"We will continue to see digital learning enhancing education nationwide," says Apex Learning CEO Cheryl Vedoe. In fact, the digital movement tops the list of emerging education trends, according to an October 2014 study by Hanover Research.
The E-Rate fund makes high-speed internet connections affordable for classrooms and libraries across the nation. On Dec. 11, 2014, the FCC voted to increase the E-Rate fund by $1.5 billion annually, which will benefit 10 million students in 2015 alone. The E-Rate program is "critical for students to learn and thrive in today's connected world," says Funds For Learning CEO John Harrington.
B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) is also catching on. "Many schools have already implemented tablets into their technology arsenal," says Laura Millar of Zco Corporation, a custom software developer. "Cutting-edge institutions allow students to access academic information from their own tablets, e-readers or smartphones while in class. Students are doing research from their Kindles and taking quizzes on their iPhones!"
B.Y.O.D. is ideal for schools with limited budgets and enables them to supplement a class set of tablets or an overcrowded computer lab. "For schools with excellent technology resources, mobile devices allow for greater lesson customization in daily work," says Millar. "A teacher can provide customized lessons, sorting students by ability or interest with greater confidentiality — a solution for academically diverse classes."
Understanding how all of this technology works is critical, too. "Learning to code has become a paramount skill to have nowadays as young students use their free time to learn it online outside of school, in boot camps and at after-school programs," says Matan Ofri, with the education reform group SkilledUp.
Blended learning will continue to grow in 2015, "providing educators with the ability to individualize instruction for every student while supporting them in their learning where they need it the most," says Vedoe.
"Expect integration of technology in the classrooms to focus on blended learning," says Karim Abouelnaga, CEO of the Practice Makes Perfect summer learning program for socioeconomically disadvantaged NYC neighborhoods. "Classes will be segmented based more on student's mastery and less on age or grade level."
According to John Logan, vice present of curriculum innovation for Florida Virtual School, traditional classrooms will be using digital materials in blended models, as well as wide use of open education materials such as free online resources.
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