The Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) was held in Orlando, FL to provide a platform for education and technology leaders to share their ideas and strategies to promote student success and schoolwide advancement. From January 24-27, thousands flocked to the Orange County Convention Center to get hands-on with today’s latest technologies and applications, from educational software to robotics. The education market is valued at $5 trillion per year, providing tremendous growth opportunity for companies looking to disrupt how students learn and the career paths they follow in the future.
So where is education technology headed this year?
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While VR is still making waves in the consumer market, it’s a force to be dealt with in education.
As children are growing up in a touch generation, technology needs to support their intellectual development. Students are learning from laptops, tablets, and interactive whiteboards – all platforms that provide a new level of educational stimulation. VR and AR have the ability to make learning more tangible and highlight concepts and processes in new ways. Google created the Expeditions Pioneer Program, an effort where teams equipped with VR kits can take school trips to virtually anywhere. Expeditions is an education-focused immersive experience app which allows educators to choose from more than 100 ‘destinations’ and guide students on ‘expeditions’ in VR. Similar concepts can allow students to view the solar system from a VR environment of the Milky Way or learn about the water cycle from a VR environment in the clouds.
Gaming technology is quickly becoming an immersive and interactive tool for teaching and learning. Gamification allows students to learn by doing either individually or with their classmates. Using multisensory environment that simulates real life, students participate in repetitive learning. With gaming simulation, students must make strategic decisions and identify obstacles and how to overcome them. Gamification is becoming more acceptable in learning environments as it incorporates an immediate rewards system for students which increases motivation and engagement. As gamification technology improves, it is being rapidly deployed for designing educational games and simulations across various disciplines.
Students are drawn to these types of educational entertainment or ‘edutainment’ content, which informs them in a fun and captivating way. These types of media facilitate new learning and teaching styles, especially in STEM. With these technologies, edutainment becomes a key part of student engagement and thus, information retention over time. Looks like Ms. Frizzle’s notion of teaching her students with the Magic School Bus is now a reality with VR/AR and gaming simulation.