Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

Summary: Here's hoping I'm more accurate than I was last year.


Earlier this week I wrote about five major technologies that should have had real impacts in education this year, but which never amounted to much. I called more than one of them out a year ago, when all signs pointed to their potential for disruption and transformation in 2011. I can't resist giving it another shot this year, though. Here are my top 5 predictions for the state of the art in Ed Tech in the coming year.

Analytics and BI will go mainstream In a former life, I was a SAS programmer doing data management and statistical analysis for clinical trials. SAS is still going strong in large-scale, mission critical statistical programming, but much of its business focus is now on analytics and business intelligence (BI). IBM just launched an initiative to promote education, training, and research at the university level in the fields. For those not familiar with them, BI and BA apply complex business rules and enable decision-making based on the analysis of very large data stores.

Both companies (and many others, although SAS and IBM are arguably the market leaders) have products geared towards making these tools available, relevant, and usable in the education space, where the amount of data we now collect on our students is growing exponentially, both because of federal and state requirements and because most educators realize that data-driven instruction is a powerful tool for improving outcomes. In education, these tools can pick out at-risk students based on wide-ranging data before they ever hit the radar of a guidance counselor.

The data are in place, the technologies are in place, and NCLB and RTTP have conditioned educators to think about data (no matter what else, good or bad, you may think of them). 2012 will see an explosion in the real use of analytics to assist schools and districts in improving quality and outcomes. I'm not talking about reviewing yearly standardized test scores here. I'm talking about the confluence of formative and summative assessments, demographic data, and many other bits of information, all of which are now available electronically and ready to be mined. It's worth noting that EDUCAUSE was filled with vendors holding up the latest and greatest tools for data mining, aggregation, management, and analysis and Oracle resorted to showgirls standing next to geeks demoing software at both BBWorld and EDUCAUSE.

Google's tablet will NOT be the holy grail of 1:1 A reader emailed me the other day and asked me if I thought that Google's tablet, expected for release before fall 2012, would finally make tablet-based 1:1 initiatives a reality. The answer was no. Although I'm sure the tablets will be great pieces of hardware and software and I'm sure that I'll get one, the predicted $500 price point is just too high. Sure, Google Apps integration will be very strong, as will the management features that go with it, but at that price, you could have an iPad.

While I'm not saying that iPads are better for education than other tablets, I am saying that they have a major foothold in the growing market. Even iPads, though, are only making it into well-funded districts at scale. The only thing that could disrupt the current market and current trends in 1:1 would be a very inexpensive tablet (<$300) with all the management features and a content ecosystem that would finally make the ideal of a "tablet in every backpack" a reality.

Google's move to drop the price of Chromebooks this year and provide enterprise, web-based management consoles for the slick little laptops suggests, as well as innovative rental models for schools and businesses, however, suggests that they may have a few tricks up their sleeves. The Google tablet won't be the holy grail of 1:1, but I'm hopeful that it will be a step in the right direction.

BYOD will make 1:1 possible in a big way In the face of miserable budgets and no end in sight to a stagnating economy, school/state-funded 1:1 will not be sustainable in the majority of school districts. Worldwide sales of Classmate PCs to education ministries remain strong, but this relies on a very different educational model than that employed here in the States. At the college level, where a computer is a necessity for students, only a tiny fraction of schools supply a laptop as part of a student's tuition. Instead, students bring their own, often selecting from specially negotiated prices with major OEMs. It's time K12 schools followed suit.

Again, there is a confluence of factors that will make BYOD the 1:1 model of choice for 2012 (a model, by the way, that will get devices onto a lot more desks and into a lot more student hands in the classroom this year). The emergence of inexpensive devices like the Kindle Fire, despite its lack of manageability, means that tabets will become increasingly commonplace for for students, making instant access to the Internet and a variety of content easily achieved. AMD is promising inexpensive alternatives to Intel's ultrabooks and prices continue to fall on remarkably usable laptops.

Similarly, great platforms for e-learning, ranging from Moodle 2.3 to the new and improved Google Apps, to a growing ecosystem of tablet apps mean that schools have more reason than ever to leverage all of those devices that are sitting in student bedrooms but often aren't allowed in classrooms. Finally, robust security and filtering solutions (including tablet integration) from companies like LightSpeed mean that the risks formerly posed by outside devices are increasingly being mitigated both on- off-campus.

