In today’s digital world, technology is a critical part of a kid’s education. From learning responsible internet use to practicing basic computer skills, technology continues to gain importance both inside and outside the classroom. In fact, President Obama recently emphasized the importance of technology education for students in his final State of the Union address. The President praised the country’s spirit of innovation, and said that, as a nation, we should build on our progress by offering every student in America hands-on computer science classes so that they will be prepared to enter the workforce “job-ready on day one.”
To meet the growing need for quality learning opportunities for technology, the field of technology education emerged, and now aims to provide new and innovative ways for students to learn essential technology fundamentals that prepare them for future success. The rapid pace with which technology is evolving demands that the field of technology education adapt even faster in order to remain relevant and valuable for students. In 2016, we expect to see great advancements in technology education, largely centered around three key themes. Here are three trends to keep an eye on this year.
Moving from Consumer to Creator
As adults, any technology education we received in school was likely through consuming content. Whether you practiced arithmetic through Math Blasters or learned typing with Mavis Beacon, you’re probably familiar with educational programs designed to teach you new skills in a game-play format.
Recently, though, programs and online resources have moved away from simply teaching kids new skills using game-based technology, and instead are designed to allow kids to create using technology. For example, instead of simply playing Minecraft, an online course can teach kids to customize their Minecraft world using professional computer programming. According to a report by the New Media Consortium (NMC), this trend of moving from consumer to creator is set to continue and expand this year.
Shifting to Project-Based Learning
Teachers have known for a long time that hands-on projects are a way to engage even the most distracted of students. Not only are these projects fun, but they provide a considerable learning benefit! These immersive experiences allow students to directly interact with the concepts they’re learning, which leads to a deeper and more functional understanding of the subject matter.
While most technology education happens on a screen, one new trend is replicating the hands-on experience online through project-based learning. Many programs replace the traditional goal of completing (or winning) the game with an end goal of creating a final project using the skills they have learned. Having a final project requires deep content comprehension by the student, as well as boosts kids’ engagement with the material.
The NMC categorizes project-based learning as a “deeper learning approach,” which is defined by the Alliance for Excellent Education as the delivery of rich core content to students in innovative ways that allow them to learn and then apply what they have learned. We can expect an emphasis on project-based learning, as well as more student-centered learning approaches, in 2016.
The Future is in 3 Dimensions
In the past, much of technology education was focused around practical skills like typing and math. However, there are no almost endless options for the types of knowledge and skills students can acquire through technology education, from professional skills like programming to fun pursuits like digital art. One of the most popular areas of study that has emerged is anything related to 3D.
“From 3D modeling to 3D video games, 3D printing to 3D animation, it’s clear that the future of technology is in three dimensions,” said Justin Richards, founder and CEO of Youth Digital. “As a technology education company committed to innovation, we strive to be on the forefront of teaching students these skills.”
Today there are toys that print in 3D, as well as plenty of online resources for kids to learn about the possibilities that 3D represents. As the scope of 3D technology continues to expand in society, we can expect to see the opportunities for students to learn 3D skills grow rapidly.
As an emerging market, technology education is advancing at a whirlwind pace, and we’re thrilled to be a leading force in the innovation. Kids and parents can expect to see a variety of new opportunities to learn and engage with technology in 2016!