Education Insights

Education news, trends, and highlights by Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft

Education trends to watch for in 2010

Education trends to watch for in 2010

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As I reflect on 2009…what did and did not come to full fruition since I wrote this post last year…and what lies ahead for the year 2010, many different trends and topics come to mind. I’ll try to distill my list down to a handful of key themes and thoughts I’ve developed from being on the road this year talking to school leaders, teachers and students….areas where I am encouraged we will see big impact.

Over the last 12 months, the economy has created a new paradigm for the way in which we think not only about technology, but resourcing in general. Schools will continue to feel pressure from the down economy worldwide to drive the connection between school and work in terms of making sure students are prepared for the workplace and that new job opportunities are being created. There is belief the economic stimulus efforts will fuel innovation in the industry, and many countries are betting on education to drive change and hope for the future.

And despite this challenge and need to reduce budgets and lower expenses…the expectations of faculty, staff and students continues to rise in terms of wanting IT to deliver now…and the ability to use technology to serve this demand is increasing. Certainly, cloud computing and virtualization options provide huge opportunities to extend and enable technology much more broadly, and I think we’ll see software plus services become more prevalent and real in the coming year.

The significance of using analytics to drive decisions will mount. It’s crucial to identify where impact is happening and how can we deliver personalized learning through assessments and customized content, as well as using education analytics to drive decision making across institutions in a broad way. I think we will see a shift from the search for display to the search for answers with regards to data.

I am excited about the possibilities of getting more people access to PCs on a variety of devices…from netbooks and other low-cost devices…to finding a way to allow access to the devices both at school and in the home. I think there will be increased flexibility and innovation with regards to funding and acquisition strategies.  I definitely see governments moving away from traditional school purchase plans to much more broad tax structures, as well as support of Telco models to create acquisition strategies or access without having to go through the school.  And the ways in which we will interact with a PC via non-traditional form factors such as touch, speech and pen-based computing will become more of the norm.

Blended learning is a buzzword now, but I think over the next year you'll see increased experimentation with these models where you have students inside a traditional school taking online classes, and vice versa…online students getting much more support and instruction via traditional teachers or traditional learning models.  I think there will be increased usage of content customization tools to personalize and augment content to support specific learning needs.

The concept of lifelong learners is creating vast opportunities to expand the way in which we think about delivering content...increased utilization of the mobile infrastructure is one area. There are more and more mobile devices and smarter mobile devices in the hands of students, educators and learners of all types.  For the most part they've had very little connection to the traditional learning environment or content delivery environment.  With the proliferation of devices, I think we’ll see more and more online reading taking place on traditional mobile devices, as well as new education applications.  In the short term, I think a lot of it will be reference based, like online dictionaries, online translators, etc., via phones, but increasingly it will be more content based.

Lots of potential…however, I think for the most part 2010 will bring a much more pragmatic application of the technology infrastructure that exists and much more accountability with regards to the results.  I think the economic strain is going to create a situation where schools are going to have to do more with less in a real way.  They're going to have to derive more impact under the technology investment they've already made.  They're going to have to do a better job of managing educators' time to be more effective with learning outcomes, and they're going to have to deliver more value with regards to the quality of the education in terms of impact on job opportunities and workforce readiness.

I’m still optimistic about the headway we can make in 2010 in realizing true transformation in education. What do you think will make the most impact?

Comments
  • I don't particularly think that 2010 will bring any miraculous changes with regards to transforming the educational structure, but I do believe that the discussion will continue to mount and become all the more prevalent. Part of the problem is that changing anything in education to a large degree fails because everyone has a strong cultural connection to the organization. This makes paradigm shifts much more difficult than in the private sector. The key is (as you allude to) the economy is going to force the hand of nationwide ed reform.

