Digital Classrooms: Five Trends to Watch in 2018

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2017 was a big year for digital classrooms. Mobile first digital learning spread throughout K-12 districts nationwide, and it also saw an also explosion of IoT-powered devices—for almost everything related to learning. From Apple TV in the classroom to a weather station for the science lab; the automation of tedious tasks, such as taking attendance, via location-based technologies; and the growing use of big data to help personalize learning, IoT was the name of the game.

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We see five key technology trends for 2018 that promise to deliver significant impacts in classrooms and across districts.

  1. No end in sight for IoT. Whether in classrooms or throughout your facilities, IoT-enabled demands will only accelerate in 2018. For instance, learning to write computer code that results in a new "thing" on your network for each student project, be it a gaming device or a robot. And that's hardly all. As school networks include new devices like 3D printers and lawn sprinkler sensors, segmented, secure connections are essential to control network traffic and keeping educational applications safe.
  2. Security gets smarter. Last fall, the Department of Education warned K-12 districts about the rise of cybercriminals who are targeting schools with schemes such as extortion, where bad actors use ransomware to take sensitive student data hostage and demand compensation. Earlier this year, the FBI released a notification to schools warning them of threats to schools by a group known as TheDarkOverlord (TDO). The security clock is ticking in every district, making it imperative to invest in security tools designed to help identify and remediate threats faster than ever.
  3. Digital realities become classroom realities. A year made all the difference between "novelty" and "applicability" for augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR). Across the curricular landscape , 2018 will bring relevant applications for AR/VR, such as placing students inside of biological specimens or transporting them back in time to experience historical events. The downside? Significantly increased network traffic that IT teams need to manage effectively to keep all types of learning projects humming.
  4. IT goes utility. Another trend that will rev up in 2018 is shifting away from the traditional premises-based IT model and toward purchasing and managing IT infrastructure from the cloud. With technology delivery advances and cost-effectiveness, moving the cost of IT infrastructure into operating budgets are becoming more attractive than asking taxpayers for major capital funding every three to five years.
  5. New K-12 paradigms arise from regional disasters. Just as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita forever changed educational paradigms when districts rebuilt from the ground up, in 2018 we'll see a similar—but more widespread—phenomenon. Districts hit by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria—or consumed by West Coast wildfires—will begin adopting new educational models which will ultimately affect education nationwide for years to come.

Now that you're armed with the insight into key digital classroom trends, the next step is to create a game plan on how to best exploit this knowledge.

Ready to go deeper? Read my article in EdTech Digest to learn which strategies K-12 IT staffs are using to take full advantage of these trends and their potential for boosting educational and organizational effectiveness.