Top 3 EdTech Trends for 2018

EdTech trends change at a rapid pace. This affects both the tools students use, how they use tools, and how educational needs are met. When you look at the ISTE timeline for the adoption of EdTech in schools, 2016 marked the transition from using technology to learn to transformative learning with technology.

How has it been going? Are we there yet? To find out, we studied our Top 3 EdTech Trends for 2017 and evaluated them for 2018:

  • Student-Centered Focus—EdTech enables students to transform their own learning.
  • Thoughtful Integration by Teachers—Teachers are a dynamic force for change when supported by ongoing professional development on technology integration.
  • Informed Decisions by Leadership—A recipe for success includes a clear, bold vision, along with investment in teams, empowerment of teachers, and effective communication to get stakeholder buy-in.

Let’s take a deeper dive on each of these key trends.

Student-Centered Focus

The EdTech trends for 2017 are all about the student, and this trend should continue into 2018. EdTech has changed in that new technology has created online tools that allow students to transform their own learning. Watch for additional tools and platforms that extend and emphasize Personalized Learning. Personalized Learning tailors instruction to each student’s unique specific needs and learning preferences through face-to-face teaching, technology assisted instruction, and collaboration.

Personalized learning coupled with a continuing focus on project-, problem-, and challenge-based learning will also foster student-centered learning and student empowerment. We will likely see continued expansion in the implementation of online tools to facilitate the student’s ability to

  • interact with other students both locally and globally,
  • work in collaborative groups, and
  • develop solutions to real-world problems.

Students will no longer be just consumers of knowledge. They will now have the tools to actually create knowledge as they direct their own learning to address real-life applications.

Thoughtful Integration by Teachers

Student centered learning can only happen if teachers are thoughtfully integrating technology into their teaching and curriculum. In 2017, we saw a growing awareness of the importance of ongoing professional development for teachers around teaching with technology and the need for coaches to help teachers with technology integration. This was an outcome of the wildly popular edchat and edcamp movements that use social media to bring together educators from around the globe to share ideas on a topic of interest. In 2018, look for new professional learning models, along with a focus on the role and responsibilities of the instructional technology coach coming to the forefront. We also expect to see:

  • more sites that provide easy access to EdTech best practices and methods for disseminating transformative ideas, and
  • more organizations that provide this type of professional development.

Technology that is likely to have the greatest impact on teaching this year is virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). A 2016 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey report shows that even though almost 80% of teachers have access to virtual reality devices, only about 6.9% of teachers are using them. This is despite the fact that 93% of teachers from the same survey said their students would be excited to use virtual reality.

2018 could be the year for things to change. We should see a rise in the number of teachers taking a blended learning approach as they incorporate VR and AR into their traditional lesson plans. At ISTE 2017, teachers and education leaders saw how these platforms can transport students to places they could not otherwise experience, such as the Roman Colosseum or inside a water molecule. The key will be to ensure that teachers continue to first consider what their learning goals are for students, and then to design a learning experience that uses the unique capabilities of these tools to serve that goal, as laid out in the ISTE Standards.

Source: Infographic created by Virtual Reality Brief.

With students increasingly using technology in all aspects of their lives, teachers now have the added responsibility of preparing students to live, learn, and work in an interconnected digital world. Teaching students to be good Digital Citizens who “act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical,” as stated in the ISTE Student Standards, will be more important this year than ever. The use of educational technology also requires that students have a new literacy standard—a digital literacy standard that is based on coding. Coding could become the handwriting or typing of the future as students engage in activities in which it is required. It will also be an essential component for the student as knowledge creator.

Informed Decision-Making by Leadership

A key factor in how effectively teachers can transform student learning through technology is the decisions being made by school leadership. As superintendents lead a school through a digital transformation, they must be able to articulate a clear, bold vision, invest in teams, empower teacher leadership, and effectively communicate to get stakeholder buy-in. In 2018, we will see more resources being devoted to helping school leadership through this transition and dealing with such issues as digital equity and the homework gap.

Decisions made at the state level about assessment will also impact what is happening in the classroom and the EdTech that is being used. The past year saw states ramping up for a new educational reality under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which gives far greater leeway and oversight to states. In 2018 states will get their ESSA plans off the ground and make important tactical decisions. States’ approaches to assessment will prove to be key harbingers of instructional changes to come. Watch for increased focus on performance assessment throughout K–12 and for better proxies for postsecondary preparation and readiness at the high school level. The assessment instruments that states ultimately choose will offer clues as to what emerging definitions of 21st-century “success” will look like. These decisions will also have major implications for content providers and publishers in the short term.

Further Reading

Messy, Hectic, and Exciting: A Very Ambitious Statewide Personalized Learning Experiment

The Shifting Textbook Adoption Market

A recent White House report states that the textbook market is valued at about $7-8 billion, with California, Florida, and Texas being the key adoption states. However, the textbook adoption market is changing.

