ISTE offers 'five tech trends to watch' during new school year


With many schools back in session or due to start soon, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has released a list of five emerging tech trends for educators to watch this year.

ISTE CEO Richard Culatta has said that the use of technology in education is at a critical moment. “With improved connectivity and increasingly impactful educator professional learning around the use of technology, many students will have new experiences as the bell rings to start a new school year,” Culatta said in a statement.

To help start the conversation around edtech, ISTE — which serves about 100,000 teachers, administrators and edtech specialists globally — suggested five trends for its stakeholders to keep an eye on throughout the coming year.

First is coding for every student. “Coding is the international language of problem-solving. Young people need to learn the basics of computer science in order to be the effective problem-solvers of tomorrow,” ISTE leaders wrote in a release.

Second is the ability to give and receive real-time learning feedback. With everything digitized, teachers don’t have to wait on statewide assessments to evaluate their students’ performance. They can use electronic devices to assess students early and often, allowing for proactive intervention and additional help where needed.

“Tools that can visualize student progress in real time and recommend learning activities based on individual student progress are just becoming available,” Culatta said. “This will allow teachers to intervene and adjust more quickly when students are struggling to comprehend difficult subjects.”

Another trend is virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). With such tools, students can visit the Parthenon in Greece or explore the chemical makeup of a water molecule in more intimate, interactive ways than ever before — their teachers just have to figure out how best to leverage this technology in the classroom.

“This school year will likely be the year virtual reality and augmented reality make a real impact in the classroom,” Culatta predicted.

A fourth “tech to trend to watch” is media literacy. With the emergence and rapid spread of fake news, “there’s a great need to build our muscle around deciphering between accurate and false information online,” ISTE officials wrote, adding that it’s important for students to be able to recognize credible sources and interpret data themselves so they are not misled by sensationalized news on the internet.

Finally, ISTE suggests that the conversation around digital citizenship will shift this year. In the past, most people talk about digital citizenship in the prism of online safety — telling students what not to do and how to protect themselves in the digital world.

“While online safety is critical, it’s only a small subset of digital citizenship,” ISTE officials wrote. That focus will likely change this year by giving more attention to using technology for positive change and humane contributions, they anticipate.

“When students take a positive view of using online tools, they become more active citizens and community members,” they wrote. The ISTE Standards define digital citizenship as recognizing both the responsibilities and opportunities of an interconnected digital world.”