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Innovation

It's a girl! (or Ed Tech, 6 years hence)

Regular readers and followers of my Twitter feed will know that yesterday was pretty eventful. My wife and I (well, mostly my wife, but I did make some moderate contribution) had a baby girl who currently remains nameless (we're leaning toward Penelope, but she was delivered by c-section so we have a couple more days in the hospital to decide for sure), but is remarkably cute.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

Regular readers and followers of my Twitter feed will know that yesterday was pretty eventful. My wife and I (well, mostly my wife, but I did make some moderate contribution) had a baby girl who currently remains nameless (we're leaning toward Penelope, but she was delivered by c-section so we have a couple more days in the hospital to decide for sure), but is remarkably cute.

While her 4 older brothers will most likely prevent her from ever dating or wearing even vaguely contemporary clothing, she just happens to have been born in the midst of a fascinating time in educational technology. E-books are finally taking off, 1:1 is becoming both practical and realistic, social learning is taking off, and adaptive learning models are enabling self-paced and differentiated instruction like never before. It's a good time to be a student, and it's worth some thought about how much more interesting educational technology will become by the time this little girl hits Kindergarten.

As Jason Perlow congratulated me last night, we got to talking about this very topic. He was less than optimistic.

I predict that by kindergarten we still will be behind on eBooks...EBook readers will have matured tremendously but we'll have no free standardized ecurriculum for K-12. The european nations will be way ahead of us, as will asia...Google will be still fighting to get its content released in the US because our government is totally ineffective; however private industry will step up and release a lot of etexts.

I've edited and punctuated since we had this conversation via IM. I won't even repeat what he said about Nicholas Negroponte and OLPC 2.0.

My baby girl, however, was watching me type back and forth with him and it was hard not to be a bit more of a glass-half-full sort of guy (I know, she can't actually see much right now, but her eyes were open pointing towards me, so I say she was contentedly watching me). I agree with Jason that private industry will lead the e-textbook charge as more Nook-like devices come online.

However, I think the standards-based instructional models that are being widely implemented now will see considerable standardization, facilitated by easy dissemination of texts and supplemental materials via e-readers and Web applications. Common assessments, improved data collection, and pedagogical improvements in formative assessments will all fall out this movement within the next 5 years.

Social learning is already here in the form of sites like ePals and even learning management systems like Moodle. However, these tools will become ubiquitous in the next 5 years. Students will not use Facebook at home and just occasionally use social media in school. Social media will pervade our daily lives as much as specialized social systems will pervade education. Just as our personal and professional lives increasingly comingle through social media (for better or worse), so will our educational and personal lives. Interconnectedness of teachers, students, curricula, and materials will be enabled by truly rich web applications; video, voice, text, and data will all be readily accessible and searchable through unified web applications.

My final prediction is a bit more pie-in-the-sky, but I think I'm right. I'll have my nameless daughter and youngest son report back and let you all know if I'm right. However, I think that the semantic web will meet adaptive learning technologies. What does this mean? The so-called semantic web is a personalized experience based on our preferences, needs, and usage patterns. Adaptive technologies, like Smart.fm, will grow to create personalized learning environments that provide students with the resources, instructional materials, and standards development at levels appropriate to their needs rather than a specific grade level. We talk about differentiated instruction, but this will be the full realization of it in a web-based, data driven, highly automated way.

What are your predictions for 6 years from now? It seems like a short period of time, but it's an eternity in the tech years.

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