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Ed Tech Makes Consumer Electronics Association's Top 5 Trends

Technology in education is one of the "prominent technology trends expected to influence the consumer electronics (CE) industry in the years ahead," according to the 2013 edition of "Five Technology Trends to Watch," a report released this week by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The other four tech trends identified were the future of 3D printing, next-generation TVs and displays, the evolution of the audio market, and the mobile revolution in Africa.

The report found a considerable degree of support for technology in education among parents and students. According to the report, 75 percent of parents of school-aged kids believe technology improves the learning experience; 67 percent have seen improvements in their child's learning because of technology; 69 percent believe all K-12 students should have access to the Internet for educational purposes; and 52 percent believe all K-12 students should be provided with a computer to aid in their education. However, the report also pointed out that the majority of classrooms have limited access to technology.

Additional findings in the report included:

  • Teachers' Web sites are one of the most used technologies, providing students and parents with access to lesson notes, grades, assignments, and lectures;
  • Fewer than half of parents report that their children use social media for education in their schools;
  • More than one-third of parents report that their children's schools use apps for education, usually in the form of games;
  • Slightly more than half of parents report that their children's schools use laptops;
  • Fewer than three in 10 report that their children use tablets or ebooks for educational purposes;
  • One-quarter of parents prefer e-books over physical textbooks.

The report speculated that some parents may be resisting adoption of technologies such as e-books and tablets for education because of perceived costs, concerns about children causing wear and tear on devices, and fear of loss or theft of devices. Despite these concerns, the report predicted, the use of e-books, tablets, and other technologies in education will continue to grow owing to their benefits.

E-books weigh less, cost less, and are instantly accessible without visiting a bookstore or library. However, digital content has other benefits for K-12 classrooms, according to the report. It pointed to the trend of flipping the classroom, in particular, where students watch or listen to recorded lectures at home, and the teachers spend classroom time helping students master the material through in-class exercises.

"Flipping the classroom is benefiting the educational environment by providing a more individualized approach to learning," stated the report. But in order for schools to be able to offer this method of teaching and learning, teachers will require access to video recording, webinar, or podcasting technology, and students will require computers with Internet access.

Another benefit of technology in education, according to the report, is that learning can be tailored to each student. Students can progress through material at their own pace and learn in ways that best suit their individual learning styles. Usage of online assessment and software learning tools will also enable educators to gather massive amounts of data, which can be analyzed to identify trends and patterns and provide insight into different ways that students solve problems, and ultimately use that information to tailor learning to individual students' needs.

Technology in education can also enable learning to take place anytime, anywhere, according to the report. This freedom can help students acquire new languages and learn about other cultures by interacting with other students across the globe. It can also enable homeschooled students to access the same apps and online resources as their traditionally schooled counterparts. Students in the classroom can also benefit by being able to attend specialized or advanced online classes to extend their classroom learning. At the college level, online education can also enable people to earn degrees, regardless of their location.

The final benefit of technology in education identified in the report is its ability to engage students. Since most K-12 students are digital natives, incorporating technology into their learning experiences can spark their interest, according to the report. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or school-provided technology can enable students to access a growing number of educational apps, game-based learning programs, and augmented reality programs, which allow students to gather additional information about real-life objects and places real time using mobile devices.

According to the report, funding, resistance to technology, and impacts on student behavior are three challenges on the road to increased adoption of educational technology, but they can be overcome through effort from government, educational institutions, parents, students, technology manufacturers, and software providers.

The complete report is available online at the CE Vision Web site.

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