Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Five global tech trends that will change everything educational

Another of the sessions that I attended at ISTE 2013 was taken by Dr Jason Ohler; the title grabbed my attention, particularly in light of the NMC Horizon Report that I blogged about here and here. I thought it could be helpful to compare the trends and developments that different people/groups discerned on the horizon. It is a lasting regret that I was late to this session; what I heard was thoughtful, engaging and challenging.

Ohler identified five trends with the potential to be massively disruptive, influential and challenging for education. The trend were:

  • Big data (see learning analytics - the educational application of our capacity to crunch immense amounts of data to better understand learners, their needs and their learning. I missed this part of the address.)
  • Augmented reality (I missed most of this. I think it had to do with the ways that ICT would come to augment our everyday experience.)
  • the semantic web (Web 3.0 and 4.0) - Ohler made the point that increasingly search engines and social media are trying to anticipate our interests and provide us with the information that they think we want. The point is that these filters are operating below the surface and are potentially not transparent, accountable or beneficial. Do the big companies (ie Google) end up controlling and shaping what we know.
  • BYOD - this trend is only going to accelerate. It has financial impetus going for it, students want it and it integrates 'outside' life with school life. The standard operating environment will pass away. Somewhere along the way, we will need to teach ourselves and our students what the 'off' button is for!
  • Transmedia storytelling - there is an increasing convergence across various forms of media, whereby the website and online presence of a story is a significant player in shaping the story. Plot points, reveals, background data etc will all become increasingly available and necessary, engaging fans in deeper and deeper ways.
Some common themes emerged in these sessions and were echoed in lots of conversations, presentations and general vibe around the conference. BYOD is indubitably the main game for ICT resources in schools - our school is well positioned in this way, although it is messy and we are not yet leveraging the resource as much as is possible. The application of big data kept coming up as a concept but I did not come across too many educators enthused about it; there were a few exhibitors spruiking their wares in this space. The potentially sinister side of the semantic web is a real concern, in that searches and suggestions could increasingly become an echo chamber in which we keep on encountering and being fed the things that we already know.

No-one doubts, however, that technology is a game-changer for education, both in the way that it has changed the world of today and will change the world of tomorrow for which we educate young people, but also for the opportunities that it opens up for access to information, connection to others and amplification of learning. Exciting days!


  1. Hi Tim, great to read your reflections. I've been doing some thinking along similar lines for the AFES: how will technology change the University campus and therefore impact University campus ministry. I'm co-writing a strategy paper for the AFES board. So much is speculation but its clear we live in interesting times...

  2. Thanks Dan. As someone somewhere has said 'If you don't like change, you will like irrelevance even less!'