What’s Hot in Ed Tech for ISTE 2014

student_ipad_school - 233 by flickingerbrad, on Flickr

student_ipad_school – 233 by flickingerbrad, on Flickr

Trends in educational technology change as rapidly as the technology itself. While some fizzle out quickly, others crop up year after year, evolving as new developments and innovations arise.

Predicting what the trending topics will be at school’s end is tricky business, but ISTE 2014 Conference Program Director Camilla Gagliolo has a few ideas.

“I think a lot of educators are looking at technology as something that is now in the classroom and becoming a much more integrated tool, so there is less focus on the new technology, per se, and more on how it really enhancing learning in the classroom,” she said.

“What does it look like, and how do you set up a classroom to really become an interactive experience for your students?”

Gagliolo identified the following trends as potential hot topics for ISTE 2014:

Mobile Learning

Forecasts have declared 2014 as the year internet access from mobile devices will overtake desktop access. Not only is it incumbent upon educators to teach students how to thrive in an increasingly mobile world, but there’s no denying the vast potential mobile devices have to empower students as creators, discoverers and self-directed thinkers.

Educators aren’t the only ones raising their voices about the importance of mobile learning. A report by Grunwald Associates and the Learning First Alliance (with support from AT&T) found that:

  • 71 percent of parents believe mobile devices open up new learning opportunities for their children.
  • 70 percent of parents want teachers to help their kids discover educational apps.
  • 64 percent of parents believe schools should teach students to use mobile devices safely.
  • 52 percent of parents want schools to increase the use of mobile devices for learning.

While past mobile learning initiatives have focused on cell phones in the classroom, tablets are rising to the surface as the mobile device du jour. With schools and districts increasingly implementing 1:1 iPad programs, expect much of the mobile learning discussion to center on how to maximize this powerful learning tool, Gagliolo said.

Augmented Reality

On the heels of mobile learning comes a surging interest in augmented reality (AR), or the use of a real-world environment augmented by computer-generated sensory input. As a learning tool, augmented reality lets students explore and create with objects that would previously have been unavailable. Some educators have declared AR to be the future of ed tech.

“I think we’re going to start seeing quite a bit more interest in augmented reality and how that can be used in the classroom,” Gagliolo said.


With more than 90 percent of students under the age of 18 accessing mobile technology at home, bring your own device (BYOD) programs are increasingly allowing educators to meet the demands of digital age learning without overtaxing shrinking school budgets. In interviews with K–12 district IT staff, the Center for Digital Education found that 27 percent of decision makers intended to pursue BYOD policies.

Yet without extensive planning, proactive communication and ongoing evaluation, BYOD can raise as many challenges as it solves. From crafting district-level policies to ensuring adequate network bandwidth to effectively integrating the devices into classroom instruction, BYOD’s implications affect educators of all types and at all levels. Expect to see more conversations, solutions and innovations surrounding BYOD this year.

Google Tools

Google’s wide array of free online tools provide a robust complement to any blended learning environment—but only if educators understand how to integrate them in meaningful ways. Conversation will continue this year about ideas and best practices for using Google tools in the classroom.

What ed tech topics would you like to learn about at ISTE 2014?

Share your insights on these or other trending ed tech topics by presenting a session at ISTE 2014. Proposals are due October 2 by 11:59 p.m. PDT. Learn how to craft a top-notch proposal by watching Camilla Gagliolo’s webinar, ISTE 2014 Submission Tips & Tricks.

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