all aspects of the technology service into the cloud, including software as a service, infrastruture as a service, platform as a service etc.
  • Blockchain — The blockchain represents one of the key emerging technologies likely to have a significant impact on all facets of our future lives. By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology is creating the backbone of a new type of internet.

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