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Emerging Trends in EdTech
Vinay Mahadik
Co-Founder & CEO,-Securly
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The rise of '1:1'
In recent years, schools around the globe have been increasingly adopting 1:1 initiatives, programs in which each student is issued a personal device to facilitate learning. While there are a number of different devices being used in the classroom, all with their own merits, the clear leaders up until now have been Google's Chromebook and Apple's iPad. Each of these devices consists of its own avid supporters, which has led to countless 'iPad vs Chromebook' debates over the last few years. Although iPads were initially the popular choice for many schools, Chromebooks surpassed iPads as the market leader in late 2014. A recent Gartner study projects that worldwide Chromebook sales are expected to reach 7.3 million units by the end of 2015, with the education sector accounting for 72 percent, 69 percent, and 60 percent of sales in EMEA, Asia/Pacific, and the U.S., respectively. Regardless of the school's device of choice, it seems almost a given now that it will in some capacity use Google Apps for Education, a cloud-based suite of Google tools such as GMail, Calendar, Drive, and Classroom that are available for free to schools.

Common Core State Standards Initiative
A big catalyst for the rapid growth of 1:1 programs has been the Common Core State Standards, an initiative adopted by 48 US states that provides over $10B of funding to help schools teach students important 21st century skills. As described in the 'Recommended Digital Literacy & Technology Skills' handbook for the state of California, students must be able to 'Use online tools (e.g., e-mail, online discussion forums, blogs, and wikis) to gather and share information collaboratively with other students, if the district allows it.' The initiative has given rise to the number of student-produced blogs, YouTube videos, Wikipedia articles, and numerous other mediums by which students use online content to enhance their learning experience. It is through this focus on technological innovation that the concepts of blended learning and the flipped classroom have been able to flourish. Blended learning provides a balance between traditional classroom instruction and online learning. Often considered a type of blended learning, the flipped classroom challenges the traditional pedagogical model by encouraging students to learn new content at home and use classroom time for collaborative, hands-on activities. Perhaps one of the best known examples of this practice is witnessed in schools that have adopted Khan Academy's math curriculum.

Increased device use in homes
The proliferation of devices is not unique to schools. Whereas most American families owned just a single computer throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, most US households now contain 5 or more mobile devices. Moreover, it is increasingly common for students in 1:1 programs to take their school devices home with them throughout the school year or even during the summer break, further contributing to abundance of technology within the walls of their home.

There's a significant shift in the challenges that educators and parents face with kids using the Internet. The risk of exposure to adult websites is now not the main worry. Instead, the focus is now on the 21st century threats of social media and social networking' specifically, schools are perplexed by cyber-bullying and parents are concerned by lost productivity and unsafe user-generated content on otherwise safe sites.

Sitting behind a computer screen, adolescents often have no filter on what they say to and about their peers. This has led to increased prevalence of depression, self-harm, or even suicide due to posts made on Ask.fm or Facebook like social networking sites. Parents find their kids from a very early age spending hours of time watching related videos on YouTube wasting time and potentially watching unsafe content along the way.

Student Data and Privacy
With the abundance of data being generated by the scores of K-12 service providers, these types of questions are becoming easier to answer. EdTech companies like Bright Bytes have been successfully using school data to measure the impact on student outcomes and are helping schools make better choices about where to invest their technology dollars. Understanding that students consume more data on mobile than any other medium, Remind 101 has been able to take school data and deliver it an easy way (e.g., text messages, SMS alerts, and others.) to help parents, students, and teachers to stay connected.

Because student data is being produced at a faster rate than ever before, it becomes imperative to have safeguards in place which protect students and families from identify theft and other online security risks. The first step in realizing this goal is to hold the EdTech companies themselves accountable for using their data in a safe and responsible manner. To that end, The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) formed the Student Privacy Pledge, an initiative to 'safeguard student privacy regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.' As of this article, 157 K-12 service providers have signed the official pledge, which was given recognition by President Obama and the White House in late 2014.

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