    I foresee states starting to talk more and more about Netbooks for students in the coming years. They are cheaper than PC's, students can utilize cloud computing to save hard drive space, and online textbooks are becoming more and more prevalent. In addition, these online texts are more up-to-date simply because publishers can complete updates on web-based applications without notifying the subscribers (though they will to prove this point). I also think that the infrastructures of schools will be built to handle these types of advancements.

    The shift will happen. The problem is that it is taking too long and we will have students graduating in 2018 with skills that will push students graduating in 2010 out of jobs all because we didn't act fast enough.

  • The "Race to the Top" federal grants will provide a focal point for bringing in technology integration tools within the classroom/learning environment.

    I just read Developing Hybrid Learning Environments by Aaron Eyler This blog post impresses me in showing realistically what we can accomplish in 2010. Our classrooms have exceeded the walls, but the educational community at large is still blinded by traditional methods of learning.

    Either we evolve with our technology and learning or will perish under the weight of failures with our children’s legacy.

  • My company, Southside Solutions, is producing some of the software needed to bring our classrooms into the 21st century; including desktop titles that retrieve reference data from the cloud and a family of client side software to teach and test new vocabulary skills.  Some of our offerings are free.  Others do retail for modest fees.  We are improving the education process as a whole by integrating modern technology our children know and use with old paradigms and proven methods of learning.  We concentrate on promoting research, grammar and linguistics.  These areas are key to developing higher cognitive capabilities, comprehension and visualization skills; particularly in the earlier stages of adolescence.

  • Location, location, location.  Students are getting  involved in (local to global) decision-making processes using digital maps and satellite imagery in the classroom and at home. Spinning 3D globes shows them where things are, but then an increasing number of students are moving on to simple (and free) GIS technology such as ArcGIS Explorer, to try to learn more about WHY things (pollution, poverty, immigration, drought,...) are where they are. This "geographic method" is contributing to science classes of all types, not only social science.

  • Connecting Students, Teachers, and Curriculum through 24/7 availability.  Using Live@EDU applications and Sharepoint as a bridge for learning management outside of the 50 minute class period.  We are even looking at a model that uses these tools for allowing students to be off-site 80% and on-site 20% for selected classes.   This will free up physical classrooms and prevent costly building projects during these difficult economic times.

  • As Richard Louv stated in "Last Child in the Woods," students are still suffering from "Nature Deficit Disorder".  In other words, they have very little connection to their environment and community.  It is essential that outdoor education be included in each student's education, even if the "outdoors" are the students' campus and nothing more.  As the 21st Century is making abundantly clear, our economic stability is tied to sustainable environmental practices.  Technologies such as GPS and GPS can enliven outdoor education.

  • As a local Board of Ed member, I suspect that the current economic turmoil will drive administrators and Boards of Education to focus far more attention on measuring the benefits and payback on their technology investments, much as corporate CFOs refocused after the profligate Y2K/ERP/dotcom spend of the 90s. Education Analytics will be important as a feedback mechanism to Boards and communities on the effectiveness of their schools and return on investment, in addition to facilitating NCLB and RTI compliance.

    Another trend - again reminiscent of the corporate environment a decade ago - will be maximizing the return on tech investments already made before embarking on new initiatives.  Our board will be much more interested in wringing additional capabilities out of existing systems and deepening student facility with existing technologies than in new capital projects.

    Finally, as districts struggle to retain headcount and student/teacher ratios, there will be additional interest in infrastructure outsourcing, SAAS, and cloud computing solutions.  Our most important challenge in the upcoming budget cycle will be figuring out how to carve out and reduce non-core, non-classroom operating costs.

  • Hi Anthony

    First i want to congratulate you for your blog.

    About your question: in my opinion 2010 will be a fantastic year for 2 different reasons: First i think we will assist the introduction of education initiatives in several developing countries, they see this is the way to shrink the gap between them and developed countries. And second, the so call websquared (web2.0 is history) will and is producing content in way of learning unimaginable only 2 years ago.

    So we have a long way to go, but we are moving faster than ever!

    a good year for all

    kind regards from Portugal!

    Adelino Sousa

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