Back to School: 4 Top EdTech Trends to Watch

Posted by Hedrick Ellis on July 23, 2014

The annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference is the biggest educational technology gathering in the U.S. This year’s ISTE conference, held in June in Atlanta, Georgia, set a new attendance record, drawing over 16,000 people from 67 countries. Here’s my take on hot trends from my time at the conference.

1. Augmented Reality

Imagine walking down the hallways of your school. You look up at the student artwork hung there, and suddenly images come to life (think Harry Potter’s Hogwarts)! Augmented reality (AR) can make that possible. According to Mashable.com, AR is “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” Many teachers are now working with students to incorporate AR into public displays of their work to create “living galleries.” How might you use this in your classroom? What about incorporating AR into a gallery walk to help students explore multiple images placed around the room in an examination of multiple historical documents. The app Aurasma was one recommended at the conference.

2. The Maker Movement

The maker movement taps into the inherent power of learning by doing, and refers to the trend of people employing do-it-yourself (DIY) techniques to develop unique products, often involving technology. Many teachers at the conference talked about embracing this movement as a way to foster problem-solving skills. In a Facing History classroom, we often study memorials and monuments as a way to discuss questions such as “Who gets to remember?” “How do we remember?” and “Why is it important to remember the past?” Creating monuments and memorials is often a capstone project in Facing History classrooms, as students grapple with issues of judgment, memory and legacy. New technologies like 3D printers, laser cutters, and easy-to-use design software enable the ability to “make” things. Check out the Make website for ideas on “making” in education.

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3. Infographics

Infographics dominate online in social media, on sites like BuzzFeed, and in print. At ISTE, educators were buzzing about how helpful they are in conveying short, easily digestible information about a larger topic. The availability of free tools make infographics easy to create, even for the “artistically-challenged” like me! When studying the history of Weimar Germany, a Facing History classroom might consider including infographics as part of a silent conversation to note the time period's massive rate of inflation in a relatively short span of time, and how these economic forces impacted German politics of the day (check out an example of an infographic at ArmchairAdvocates.com).

Two popular tools for creating infographics are Easel.ly and Piktochart.

4. Google Classroom

Keeping track of student work is often a challenge for teachers. Google Classroom,officially launching in August, will enable teachers to send assignments to students, make announcements, create polls, and organize their folders by assignment or by student. Educators were excited about the potential for this new tool. Check out Google Classroom and other tools from the Google Apps for Education suite of tools for ideas.

What edtech tools are you using or thinking about using in your Facing History classroom? Comment below!

Topics: Social Media, EdTech, Media Skills, Online Learning, Critical Thinking, Facing Technology

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