What's In & Out: Trends In Learning Technology

What’s In & Out In Learning Technology?

Education is an odd beast, full of change, yet stubbornly resistant to change.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get an honest picture of learning trends and educational churning because of where you’re looking. Newspaper and major news media gloss over all the details while covering the same tired tropes.

Blogs and social media seem to be closer to what’s actually happening in classrooms, but have a tendency to sensationalize that change. And talking to teachers themselves only yields what’s happening in one classroom, school, or district.

But there are some common trends that we can take a look at (in an inescapably subjective fashion) as 2014 approaches. Many of the words you hear are the same, but their trending Direction might not be.

Down: Transparency

Up: Privacy

Smarter and better connected digital ware made transparency seem ripe for the taking, but privacy concerns and inefficient data tools, along with some continued disagreement about what data should be recorded when and how and reported to whom, contribute to a downward trend for transparency, and an upward trend for privacy.

Down: Data

Up: Analytics

Speaking of data, it’s trending downwards, and in its place—at least in classrooms and schools designed to produce “proficiency” of national standards by standardized tests—is the idea of smarter data.


Analytics, as the term is used here, has more to do with the use of the data—how it’s parsed, and how those conclusions impact the learning of students. Cause-effect. Trends. Patterns. And most of all, data that is more visual, less based on numbers, bar graphs, and color codes, and more on the analysis and response.

Down: Isolated Content

Up: Connected Content

While not all content is social (especially only for the sake of being social), there’s no reason is can’t be connected.

Unlike “social” content, which sees networks as simply dumping grounds for finished products and projects, connected content has social tied in from the beginning, connecting learners to experts, select peer networks, local communities, and their own past work.

Down: Global Learning as a Scale

Up: Global Learning as a Process

The idea of Global Learning was a product of the initial surge of social media. As channels like facebook and twitter gave individuals and groups visibility, connectivity was the logical next step, followed (at some point) by globalization.

It is now clear that while connecting and collaborating are more accessible now than ever, the complexity of truly global learning is surpassed only by the complexity of learning itself. Current education technology enables global learning to be more of a process than an intended scale for personal learning progress and experience.

Down: Differentiation

Up: Personalized Learning

See The Definition of Personalized Learning.

Down: Saving

Up: Curating

Saving has likely been out since local bookmarking jumped the shark 5+ years ago. Pinterest ushered in a whole new standard for curation, where users could save and organize information in a highly visual and personalized way that was both easy to accomplish, and crucially cloud-based (unlike browser bookmarks, which were stored on your computer’s hard drive and thus only accessible on your computer).

Curation has as much to do with how you save as it does what you save. In the face of so much information on a daily basis, what good is data, resources, and other good stuff if you can’t see it, find it, and share it as relevant?

Other Trends in Learning & Learning Technology

Down: Academics

Up: Maker Spaces, Place-Based Education, The Role of Play in Learning

Down: Digital Reputations

Up: Digital Citizenship

Down: Apple-centric web

Up: Mobile-Centric web

Down: eLearning

Up: Blended Learning

Down: Infographics

Up: Gif animations and short videos