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The Top 4 Education Tech Trends to Watch Out For in 2017

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Who remembers the days of manual pencil sharpeners and writing research reports on loose-leaf notebook paper with a blue ballpoint?

I do!

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Those were dark days, filled with lectures about margins and little red pen marks all over my paragraphs. Not to mention the lack of school administration software.

It’s a miracle I survived!

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Now we have computers, tablets, cell phones, and an entire treasure trove of information at our fingertips thanks to the Internet. However, innovation in education doesn’t stop there!

As we enter the new year, it’s time to look towards the future of education. Here are the top four education tech trends to watch out for in 2017.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Over the years, artificial intelligence (A.I) has received a bad rap from Hollywood blockbusters such as Terminator and The Matrix, to hilarious social media experiments gone awry. It’s unfortunate that such groundbreaking technology carries such a stigma, because although the mention of artificial intelligence may inspire nightmares of Skynet in the classroom, there is massive benefit to introducing A.I into education.

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Short of ushering T-1000s into the classroom to teach your students about geometry and human extermination, there are many practical uses for A.I. available now with even more on the horizon:

  • Automated grading: With artificial intelligence, educators will be able to spend more of their time teaching students and less time grading assignments or filling out gradebooks by hand.
  • A.I. tutoring and virtual mentors: Since the introduction of online courses and pre-recorded online video lectures, students have been able to access supplemental material outside of the classroom. Now imagine if this material was able to be spontaneously generated by artificial intelligence, alleviating the need for human tutors, especially when large proportions of the class are looking for aid.
  • Teacher’s assistants: Similar to the benefits of tutoring, A.I. teacher’s assistants close the gap between a busy professor or grade school teacher and students in need of supplemental lessons. A.I. teacher’s assistants would be able to assess the needs of individual students, just as humans do, in order to find creative new ways to teach a lesson.
  • Streamlined trial-and-error learning: Humans are prone to error, it is ingrained in our nature. In order to correct this error, is it possible that we could create an intelligence far less prone to error, or at least capable of processing error faster than we might be able to? Artificial intelligence opens up the possibilities of this question, since we are already able to use computers to assess and identify errors faster than we can. Imagine an intelligence able to locate and correct errors without our direction at a much faster pace, leading to faster corrections in teaching methods.
  • And many more…

 

Artificial intelligence is bridging the gap between human emotions and the benefit of fast fact processing and quick error detection. It has the potential to aid in softening the blows of human error and educating students beyond the limitations of their instructors. The technology is still in constant development, but with every year that passes, the feasibility of artificial intelligence in our everyday lives grows.

I’m just waiting for Siri to become self-aware and begin her god-complex driven campaign to rule the human race.

2. Gaming in the Classroom

I love video games! When I was a kid I never could’ve imagined just how detailed and beautiful video games would become. Now we have ultra-realistic gaming with 4k resolution and 60 frames per second. The 21st century is heaven for gaming nerds such as myself.

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As you can see, I’m quite the hot commodity.

However, gaming isn’t just for nerds like me anymore. Over the years it has become accessible on consoles, computers, portable gaming systems, smartphones, smart TVs, and now gaming is available in the classroom. I’m not talking about quirky math and reading comprehension games on flash websites either. Major gaming titles are being utilized in the classroom to teach students problem solving skills, social skills, and many other useful lessons.

For example, Minecraft: Education Edition was released this year and is poised to become a hot item for education in the coming year due to its mass popularity with gamers of all ages. According to its website, Minecraft has opened up opportunities for educators to improve classroom engagement, build unique and fun lessons for students, and engage student creativity all with one giant world-creating game.

3. Virtual Reality

I am fascinated with virtual reality. Once I have the money to buy one, I will definitely get my hands on an Oculus Rift for my massive gaming PC. While I have covered virtual reality extensively in the past, it is still a growing technology with many current and future uses in education, which include:

  • Virtual field trips: Unfortunately we haven’t even sent the first commercial flight into space and certain areas of the world are far too expensive to send students to. Virtual reality bridges this gap by creating virtual field trips to Mars, the bottom of the ocean, and Antarctica. These trips place students in scenarios and environments that they otherwise would have very little chance of experiencing in their grade school years.
  • Exploring historical events: Until Doc Brown shows up in his time machine DeLorean, we don’t have the ability to travel back in time. In order to understand our history, the best we have are the accounts left behind by those who were there, but even then it is hard to visualize what it must’ve been like to live through historical events. Virtual reality allows students to travel back and immerse themselves into the history they learn. They are able to experience, hear, and see what wars, inventions, and historical figures shaped our world into what it is today.
  • Eventually replacing book based learning in the future: Whether it happens due to virtual reality or by some other technological advancement, book learning will phase out someday. Virtual reality has the potential to claim this mantle in order to teach history, science, and most other subjects and concepts in a visual manner. Since most humans are visual learners, logically this should have a net positive effect on our ability to teach students of all kinds.

Virtual reality grants the user the ability to immerse themselves into situations and concepts in ways that are either difficult or impossible to experience in real life. This immersion provides close up experiences that were once a part of science fiction and our own imaginations.

4. 3D Printing

3D printing allows us to take the creations in our imagination, put them on a computer screen, and then bring them into physical form via printing. (A post-scarcity future doesn’t sound so far fetched once you think about the possibilities of 3D printing. Star Trek, anyone?)

In the classroom, 3D printing presents opportunities for teachers to create visual aids and gives students the chance to gain first-hand experience with a revolutionary, new technology. This technology is particularly beneficial for engineering and design students who will now be able to create physical representations of their ideas and creations for all to examine.

As a graphic designer with an interest in areas such as architecture, it seems to me that a technology like 3D printing has not yet reached its peak.

Since the technology is still new and therefore on the pricey side, the accessibility leaves a lot to be desired in the field of education. Luckily, the price of 3D printing has dropped in recent years and is forecasted to continue to drop. However, if the introduction of computers into the classroom is any indicator, it is only a matter of time before 3D printing becomes commonplace in classrooms all across the world.

Conclusion

The future is here and it is grand! As long as technology is continually making it easier for me to order food directly to my couch, it’ll be hard to find me complaining about it.

Are there any trends you feel like I missed or brushed over? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author

Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a Content Writer for Capterra, a free resource that matches buyers and sellers of business software. He has a background in politics, economics, and journalism, which he dedicates his off-time to contributing his thoughts to other political sites. In his free-time he enjoys reading, playing guitar, writing, cooking, and dominating the world of video games.

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