Educational Techn0logy Predictions for 2016

by Kristie Burk

Happy (almost!) New Year. I am looking forward to the start of 2016. Every year, I take this time to think about what has happened in the last year, but I also like looking ahead.Here are some of the things I predict we’ll be talking about even more this coming year:

  • eBooks – the line between textbooks and websites will become very blurry as ebooks grow in popularity and become more interactive. In fact, the US Department of Education’s 2016 National Technology Education Plan advises districts to focus on “replacing commercially licensed textbooks with openly licensed educational resources.” Earlier this year, I talked about some good resources here and here.
  • Blended models – The US Department of Education’s 2016 National Technology Education Plan also recommends states, districts, and post-secondary institutions explore blended learning models, including hybrid classes like the ones offered at Downingtown Ivy Academy, flipped classrooms, and station rotation models.  Learn about the different blended models here.
  • Games in the classroom – The blur between electronic games and learning will continue. For example, Minecraft partnered with to offer students a chance to learn how to code with Minecraft. At the ISTE conference in Philadelphia this past summer, the line was out the door and down the hall for a workshop on using Minecraft in the classroom. Educators around the world are thinking of new and innovative ways to capture students’ fascination with online games to help them learn. Here are three ways to use Minecraft in the classroom.
  • Competency-based (Mastery) learning – In 2016, more schools will be exploring competency-based learning, which goes hand-in-hand with technology.  Customization and personalization for students allow children to progress at their own pace, but they must demonstrate mastery of a skill or academic content before continuing. You can read here how one Spanish teacher is using Schoology’s student completion functions to introduce competency-based learning in his classroom.
  • Makerspaces – a Makerspace is a place where students can use a variety of tools (littlebits, Legos, art supplies, etc.) to create something out of nothing. They’re becoming popular because they foster creativity and entrepreneurship; some are even being used as incubators and accelerators for business startups.
  • More ways to earn college credit online– Earlier this Arizona State University announced a partnership with EdX, which will allow the University to offer freshmen the opportunity to earn full college-credit for the year by completing a series of completely online courses. Why is this program unique? There is no admissions process and students can choose to earn ASU credit for the course by paying $200 per credit after they’ve completed the course.
  • Drones – The Downingtown Area School District has been using drones to get some great shots of kids going to school on the first day and football games. As drones become more ubiquitous, creative teachers will think of even more ways to use them in the classroom.
  • Virtual reality – more virtual reality devices like Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift are making it into the market; it’s only a matter of time before they become a reality in the classroom.  Imagine if you were doing a lesson on Egypt and could have your students virtually explore inside a pyramid!
  • 3D printing – NASA is currently experimenting to see if it can use 3D printers when space explorers venture far from Earth; the astronauts can create an on-demand supply chain for needed tools and parts. Explore some great ways to use 3D printers in the classroom here and here.

Do you think we left anything off this list? Let us know at


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