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CoSN 2015: The Emerging Tech That's Transforming K–12's Horizon

3D printing, drones and wearable tech are on the horizon for education.

3D printing is on course for vast expansion, and drones and wearable technologies could also become important pieces of education within five years.

Many attend CoSN's annual conference to get a sneak peek at what the future holds for education technology, and a Wednesday session from the New Media Consortium (NMC) put the future on display.

The organization was previewing the K–12 edition of its annual Horizon Report, which tracks emerging technologies and how they intersect with education. The full report isn’t due out until summer.

One of the key challenges educators face is how to integrate these technologies into education. That context is important for educators to understand in order to make decisions on the future, said CoSN's CEO Keith Krueger, at the outset of the session.

"Emerging technologies always draw a crowd. But as leaders we need to focus on solving real educational problems," he said.

But some of these technologies have already carved niches for themselves in today’s classrooms.

Among the more surprising results from the report preview was the exponential growth in workshops focused on 3D printing, commonly known as Makerspaces. Over the next several years, Makerspaces are projected to reach nearly a quarter of U.S. classrooms, says the NMC, and the technology is already beginning to reshape how classrooms function.

"The question of how to renovate or repurpose classrooms to address the needs of the future is being answered through the concept of Makerspaces," according to the report.

The Rothaugen School in Norway has led innovative drone-based physics experiments that NMC has tapped as a trend setter for education. The Horizon Report projects drones could have an impact on education by 2020.

Finally, the session offered attendees a glimpse at the timeline for these emerging technologies and when they are expected to arrive on the greater stage of education:

One year or less (2015–2016):

  • BYOD
  • Cloud computing
  • Makerspaces
  • Mobile learning

Two to three years (2017–2018):

  • 3D printing/rapid prototyping
  • Adaptive learning technologies
  • Information visualization
  • Learning analytics

Four to five years (2019–2020):

  • Badges/Microcredit
  • Drones
  • Visual data analysis
  • Wearable technology

The NMC’s interim K–12 Horizon Report can be downloaded for free.

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not correctly describe the origin of the term makerspace.

Corr/Thinkstock Images
Mar 18 2015