Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Four P's- The Future of Edtech

At the ending keynote for the Tennessee Education Technology Convention (TETC) this week, Kathy Schrock left me thinking about the four P's that she said might exemplify the future of educational technology. I've found myself thinking about what this looks like from an instructional technologists viewpoint, from the eyes of future students, and from the perspective of the classroom teachers. It will effect the technologists, students and teachers differently. Some will be changes that are readily embraced, some will be cause for concern, some will just happen but we will all have judgment- because that is human nature.

Personalization- This is the "P" that resonates the loudest with me right now. It appears I'm already on the edge of this one with a math prototype project I am involved with. At TETC I offered a session on "The Benefits of Blended Learning Math Instruction." To be honest, I had a fear I would be speaking to 5 people and it would be a total flop because "who cares?" Imagine my surprise when it was standing room only! Imagine even more surprise when the realization came that we are fairly innovative in this project compared to many of the participants of the session. Adoption of a blended learning classroom is just now becoming less trendy and more commonplace. To me, one of the most surprising things about our station rotation blended learning model adoption has been how quickly it could have morphed into personalized learning for each child to meet their needs where they are. Current technology trends allow for real-time data, ease of assessment, and the ability to let a student move at their own pace. Educational technology resources are getting better and better- the future will make learning less like educational mills and more specialized to meet the needs of each child and prepare them in the path they choice earlier than ever before. Is this good or bad? Only time will tell.

Programmable- Last week there was a huge push in the educational technology world for students everywhere to participate in the Hour of Code. "The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event" ( The uprise of teaching coding has inspired the growth of robotics in schools, it has pushed the trend towards STEM in the school systems, and created a culture where the idea of computer science is cool and acceptable. Critical thinking coding apps such as minecraft have revolutionized what is "fun" for students to do. Our future classrooms will include more opportunities for programmable endeavors as it enters makerspaces, science classrooms, and math instruction. Programmable options will make educational technology more hands-on than ever before. As the cost of options like make-makey, sphero, and drones decrease the mainstream use of them in the classroom will increase. Everyone will become a computer programmer. Students will be creating apps themselves, websites for both personal and educational reasons, and it will become another "presentation" choice of the future. Will coding be recognized as an option for language credit for high school students? Only time will tell.

Participatory- There are many different directions the term "participatory" could go in terms of the future of educational technology but here is one area that excites me as an instructional technologist: Having the ability to speak into the creation of websites and apps for educational purposes. In the last 3 years I have been amazed at the immediate feedback I've received from app makers and website creators when I have questions, concerns, or suggestions. Never before have every day educators had the ability to speak into making tools better for our students and ourselves. Just like the fact student learning is becoming more personalized, technology for teachers is becoming more personalized as well. I feel this will give educators everywhere the ability to meet the needs of their students better because they are given a voice in the creation of technology tools. 

From a students viewpoint, educational technology will no longer just be a "sit and get" option of watching a lecture via a PowerPoint presentation by their teacher. As educational technology options evolve to be more creative, helpful, and well written, and less expensive teachers will continue to adapt and adopt options that allow students control over the path of their learning. Students will participate in the path of their learning because teachers will no longer feel the need to be the sage on the stage. Teachers will see that their student's worlds can reach beyond the four walls of their classrooms and they will learn to give control over the learning process to their students. Students will participate in the curation of information like never before. Will lesson plans look the same from year to year if this is the case? Only time will tell. 

Predictive- My phone already predicts who I might want to communicate with next. Amazon already guesses what I might want to buy based on my previous searches and buys. The future of edtech will be algorithm driven. Teachers will not only know how students learn best but the software options themselves will know what the students need to know next. This makes the idea of personalized learning even easier. Teachers will become less "givers of knowledge" and more "facilitators of learning." Will there be a need for educators as we know them? This is probably the most controversial question that I've listed. I do believe educators will have to adapt and be trained differently than the past. Only time will tell.

As I think on each of these four P words, I see an intertwining of them all with each other. While each word could be pulled apart and dissected in numerous ways, I feel it is important to look at them from a big picture approach to see the biggest P word of them all...POSSIBILITIES!


  1. Great post! Thanks for "paying it forward"!

  2. Well done! And for your consideration, another "P" for those of us responsible to facilitate and deliver: Do so with PASSION! Ironically, my requirement for a second foreign language in a graduate program was met by demonstrating competence in programming nearly three decades ago...Time for us in the k-12 world to become less intent on "seat time" and more more focused on demonstration of the expected/required skills.

  3. I agree, Dan! Thanks for the read and your support. Looking forward to visiting your school system in the not so distant future.