Mobile management services in the classroom: 5 transformative edtech trends for 2017–2018
Mobile technology is a prominent part of the classroom in 2017 as schools focus on acquiring devices, developing mobile management services and finding the right applications for learning. More than 50 percent of teachers in the US report a 1:1 ratio of devices for students, an increase of 10 percentage points over last school year, according to Front Row.
Mobility has already profoundly affected the K–12 student experience. Instructors can now access more personalized instruction, improved student and parent engagement and specific data insights into student populations. It’s the beginning of a new era in mobile edtech as schools adopt tools such as blended learning, virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).
1. Blended learning
Mobile technology has enabled teachers to support student-paced instruction methods, or blended learning. The Journal reports an estimated 75 percent or more of US school districts are using mobile and digital technology for individualized instruction, to the benefit of 10 million students. The current and potential impact of mobile-enabled blended learning is so profound that it’s even beginning to disrupt traditional classroom design, with schools ditching forward-facing desks in favor of modular furniture for small-group collaboration and flexible seating arrangements.
2. AR and VR
Total immersion through AR and VR is opening new opportunities for student engagement. For example, according to AR/VR Magazine, instructors are offering virtual field trips through apps such as Nearpod, and other teachers are using VR creation tools to add 3-D elements to books and vocabulary projects, including Tiffany Capers’ use of the CoSpaces app to recreate scenes from literature. Fortunately, as Edudemic reports, VR for schools is relatively low-cost. Cardboard headsets can cost less than $10, students can use free apps and, if they have one, students can use their own smartphones.
3. Parent engagement
Traditionally, educators have used paper-based communications and phone calls to engage parents. Increasingly, schools are relying on mobile-first platforms such as ClassDojo and Remind for real-time communications with parents. Blackboard data reveals 49 percent of schools believe mobile apps are the most effective form of parent communications, though 34 percent of districts lack staffers with the knowledge to maintain these platforms.
4. Small data insights
Mobile technologies for student assessment and learning have provided unprecedented access to small data insights at the district, classroom and individual levels. Educators can use apps to measure traditionally hard-to-observe factors such as behavioral risks and individual sources of motivation. When coupled with blended learning, small data insights could represent a meaningful path to closing achievement gaps.
According to eSchool News, mobile-based tools that observe students’ behavior and social interactions and assess their emotional well-being are now a must-have capability for districts and instructors.
5. AI and machine learning
Research and Markets projects the use of AI technology in K–12 classrooms will grow 47.5 percent through 2021. Though it’s unlikely teachers will ever be replaced by robot educators, machine learning apps can open new pathways to affordable, individualized learning. VentureBeat predicts 2017 applications of AI in K–12 will include the following aspects:
- Automated grading and assessments
- Chatbots for student questions
- Virtual tutors
- Analytics-driven gamification experiences
As student devices and educational apps proliferate, educators have new opportunities to optimize the classroom experience for their students. Though the use of cognitive processing tools to answer student questions and immersive VR for engagement are in their infancy, educators and administrators can look forward to a future with richer tools for data-driven instruction, student engagement and individualized education pathways.
However, administrators are also wise to balance this excitement with a strategy for overcoming challenges in mobile edtech. The Tech Advocate cautions the importance of planning for mobile management services post-purchase, stating, “There must be funding for teacher training and maintenance of the devices, too.”
As schools adopt data collection methods for individualized learning plans and identifying at-risk students, successful transformation of the classroom must be balanced with considerations of data security, mobile device management and technology integration for the whole classroom.