Khan Academy, et al, will give publishers and mainstream educators a run for their money Many teachers and students have leapt at the opportunities provided by Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, and other free and open educational tool available online, assigning them as homework, using them for flipped classes, suggesting them as resources for study and remediation, and even integrating them into their curricula just as they would multimedia tools that come with their textbooks. Others struggle with the idea that Khan and others represent competition. For the latter group, rest video can replace an awesome teacher in class. Awesome teachers, though, use whatever resources they can find to ensure that their students "get it", whatever "it" might be. The teachers who should be worried are those who aren't, for lack of a better word, awesome. Awesome teachers are engaged mentors to whom students will look for guidance as they navigate the muddy waters of information on the Internet, among other places.

The real moral of this story, though, is that enough teachers are turning to the Internet and open resources (including great open source texts available from organizations like that traditional publishers have no choice but to stand up and take notice. This will be a battle of Darwinian proportions (i.e., survival of the fittest); open resources will no doubt coexist for years to come with proprietary resources from mainstream publishers. But we're talking about a multibillion dollar industry here. It doesn't take much of a dent to start shaving millions off of profit margins.

We will say goodbye to a lot more libraries and hello to a lot more information A local prep school dumped its library about two years ago in favor of a media center replete with computers, Kindles, and an espresso bar (yes, an espresso bar - it's a prestigious school). Administration took a lot of flack, not because the library was well-used (it wasn't) but because a lot of people didn't like the idea that the notion of a library was changing. Now, with far less controversy, Johns Hopkins University is closing its historic medical library in a few short days. Library staff had already transitioned from traditional librarian roles to that of so-called "informationists." Modern library science degree programs are far more concerned with accessing information than the Dewey Decimal System.

Add to that growing space constraints, emerging 1:1 programs that are far easier to justify if they can reduce reliance on dead trees, and nearly ubiquitous availability of journals and books in electronic formats and you have a recipe for converting libraries as we know them now to anachronisms. This isn't a bad thing as long as the misson of school libraries can be to make students discerning seekers and users of information. In fact, moving to information-based rather than book-based models could cause a renaissance for libraries. This renaissance simply doesn't need to involve acquiring larger expensive collections of paper; it needs to involve drastically increasing the amount of time students spend in libraries developing their critical thinking and information access skills.

Topics: Tablets, Apps, Enterprise Software, Google, Hardware, IBM, iPad, Laptops, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    Seriously? The latest numbers from the tablet sectorshow that roughly 40% of tablet purchasers don't Want an iPad and those numbers are growing.

    I doubt Analytics hit the mainstream considering that finding SAS Experts is quite expensive and school systems don't like to pay.

    As for BYOD, Education is largely that way noe, if you want to use tech you are likely bringing your own.
    • Once again some more....

      @Peter Perry .. Who did this study? Any likely bias involved? What was the exact wording of the question and or questions? Like "steering" an answer has EVER been done in the past right? What was the sampling? Geeks who live in their mothers basement or an actual cross section of people's from coast to coast. You know anything that might effect the final tally. Was a scientific method used? Or not... Do you know any of these answers and did you even ask these questions or did it just sound good to you so it must be so?<br><br>Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

        @James Quinn Yeah, seriously. There is nothing quite like making numbers up to support your own opinion. Perhaps if they asked long-time Amazon Kindle customers whether they wanted an iPad or a Fire, they might get that response ratio.
    • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

      @Peter Perry
      The BYOD movement in education is not universal. Many feel that it promotes the digital divide if schools do not play the role of the great equalizer.
      Hap -
  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    Have you reviewed CSCOPE technology centric program that many Texas ISDs are using
  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    And what is this fixation with 1:1? Have you read any of Sugata Mitra's research? Why do you want 1:1 if you have?

    There's so much nonsense about all of this. Get over it. 1:1 is NOT the answer and probably never has been. In fact, Mitra's research shows that learning is enhanced when you DON'T have 1:1. And in action research in my own school, this is supported. Teachers who use 4:1 and set it up using Mitra's principles talk about how much better learning goes.
    • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

      This is clearly in line with research we have seen in Alberta. Several to one ratios lead to more effective learning outcomes for most students than 1:1. Students learn collaboration skills as well as keep each other better on task than when students work in isolation. This finding is also in line with the underlying principle that knowledge is a social construct. When it is constructed socially, it has more relevance and has more persisting value for the learner.
      Peter Malcolm
  • #1 Trend: Litigation will top R&D

