Teachers Will Embrace Students’ Smartphone Addiction In 2015

Editor’s note: Joe Mathewson cofounded learning platform Firefly when he was 14.

These are heady days for education technology. In fact, with big investments in outfits like Everspring and Udemy, I’d say 2014 was the biggest year yet in edtech. However, if you thought that was impressive, you haven’t seen anything yet. What does 2015 hold for the year in this fast-moving sector?

Technology Will Get Embedded

Of course, classrooms have been using computers for decades, but 2014 was a year when many schools began to adopt technology as an embedded, natural part of teaching and learning. As many schools have tried out these products and services, teachers and pupils alike have whetted their appetites with early glimpses at the possibilities.

Next year is when institutions will consolidate their positions and settle on solutions for adoption in the years ahead. As this happens, technology will become an intrinsic part of the learning process rather than an afterthought.

Cloud Will Come Into Its Own

Adoption of cloud-based technologies is booming. But education lags behind other industries in embracing the opportunity. This year, educators will finally start to really take advantage of the possibilities, e.g. storing documents and managing webmail, as well as more classroom-specific services including cloud-based learning management systems.The more that schools are allowed to manage their own budgets, and the more that local governments themselves look to cut costs, the more schools will move toward cloud solutions. This can significantly reduce spending and allow schools to focus on teaching rather than technology.

Expectations Will Increase

Now that many educators have begun to use connected classroom technologies, their demand for ever-more sophisticated solutions will blossom.

Indeed, many teachers are now used to using highly effective but easy-to-manage web tools in their personal lives. In the year ahead, they will bang the drum for similar adoption at school, not wanting to settle for shoehorning an education imperative in to off-the-shelf consumer products.

Teachers Will Embrace, Not Outlaw, Pupils’ Mobiles

Smartphones have entirely changed the way we interact. A recent study found many people check theirs as many as 100 times a day. Teachers recognize the pattern among youngsters, but fighting against the tide is futile, and banning a device to which pupils are so emotionally connected is more destructive than helpful.

However, U.K. experiments in which schools give students mobile devices in classrooms showed higher motivation, attentiveness and achievement. In the year ahead, as more proof of outcomes emerges, more teachers are likely to work with, not against, the gadgets.

Curation Will Become Crucial

English education minister Nick Gibb recently called for a textbook “renaissance” in schools. Of course, the Internet has provided stiff competition to the printed tomes, offering up-to-date information on subject areas that can often move fast. But in my view, this increases the necessity for the kind of editing and curation that books have provided for decades.

The authority of qualified editors helps students better judge which content to believe in. As a sea of available information threatens to swamp students in 2015, many will recognize that single truths are crucial. That may not mean a comeback for books in print, but it will mean a newfound respect for the kind of knowledge they can deliver in digital.

Parents Use Technology to Complement Passions

Parents are increasingly demanding online access to their children’s learning and development progress. Caring parents in 2015 will make sure they are aware of and are using all the positive educational benefits technology can provide to learning, research and homework.

But it will be important to deploy technology in ways that truly engage children. This is best done by discovering what children are most interested in — be it coding or poetry — and helping to provide new lenses on those topics to explore a wealth of inspiring content.