The Old-School Textbook Adoption Buying Pattern

In the past, publishers focused most of their textbook development efforts on two states: Texas and California. Textbooks for these two states would often become templates for textbooks sold nationally, but according to a recent EdWeek article, California and Texas no longer dictate content in textbooks. Currently, there are 19 states that adopt textbooks in a variety of curriculum areas, and publishers are finding that these individual states want customized textbooks.

What Factors are Driving Change in Textbook Adoption?

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ELL Students and the Digital Experience

Schools continue to move toward digital lessons and digital experiences for students. Most students are digital natives and are comfortable in this world. However, not all students have equal access. How does the digital revolution affect ELL students?

Some ELL students are very comfortable with technology and how it works, while others are using it for the first time. Digital lessons, however, abound in the classroom. Across content areas, culminating activities in lessons often ask students to do more research on the Internet, use graphics in their reports, cite resources, and create digital slideshows. These types of activities are designed to help students acquire and adopt skills needed for 21st-century work. And a survey by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop shows that Hispanic-Latino families want their children to have these skills.

Access Starts with the Directions

However, there are several roadblocks for ELL students. Most educational websites and software tools provide directions only in English, which poses a barrier for ELL students. If they cannot follow the directions, ELL students may struggle to complete assignments and fall behind their peers. Situations such as this can easily lead to frustration and might make ELL students reluctant to use digital devices in the classroom. So how can we scaffold learning for ELL students in digital lessons?

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To Customize or Not to Customize, That’s the Question

According to a 2016 White House report, the U.S. spends over $1.3 trillion on education expenditures. And the instructional materials market for K-12, which includes state adoptions, is over $19 billion. In large states, such as Texas, it makes sense to customize a national program. With smaller states, a calculation needs to be made: does the potential revenue justify the expense of customization? What’s the best way to customize for a specific state?

Start with Gap Analysis

The first step is a gap analysis to analyze the state standards. For example, in Texas, we would compare the TEKS to the standards the national program was aligned to, usually the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This is a bit ironic, given that Texas never adopted CCSS. A gap analysis relative to CCSS is a tool you can use again and again as you develop plans for the many states that are moving away from CCSS or adapting it to create their own customized standards. Ultimately, the gap analysis answers important financial questions about the scope of work required for a successful customized program.

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Guided Deep Learning and the Future of Assessment

Victory’s spinoff metacog has been busy adding new features and functionalities. When companies look to incorporate metacog into their digital products, they want to know two things:

  1. How does metacog work?
  2. What can metacog help me do now that I couldn’t do before?

The answers to both questions lie in our unique approach to guided deep learning: machine learning steered by an understanding of real student outcomes.

Deep Learning

In education, deep learning is different from deeper learning, which is a pedagogical approach to instruction. In the world of Big Data, deep learning is an artificial intelligence (AI) approach that creates neural networks in which each “neuron” is a computer processor. This structure mimics how the human brain works in parallel processing.

Deep learning can be very effective, but it has a drawback: neural networks are so complex that we can’t know how they arrive at certain decisions. Continue reading

Pathways to Translation Solutions

To translate is defined as “to render or express in another language.” It also means to explain in simple language, to interpret or infer significance, and to transform or convert. A translation involves all of these aspects and more. Expert translation requires:

  • command of the source and target languages,
  • a deep understanding of the cultural context and nuances of both languages,
  • insightful knowledge of correlated idioms and etymology between the languages,
  • familiarity and experience in the subject matter, and
  • the ability to convey the same meaning expressed in the original message.

Can Machine Translation Do the Work?

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EdTech Round Up (May 2017)

By now, we know that EdTech is here to stay. Not only has “classroom” education expanded to include digital classrooms and smart technology, but pedagogical theories have found ways to embrace EdTech too. So EdTech isn’t just a trend, it’s a movement that touches just about every corner of teaching and learning. As these links from around the web show, educators and thinkers are finding new applications for technology.


Designers have rushed to align learning products with the buzzy idea of gamification, but what does gamification actually do to the learning process? While it’s important to understand more about key learning styles, engagement is likely the reason that gamification helps students process information more efficiently. And anecdotal evidence certainly points to increased student involvement and fun when games are involved.

Mobile Technology

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Curriculum Round Up


Curriculum is changing. Schools are moving towards competency-based assessment and personalized learning is becoming popular in many districts. Many states are moving away from the Common Core. All of these issues affect what is being taught in the classroom. How to keep up with the trends and movements? Here are some links to help keep you abreast of what is happening now.

Personalized Learning

Is it right for your students? Here’s a definition and explanation of personalized learning that will help you decide if it would work for your students.

Competency-based Assessment

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Building Curricula for Makerspaces

What’s the difference between makerspaces and other trends in EdTech?

Well, in fact makerspaces don’t just represent one trend but rather all of them. That’s because these hybrid computer labs/art studios/machine shops can encompass any educational device or technology a maker might want to put into them. The sky’s the limit, and more schools and libraries are beginning to take notice and incorporate makerspaces into innovative curricula.


What happens in makerspaces?

Makerspaces are places where learners can make things. Students are encouraged to:

  • create
  • experiment
  • tinker
  • collaborate

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