3 Technology Trends That Will Transform Education

July 24, 2013 Michael Kahn

I recently attended LAUNCH: Education and Kids, an industry leading conference at Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View. With the focus on K-12, higher education, and kid-centric startups, there were several industry leading companies showcasing their innovation in the space.

The education space is abuzz with three major technology trends that are changing the landscape. These trends are highly disruptive, as they offer more customization for teachers/parents and learning is more interesting and engaging for students. Traditional publishers will need to re-think their offering, as printed educational materials may soon be a thing of the past.

Trend #1: Early childhood education through online & mobile learning

There’s no arguing that children love tablets. Adoption is very high by school boards and parents have been using them with their children at home as well. This truly makes learning fun for students and increases overall engagement. Exciting examples from the conference include niche products like LocoMotive Labs, for children with special needs, and Motion Math, for learning math through fun games.

Innovative online education services such as ABCmouse.com offer early childhood education available online focusing on reading, math, science, music, art and more. The platform and curriculum allows for customized and independent learning and continues to gain traction in schools and homes.

Trend #2: Free and open education

Services like CK-12, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy and the Massive Open Online Courses feature rich content and free, open education for all.

CK-12 is one of the most disruptive companies highlighted at Launch. The company is a non-profit and provides completely free resources for educators, parents, and students. Users can create their own high-quality ‘textbooks’ called FlexBooks. The content is rich, interactive, customizable and very high quality. CK-12 is hardly alone as this trend is growing – Coursera is another big player in combining education with technology.

During a fireside chat with Jason Calacanis, founder of LAUNCH, Coursera’s co-founder Daphne Koller highlighted how Coursera uses data and analytics to track everything on the Coursera platform to continue to improve the experience and understand how humans learn. Koller discussed overall adoption, clarified some misconceptions about completion rates, and provided insights into the university partnerships and the overall growth of Coursera. She also highlighted how 40% of the students on Coursera are from the developing world, demonstrating how Coursera is meeting the needs for higher learning at home and abroad. Coursera partners with international universities to offer more courses in multiple languages, indicating that the demand is global and that Coursera plans to be a global learning platform.

Trend #3: Workbooks are now Tablets

Complementing the first two trends is the rise in tablet-based education inside and outside the classroom. According to this Google infographic, 70% of college students planned to purchase an e-textbook in 2013. Complementing that trend, OpenColleges produced research showing that 80% of teachers think tablets can improve classroom learning.

With this type of demand from both sides of the desk, there’s good reason for companies like Amplify to believe that the classroom of the future will be tablet-based. Amplify has developed an innovative tablet-based solution for K–12 education. Tablet-based learning drives engagement, allows for quicker feedback and real-time monitoring of students’ progress.

Not only are textbooks being replaced by more accessible alternatives – now, education will start earlier than ever, and will be more widely available. I’m extremely excited to be a part of the disruptions that are happening, as well as to have the opportunity to further drive these improvements. I only wish some of these innovations were around when I was learning from the screechy chalkboard, clunky overhead projector, illegible notebooks and cumbersome textbooks.

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