Last week, I spent a few days in Austin, Texas at the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) annual convention. As I took in the plethora of workshops, seminars, and exhibitors, I made note of a few trends gaining traction in the edtech world.
Tech Tools for Formative Assessment: Teachers are always looking for effective and efficient ways to conduct formative assessments during lessons. Many new tech tools help teachers in this regard. Student response tools like Socrative, InfuseLearning, and NearPod are gaining popularity, while backchannels and collaboration tools like Collaborize Classroom or TodaysMeet can also serve some of the same needs. Teachers can use these tools in a variety of ways -- and with just about any subject and grade level -– and this versatility is likely part of why these tools are becoming so popular.
Digital Tools for Project Based Learning: As the popularity of Project Based Learning (PBL) continues to grow, digital tools to help teachers and students manage PBL experiences are becoming more common. Organizational tools like Project Foundry could be invaluable for tracking authentic assessment, and customizable readers like Subtext can offer opportunities for exploration and discovery. Throughout the process, anything from a mind-mapping tool like Popplet, to a digital storytelling tool like Capzles could help engage and focus students' work. With the amount of planning, authentic assessment, and portfolio management involved in PBL, finding the right digital tools can help streamline the process.
Less Emphasis on Interactive Whiteboards: As tech tools are increasingly in the hands of students, interactive whiteboards may soon fall by the wayside. Whole-class instruction will always have its place in the classroom, and the BYOD model may not work for every situation. However, it seems that expensive, oftentimes cumbersome interactive whiteboards aren't as popular now that so many new tools can offer a more personalized learning experience.
Classroom Tablets to Compete with the iPad: While Apple's iPad has certainly led both the consumer and education tablet markets, the dynamic is starting to shift. Some newer tablets and platforms are emerging that cater to the realities of today's classrooms better than Apple's one-size-fits-all approach. Amplify's Android tablets come preloaded with educational apps as well as handy classroom management tools for more teacher control (like the ability to display an "eyes on teacher" message on every student's tablet with the flip of a switch). The Google Play Store for Education gives district administrators and teachers a direct line to educational Android apps, and the Nexus 7 tablet comes with features to set up large groups, helping ease deployment woes.