This may be a bit different from other prognostications for technology in the classroom for 2019 and beyond because quite a number of those are filled with a lot of hype and fluff and contain absolutely no information on how a teacher could or will actually utilize the new technology today or any time soon. The goal here is for immediate usefulness, not hype about something that does not exist yet, that none of us have access to and that the technologists can't explain how we will utilize.
Virtual Reality Field Trips -
According to Forbes Magazine, museums, important geographical destinations and historical sites, such as the Statue of Liberty, are beginning to provide online virtual reality tours of their facilities. Today in the U.S., we are less and less able to afford to send our students to good, quality field trip locations, unlike in the 1960s through 1980s, when education funding was more stable and our country had not gone through the Great Recession.
According to CNBC, museums are on the forefront of using technology to pique the interests of their customers in order to improve admission rates. All a teacher needs is a bank of computers, and one can send students on an online field trip to the Louvre, MoMa or the Great Barrier Reef. One of the most impressive lists of virtual reality field trip apps and websites is on CommonSense Education. They have reviews of each tour with the pros and cons.
How to set this up would be to examine your state standards and find places in the state standards where you will be able to create genuine, hands-on learning experiences for students utilizing a VR tour. Then, you would need to create questions and activities that guide the students' learning. The best way to do this would be to set up a Webquest that allows the students to search the VR tour and answer inquiry-based questions as they proceed through the tour. In this manner, the students are demonstrating their learning and mastery of the state standards as they proceed through the VR tour and complete the Webquest inquiry.
Other VR and AR in Education? -
Over time, there may be more of these types of virtual reality learning experiences that will be available for K-12 educators. According to the Harvard Business Review, right now, virtual reality and augmented reality experiences are being developed to help doctors view overlays of information from multiple monitors as they perform surgeries on patients, so they don't miss any important information. In terms of education, though, Forbes actually wrote an article about VR and AR for college students, stating that what is currently available is “more hype than help.” For now, as educators, we have the virtual reality field trips, with more to come.
Using Technology for Inclusion -
There is a trend that parents are beginning to sue school districts and universities that fail to provide inclusive experiences and aids to students who are documented to have learning disabilities. Community colleges tend to be more inclusive, while four-year and graduate programs tend to fail to be inclusive. Because higher education institutions are failing to be inclusive, Mader and Butrymowicz found that the majority of college students with learning disabilities never end up getting their degree.
With the internet and technology that we already possess, there is absolutely no excuse to fail to provide inclusive experiences for all students, so all students are able to achieve. Examples of inclusive adaptations include allowing some students with IEPs to utilize voice-to-text technology to write their papers or to listen to voice readings of text. Mader and Butrymowicz spoke of the need to help students with learning disabilities learn soft skills, such as organizing their time and how to study.
The trend is for school districts to be responsible legally for providing such training and adaptations for students. Much of this can be provided by technology that exists or is in development.
A really great resource that is available today to help teachers sort out what types of adaptive technology their students might need is the K-12 Internet Resource Center. They provide links, articles and videos to get teachers up to speed on assistive technologies currently available for learning-disabled students.
More Use of Online Collaboration and Meeting Technology -
Another bit of technology that we have right now and can better utilize are applications such as Skype or WhatsApp to provide more individual help for students after school. Maybe it is easier to leave school shortly after the bell rings, take care of your children and provide some extra time for more help for your students in the early evening from home. We have that technology available right now.
A trend suggested by ChannelPro Network is that more teachers will utilize those connectivity applications. Also, they suggested teachers better utilize Google Docs, wikis and other collaboration applications that allow students to work in groups, each from their home in real time and asynchronously, on cooperative learning projects. This helps in the transition to more blended learning experiences. The website page provides some good explanation of a myriad of uses of online collaboration technology in the classroom with case studies.
Differentiation and Learner Management Systems -
Many of the articles, such as by Forbes, that talk about new technology to use in 2019 and beyond speak of how the new technologies being developed for education will better allow us to “personalize” instruction. Thus, they are talking about how to differentiate instruction for each learner's readiness, interests and learner style. With the Internet, we have no excuse not to provide text at the student's reading level, to tier cooperative learning assignments by readiness level and to allow students to pursue individualized projects that they find personally interesting that meet the state standards.
Augmenting our differentiation efforts will be the learner management systems, such as Canvas and Edmodo, which allow us to create and deliver our lessons to students and digitally track and report learning outcomes. These new LMSs are now being created to allow students to provide and deliver differentiated lessons for students within a class and allow the students and teacher to communicate with one another.
Resource Access on Any Device -
The days of students racing off to the “stacks,” floors and floors of print material, to access their college research have been replaced with finding information from online libraries that have access to online journal information. The new trend that has been emerging and is going to solidify this year, according to Learning Solutions is that students will be able to get the same textual resource on their laptop, their home computer, at the school library, in class and on their tablet or cell phone. This is called “seamless resource access.” Some platforms, like Kindle and Google Drive, already provide such access across devices. Over the very near future, we are going to see more and more of this. It will help our students get to the text they need wherever it is convenient.
Far beyond Oregon Trail, the new breed of learning games are more on the order of Nintendo Labo, which has both physical pieces as well as digital controllers and allows students to learn engineering as they construct objects. EdTechReview expects this trend to continue.
What Isn't Here Yet -
There are vague prognostications about what we will do with the Internet of Things, blockchain and augmented reality. No one really seems to have any definitive information on what exactly that will look like in our classrooms. When we see the emperor walking around in some clothing, we will deal with that as well.
For here and now, most all of us are online with our students. We are able to take students on virtual field trips that are part of WebQuests for inquiry-based learning adventures. We have some incredible gamified learning experiences. We can explore more blended learning experiences with online collaboration tools that allow our students to work cooperatively on projects in real time and asynchronously in the classroom and from home. We have an incredible wealth of resources that allow us to differentiate instruction and maintain all of those lessons for our students to access in a LMS. We also have the legal obligation and resources to provide a myriad of assistive help for our learning disabled students. The only thing to do now is roll up our sleeves and take things one step at a time.