2016 Technology Education Trends & Beyond

By Phill Powell

Digital Media Academy is a proud partner and sponsor of the New Media Consortium. NMC is an Austin, Texas-based think-tank that is “focused on the implications of emerging technology for schools, museums, universities, and society.” In short, NMC looks at how technology impacts education and our society in the future.

Makerspaces at Digital Media Academy’s tech camps offer kids hands-on creative experiences.

NMC’s latest outlook on education (the 2015 NMC Horizon Report) includes a list of trends that will enhance our educational systems during coming years. It’s a fascinating read, and even more exciting that some of these trends are already happening in school systems in many parts of the world.

Makerspaces are increasingly being looked to as a method for engaging learners in creative, highest-order problem solving through hands-on design, construction and iteration.

– 2015 NMC Horizon Report


Expected Arrival: 2015-2016

What They Are: We’ve been following the Maker Faire movement for years, and makerspaces (also called hack labs or fab labs) are an outgrowth of that.

Just as Maker Faire events give robot-makers and other backyard engineers a chance to come together and celebrate their shared culture, makerspaces are specially designated school areas where students can get hands-on experience creating tech projects, like learning electrical engineering or building a robot.

What the NMC Report Says: “Creativity, design and engineering are making their way to the forefront of educational considerations, as tools such as robotics, 3D printers and web-based 3D modeling applications become accessible to more people. Makerspaces are increasingly being looked to as a method for engaging learners in creative, highest-order problem solving through hands-on design, construction and iteration.”

Adaptive Learning Technologies

Expected Arrival: 2017-2018

What They Are: Think of it as customized education. Adaptive learning technologies use data to create a portrait of each student, and then scale that student’s classroom experience based on the student’s learning speed and ability to absorb the material.

Adaptive learning helps customize a student’s learning experience.

What the NMC Report Says: “On a broader level, adaptive learning dashboards can help teachers and school leaders better evaluate the effectiveness of their curriculum design by examining student data collectively and making comparisons across all classes.”

3D Printing

Expected Arrival: 2017-2018

What It Is: Shop Class just got a whole more interesting when you can make things on demand using a 3D printer. Learning how to use a 3D printer is not just a home-based hobby, but is also becoming a specialized skill. 3D printers are also great educational tools.

Can you visualize it in three dimensions? Then you can make it with a 3D printer.

What the NMC Report Says: “For math, it can help students visualize graphs and mathematical models; in geography, 3D printing can help students better understand geological formations at scale; and in history, replicas of ancient artifacts can enable more hands-on learning.”

Digital Badges

Expected Arrival: 2019-2020

What They Are: Digital achievement awards. The old school has embraced the Video Game Generation to create a digital gold star to reward student performance.

Virtual objects can have very real significance to kids and teens. Digital badges are coming to a school near you.

What the NMC Report Says: “More schools are viewing digital badges as an alternative method of validating formal and informal achievements, not just for students, but for teachers, too. While badges are not yet pervasive in education, they are being used by educators and organizations that are seeking comprehensive approaches to demonstrate a student’s learning path – methods that encompass far more than grades and traditional credits.”

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Expected Arrival: 2015-2016

What It Means: Students bring their own electronic devices (like a tablet or smartphone) to campus, which enables them to access the school’s network. As school budgets are tightened, adapting “BYOD” policies definitely makes sense.

It’s a safe bet that BYOD policies will be established for more and more school districts moving forward.

What the NMC Report Says: “The success of BYOD aligns with global trends toward mobility as more people, from children to adults, own mobile devices and are accessing the Internet in increasingly different environments for learning.”

Wearable Technology

Expected Arrival: 2019-2020

What It Is: The term “wearable technology” encompasses a broad range of clothes that are engineered for more purposes than wearing. Wearable tech clothing is tech-infused and able to execute the higher functionality of computers.

Reebok is just one of the many sportswear companies getting behind wearable tech.

What the NMC Report Says: “Effective wearable devices, including smart watches, become an extension of the person wearing them, allowing them to comfortably engage in everyday activities, such as checking and responding to emails and other tasks that help teachers and students to stay productive on-the-go and gain new insights about their daily routines.”

Experience the Future…Now
If you want to see the future of tech education in action, spend some of your summer at Digital Media Academy.

You’ll make things like robots, rocket ships and 3D animations in DMA’s makerspaces. You’ll create and explore cutting-edge technologies like 3D printing in DMA’s tech camps. In DMA’s robotics summer camps you’ll learn to build and program a robot. DMA’s other tech camps (like computer programming, app development and engineering) also give you hands-on experience creating the future.

Read more about the future of U.S. technology education in the 2015 NMC Horizon Report.