Sep 25 2017

New NMC Horizon Report Highlights Coding, STEAM as Rising Tech Trends of the Year

Experts from NMC and CoSN explore the trends and issues facing K–12 schools in the coming year.

For K–12 schools across the country, the release of the New Media Consortium and CoSN’s annual Horizon Report means it is time to assess what kinds of technology trends they’ll need to look out for in the years to come.

“For our school district, we only have so much money and resources,” said Pete Just, the CTO of the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township (Indiana). “The report helps us justify expenditures.”

Just, along with NMC Executive Director Eden Dahlstrom and CoSN CEO Keith Krueger, discussed the findings of the report in a webcast earlier this month.

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Coding and STEAM Will Drive Tech Adoption

Each year, the Horizon Report indicates the short-, mid- and long-term trends that will drive technology adoption in the K–12 sector.

With all the talk of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skill gaps that exist between education and career, it’s not surprising that coding is recognized as a short-term trend in the report.

The report indicates that “coding as literacy” will continue to be a force that facilitates the use of tech in classrooms.

“Developing the future workforce is important, but coding literacy at its base level can also help students build transferable skills,” reads the report.

The other short-term trend in the report is STEAM learning, or STEM with the addition of art. By adding artistic endeavors, the report indicates that tech use will continue in more creative ways.

Like coding as literacy, STEAM-infused tech use will foster inventive thinking, experimentation and revisions that will benefit students in the workforce.

“These are not two mutually exclusive topics; they go together,” said Dahlstrom. “With them both, you have wonderful opportunities for innovation.”

Mid-term trends include measuring learning through analytics and redesigning education spaces to support modern learning. Long-term trends are adopting deeper learning approaches and advancing the culture of innovation.

Tech Should Expand Convenience, Access and Authentic Learning

While each of the technology trends highlighted in the report are a bit different, Dahlstrom indicated in the webcast that tech adoption should really be driven by metacategories that represent what 21st-century learning should be.

When technology is introduced in school, it should work to expand access and convenience, spur innovation, foster authentic learning, evaluate evidence, improve teaching and spread digital fluency.

“People expect to be able to learn and work anywhere,” said Dahlstrom. “But if we aren’t intentional about planning expansion of access, we’re at risk for expanding the digital divide.”

Dahlstrom indicated that districts need a strong IT infrastructure for adopting tech, as well as policies, teacher support and mindful engagement opportunities for each student.

For more on how to expand technology thoughtfully, check out CoSN’s digital toolkit.

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