Dec 06 2021

5 K–12 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2022

The biggest trends in education are the technology solutions that empower teaching and learning. Discover which learning tools are quickly growing in popularity.

Editor’s note: To help IT leaders prepare for the year ahead, EdTech is pulling together the biggest tech trends for K–12 districts in 2022. Be sure to check out our trends in artificial intelligence, asynchronous learning and cloud technology as well.

Educational technology trends for 2022 look a bit different.

In 2020 and 2021, educators pioneered ed tech tools for their classrooms at an overwhelming pace. Districts with more than 1,000 students accessed an average 1,449 ed tech products online each month during the 2020-2021 school year, according to research conducted by LearnPlatform. In response, they are now seeing an increase in teachers and students who are burned out on technology. The solution, though, isn’t to ditch the tech entirely, but to strike the right balance of tools that meaningfully improve learning for students.

Educators and IT administrators in K–12 need to integrate technology in ways that are meaningful and intentional, and all users are looking for technology that makes their lives easier. No longer dazzled by shiny, new ed tech, educators are seeking tools and learning models that are as impactful as they are sustainable. These technologies are trending because of how they improve the educational experience for students, teachers and IT leaders.

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Here are the five educational technology trends to consider for your district:

1. Artificial Intelligence Powers New Educational Tech

One of the top trends for ed tech in 2022, artificial intelligence and machine learning are showing up in everything from classroom management tools to cybersecurity.

A fear many educators have when they hear about AI is that technology will take over aspects of their job or replace them altogether. But that’s not the way today’s AI works, explains Bryan Miller, senior director for global strategic outreach at Wonder Workshop.

“Right now, artificial intelligence is so data driven, it only relies on what the inputs are to come up with an understanding of what the output should be,” says Miller, who is also an EdTech K–12 IT influencer. “This is the opportunity to use Big Data to drive better decision-making opportunities that will impact the classroom and the students directly.”

Bryan Miller
Artificial intelligence has grown within the past five years exponentially, and it’s going to continue to grow at an incredible rate.”

Bryan Miller Senior Director for Global Strategic Outreach, Wonder Workshop

Technology tools powered by AI and ML are already appearing in classrooms, working to make visible and behind-the-scenes decisions based on data. Voice assistants in products that help manage classrooms are an example of AI students and teachers may see and interact with, while AI-powered content filtering and cybersecurity tools work intelligently in the background. In 2022, the uses for AI and ML will only continue to grow.

“Technology is advancing faster than the year before,” Miller says. “Artificial intelligence has grown within the past five years exponentially, and it’s going to continue to grow at an incredible rate.”

2. Cloud Technology Permeates Applications and Data Centers

Cloud technology exploded in popularity following the shift to remote learning. Software as a Service tools helped students work together and complete projects from anywhere. Even as schools reopened their doors for in-person learning, cloud-based software maintained its foothold in education thanks to the ability to access work from any device and the ease of scaling deployed applications to meet students’ needs.

Infrastructure as a Service has also gained momentum in K–12 districts, with some schools using the technology for disaster recovery and others choosing this forward-looking tech to prepare for the future of learning.

“A lot of the money from the government was used to help build infrastructure in schools,” Miller says. “When all of these students received their devices and then had to come back to school, a lot of schools didn’t have the network infrastructure built to support this. So, schools and districts have made that shift toward cloud network management or cloud computing.”

Cloud-based technology has also aided schools hindered by supply chain disruptions. Nearly every industry has experienced this pandemic-created pain point, with K–12 districts struggling to get backordered one-to-one devices and ed tech tools to students.

44%

The percentage of IT leaders who planned to “shift application processing requirements to the cloud to lessen the impact of IT supply chain disruption”

Source: Insight, “Insight Intelligent Technology Report 2022: IT Ambitions for Business Transformation,” November 2021

While some IT administrators worry about the safety of moving their data to the cloud, working with a third party on security services can bring confidence to the use of this solution, Miller says.

“We used to store all of our data in-house in file cabinets, and it was easy enough for someone to take a file and walk out and have that data,” Miller says. “Tech directors are realizing that it might not necessitate someone in-house managing that if they can ensure that the companies they’ve partnered with are adhering to the strictest guidelines.”

3. Cybersecurity Helps Schools Defend Against Growing Threats

Cybersecurity is such a hot topic in K–12 education that it’s garnered federal attention. The K–12 Cybersecurity Act is the first cybersecurity-focused law for K–12 institutions, signed by President Joe Biden in October. Its signing initiated a federal review of cyberthreats against districts, threats that have increased greatly since the shift to remote learning in 2020.

Some of the most popular cybersecurity tools to surface in response to these cyberattacks are next-generation protections powered by AI and ML. These include endpoint security solutions and next-generation firewalls. Security orchestration, automation and response tools specifically use automation to detect and remediate possible cybersecurity breaches. The automated component in SOAR helps make cybersecurity more manageable for understaffed IT teams in K–12 environments.

School districts are also being urged to incorporate multifactor authentication. Compared with other organizations, K–12 districts have been slower to implement this solution, says Doug Levin, national director for K12 SIX. Levin cites leadership hesitation as one of the primary hurdles IT administrators face in implementing MFA, which he notes is strongly recommended by his organization and the FBI.

MORE ON EDTECH: Protect your district from bad password hygiene.

“Ultimately, it is the single best protection against the vast majority of phishing and social engineering attacks against school districts,” he says. “School districts are particularly vulnerable to password reuse and password sharing. And, as a result, having another layer of defense there is really critical for them.”

4. Asynchronous Learning Gives Students More Freedom

With the shift to remote learning came the inclination for students to complete lessons and turn in projects on their own time. Asynchronous learning, particularly for older students, allows for more freedom and flexibility in the school day.

Although many students are back in the classroom and remote learning isn’t a necessity for most, some schools still offer asynchronous learning models. Being able to complete schoolwork on their own time, without being held to a 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. schedule, allows students to get jobs, participate in internships and even help their families by taking care of younger siblings.

EXPLORE: Asynchronous learning gains popularity following the pandemic.

While most popular with high school students, younger students can benefit from this learning model as well. “Management of your own learning is something that students of all age ages really need to learn, and they learn it pretty quickly,” says Mickey Revenaugh, vice president for business development and global online learning at Pearson Online Academy.

The additional freedom and self-sufficiency that comes with asynchronous learning doesn’t render educators obsolete. Rather, teachers can guide students through material when they struggle and help each learner achieve a higher level of understanding regarding the content.

5. Esports Programs Gain a Foothold in K–12

Esports programs are growing in K–12 districts as the competitions expand globally. The esports ecosystem is projected to reach $1.8 billion in revenue by 2022. Schools are helping students prepare for this lucrative field by starting their own esports programs at the K–12 level.

Similar to traditional sports, esports teams compete in tournaments and championships for prizes and prestige. There are scholarships for esports athletes at colleges and universities, and especially talented players can join a professional team.

Esports isn’t only about playing video games, however. Other students can support the team as content creators, organizers, strategists and entrepreneurs.

LEARN MORE: Level up your program with tech that supports the team behind the team.

Not everyone on an esports team aspires to make a career of playing. Teams are growing in school districts not just for the career possibilities, but because esports fosters a safe and diverse community of students who might not otherwise join a club or program at their school. The teams promote student engagement and can lead to educational and personal success.

Which of these trends is your district planning to explore in 2022? Follow EdTech on Twitter at @EdTech_K12 using the hashtag #K12TechTrends22 to learn more about popular educational technology all year.

Illustration by Olga Ubirailo/Getty Images, gradient by Pixelbuddha

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