Predicting the future is difficult. But identifying elements of change in education today can provide clues for how things will develop in the near future.
The New Media Consortium's annual Horizon Report, now in its sixth year, is set to release its 2014 findings later this summer. A preliminary report from the consortium, released May 20, identifies six trends that are driving technology in today’s K–12 schools, including flipped classrooms and the expansion of open learning platforms.
The findings are broken down by how soon their impact is expected to be felt in the classroom.
Rethinking the role of teachers: The expansion of technological tools beyond the textbook learning environment is slowly reshaping teachers’ roles as guides and mentors, according to the report.
Shift to deep-learning approaches: Also known as real-life learning, or project-based learning, there is a growing trend toward connecting curriculum with real-life circumstances, giving context to everyday classroom exercises.
"The hope is that if learners can connect the course material with their own lives and their surrounding communities, then they will become more excited to learn and immerse themselves in the subject matter," the report explains.
Increasing focus on open content: One of the driving forces behind massive open online courses (MOOCs), open content encourages sharing information, including curricula, resources and learning materials, as well as instructional practices. According to the report, the goal of open content is to create a library of material that is "free of barriers to access, cultural sensitivities, sharing, and educational use."
Increasing use of hybrid learning designs: As the Internet of Everything makes its way into K–12 classrooms, more teachers are leveraging students' online skills by adopting teaching methods that use online components. Hybrid learning models, such as flipped classrooms, use the school day for group and project-based work, reserving after-school time studying instructional materials such as text and video.
Rapid acceleration of intuitive technology: Technological barriers are breaking down with the simplification of interfaces, such as touch screen technologies and motion-sensing cameras. As those barriers continue to fall, new educational activities will be developed to heighten learning, according to the report.
Redesign of the traditional school day: The expansion of project- and challenge-based learning approaches are reshaping the roles of teachers, calling for school day setups that enable students to move from one learning activity to another more organically, according to the report. New approaches to the school day are being developed to better connect each class with its subject matter.
For more on these trends, check out the full preliminary report online.