    The tech future will be dominated by 100% litigation. Tech companies will spend all their times bitching on patents and law suits. The next generation of IT workers won't even know what R&D means. America will drop out of the tech industries. A reverse brain drain will happen, a few Americans who still know writing some programming scripts will emigrate in countries where patent laws favor innovation and true creativity. The remaining majority stay behind, using their tablets and smart phones to fight each other in a national scale court room drama to decide who is going to receive the next food donation from Somalia.
    • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    Under the Khan Academy section, there appears to be no follow-up explanation. Is this indeed the full text of the article? (I can see the Khan Academy statement as being stand-alone, but still, that seems rather abrupt.)
  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    I'm always a sucker for prediction pieces, and it does take professional courage to go out on a limb like that :) I've offered my counterpoint thoughts at my blog, which can be read here:
  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    if you are talking about the school I think you are talking about - in Ashburnham? - the library was well-used before and it had an amazing non-fiction section. Dismantling it was heart-breaking. Not only that - they struggled with having reliable, consistent technology that, unlike books, went down during snowstorms, etc... I wouldn't predict the death of libraries just yet.
  • Google???s tablet? $500?? Crazy! ....

    Screw the I-Pad too, you can get a lap top for that much, and actually less, that will do work. I have done on-line homework in math, I don't see that happening with a Pad or Tablet, least not easily. Sure, carry a keyboard. But the laps *got* the board attached, screen tilts ... I'm taking programming classes, I don't see that happening on a Pad or Tablet at all.

    Sure, for reading a pad or tablet works but if doing more you'll be into spending just as much, or less, on something to do work.

    [b]Khan Academy, et al,[/b]
    Will suffer what automated learning systems suffer, and will always suffer: A student doesn't get it, too bad, the system will only repeat itself. Sometimes a student only needs the subject turned a tiny bit to see how they need to look at something, I haven't seen a program able to turn any at all.

    [b]We will say goodbye to a lot more libraries and hello to a lot more information[/b] and 'computers' will continue to make students dumber. Because information is everywhere students don't see the point in memorization. But a Doctor better not have to look up what to do for arterial spray, or a technician Ohms Law, or a carpenter how to determine the length for a cross measure, or ....

    Then: There were problems on the line, I asked the 'engineer' how he determined the item giving us problems, his reply was "the computer did it for me". There was no use talking to him.

    Thing is, after someone understands how things work, the mechanics behind something, there is no problem letting 'the machine do it for' them. But people aren't learning the mechanics, how to add and subtract, multiply or divide. They only know how to punch buttons and get an answer and thats all they want.

    While computers are great tools, sometimes even in the classroom, their overall effect is to make us dumber, and lazier and less curious.
  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    I hope you realize that not even the mighty Google search engine can reveal what the devil "1:1" means. If you like double-talk, well I guess this qualifies. I just wish bloggers (and other writers) would define these terms they toss off so carelessly. I've never seen the term before and haven't a clue what it means.
    • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

      @flboffin Amen! And just what the heck is 'noe'?

      Don Giovanni
    • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

      1:1 is a ratio. As in 1 computer per 1 student...
    • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012


      1:1 means that there is one machine per student. If you can't find that, then you need to work on your Googleing skills. You can't expect the machines to replace thinking for yourself.
    • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

      @flboffin 1:1 means a one to one student to computer ratio. BYOD - bring your own computer.
      Brian Tracy
  • RE: Top 5 Ed Tech predictions for 2012

    And now, we can't wait to hear what Apple January 2012 event is all about. Let's cross our fingers, hope it has something to do with textbooks. Mia @
  • Flack at Hopkins

    May want to check the Welch Medical Library homepage and click where it says "Important Message: Library Services Will Remain At Their Current Status. Click Here To Learn More..." They are not closing their doors as originally intended.

    "This renaissance simply doesn???t need to involve acquiring larger expensive collections of paper; it needs to involve drastically increasing the amount of time students spend in libraries developing their critical thinking and information access skills."

    I couldn't agree more. Closing the doors of libraries and making librarians difficult to access goes against the idea that students should spend more time in libraries developing their critical thinking and information access tools. With the massive paradigm shifts in the landscape of information, everyone could stand to update their information accessing skills. Librarians remain the experts on information collection development, storage, and retrieval. We are poised to teach but are also prepared to handle the really tough questions that require all our expertise which cannot be taught to the casual searcher. We don't need a new title to describe what we have always done. The idea that librarians are tied to books or a building is just silly. We have been around since scrolls and have remained updated through books, the printing press, records, tapes, dvds, computers, the internet, the cloud, and we always will stay updated on whatever format information takes. That's our job. The day that libraries close their doors will be a sad day indeed as it will mark the moment when information (resources) and expertise in information (services) are no longer accessible to everyone.
    Sarah Plain