For IT professionals at educational institutions, you’re wrapping up another busy year managing technology for the students, teachers, and administrators who use it every day. Maybe you’re resolving those final help desk tickets, checking in Chromebooks, or budgeting for next year’s technology investments.
In 2016, technology in schools is on the rise. In order to give students a competitive, modern education that builds digital literacy and prepares them for college and beyond, incorporating technology in students’ learning is more important than ever. This month we’re starting a new series for IT professionals in the education space. In the series, we’ll be discussing all thing related to education technology:
- Obstacles on the road to EdTech
- Is EdTech actually improving learning?
- How to get buy-in for EdTech initiatives
- Why EdTech depends on a reliable network infrastructure
- Essential tools IT can use for better tech management
- The case for technology use in education
- How a one-woman IT department brought modern tech to her rural district
- Ways IT can provide better help desk support in schools
Check back for the links to all the articles in the series as they publish, and keep reading for a snapshot of what EdTech is and how it’s growing.
What is EdTech?
Ever since the late 90s when smartboards appeared in schools, education technology has gained momentum. As technology advances, conversations are rampant about how to best integrate new devices, software, and applications in the classroom. So what exactly is EdTech?
A word that means what it says, EdTech is all about developing and applying technology to enhance and personalize student learning. Picturing iPads and smartboards? You’ve got it. Here are more examples of technology used in educational settings:
- Personal computing devices, e.g. laptops, tablets, or smartphones
- Interactive tools, e.g. clickers or whiteboards
- Online platforms and classes, e.g. massive open online courses (MOOCS) or Udemy online classes
- Online testing
- Social media tools, e.g. Twitter or Pinterest
- Software as a Service, e.g. Google Drive or Dropbox
- Gamification, e.g. Duolingo or Khan Academy
- Applications, e.g. Wikispaces or Canva
- 3D printers
Growing EdTech trends include:
- Bring-your-own-device (BYOD): allowing students to bring their own tablets, laptops, or other device to be used at school
- Flipped classrooms: when teachers reverse the usual educational model, leading interactive classroom exercises and having students watch a lecture online at home
- Makerspaces: open areas for collaborative and independent work
- Wearable technology: such as fitness devices or Google Glass
The Rise of EdTech
Technology in education is growing quickly, and predicted to continue growing. Consider some of the following statistics:
- In 2015, global spending on EdTech hardware reached $15 billion, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year.
- Public schools provide at least one computer for every five students and spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content.
- Bill Gates, who has contributed a hefty sum from his own foundation to the advance of EdTech, predicts that the market for digital instruction materials will grow by an additional $1.1 billion in the U.S. alone by 2020.
- Seventy-four percent of high school students say they regularly use a smartphone or tablet in the classroom.
- In one survey, 80 percent of administrators said their schools or districts use eBooks, audiobooks, and/or other digital texts to improve learning. An additional 9 percent plan to get started with some kind of digital text in the next year or so.
The types of devices educators prefer are also shifting. While iPads had a surge in popularity in the mid-2000s, Chromebooks have recently overtaken the education sector, leading over iPads with more than 50 percent market share.
Whether your school is already pushing the envelope with technology, or you’re fighting to increase your Internet bandwidth or experiment with 1:1 device programs, your role managing and maintaining working technology is critical. As technology continues to pervade standard learning environments, your expertise will only grow in importance as schools rely on you to keep tech up and running.
This content was adapted from our eBook Education Technology in 2016. Download your copy of the eBook for a close look at EdTech trends and challenges, as well as interviews with IT leaders who are championing modern technology in their schools.