Forecasting the Future of Education Technology

Today’s post comes from regular contributor Catherine Hainstock (M.Ed TL) of Vermont Secondary College.

Many Bright Ideas readers will be aware of the Horizon Report released by the New Media Consortium. These reports are invaluable to educators and schools planning for change.

Now there is another excellent forward planning resource, a visualisation created by Envisioning Technology. They describe Envisioning the Future of Education Technology as:

… a concise overview of technologies that have the potential to disrupt and improve teaching on all levels.

This visualisation comprehensively maps out 6 key trends, puts the emerging technologies into educational context and projects it forward on a 30 year timeline. It can be downloaded as a pdf or high resolution png image.

Envisioning the Future of Education Technology

It is also well worth exploring this trend-forecasting firm’s website if you have students looking at themes such as future careers or envisioning the future. There is an amazing visualisation on Emerging Technologies highlighting areas of STEM with some truly extraordinary predictions. Envisioning Tech’s blog is currently featuring “Sci-fi Scaffolds”, scenarios situated in the near future and based on emerging technologies. Spend a bit of time on this site and I guarantee you will be thinking about the future in a whole new way.

The many and varied roles of the teacher librarian

Carl A. Harvey II is the library media specialist at North Elementary School in
Noblesville, Indiana.

Carl A. Harvey II, a library media specialist at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana has developed a document on the expectations of teacher librarians/school library media specialists/school librarians.

Covering eleven points such as teaching, addressing new technologies, collaborating, leading, learning and innovation, this document is a great starting point for anyone who needs guidance about the diverse role of the teacher librarian.

Although US in origin, this document is relevant to Australian school libraries. However, one omission does seem to be the lack of acknowledgement of the contribution to reading programs and support.

Thanks to Keisa Williams for the heads up on this document.

Annual report on emerging technologies – planning for change

The annual report on emerging technologies – planning for change has been published. has released the report, which is part of the Strategic ICT Advisory Service, funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The 102 page report may not be accessible to everyone in terms of taking the time to read it, so here are some salient points:

The Horizon Report identifies a number of meta-trends in ICT in education:

• the evolving approaches to communication between humans and machines

• the collective sharing and generation of knowledge

• computing in three dimensions

• connecting people via the network

• games as pedagogical platforms

• the shifting of content production to users

• the evolution of an ubiquitous platform.

 The challenges for policy makers20 listed below are summarised from the discussions at the ICT in Learning Symposium and, along with the other references used, have helped shape this report’s recommendations. The challenges are:

• to provide a flexible framework that supports information sharing and reduces duplication through fragmentation of effort

• to choose where to invest in research, tools and systems that support integration

• to address the barriers to scaling innovative and transformative practice

• to monitor performance of the system against key outcomes that are learner focussed

• the development of a flexible national curriculum for schools and assessment so it is responsive to the potential of technologies to engage, enhance and improve learning outcomes for a 21st century economy

• the provision of tools, mechanisms and systems that encourage the development and sharing of content and of good teaching practice

• the development of policy frameworks that encourage widespread use of new technologies through a shared risk management approach the instigation and support of transformational professional learning programs across all sectors that effectively engage educators in incorporating the use of ICT to improve learner outcomes

• the provision of spaces and mechanisms for trial and evaluation of new ICTs and for sharing of good practice across sectors, between organisations, and across jurisdictions

• the development of a management, maintenance and governance model for managing a complex distributed and connected environment for all stakeholders

• the development of decision making frameworks that describe minimum standards for interoperability to encourage national integration of tools and services while allowing for local flexibility

• the provision of sandpit spaces for trial and evaluation of new technologies

• the promotion of frameworks and systems to encourage sharing of content and best practice in teaching and learning.

 This report makes eight recommendations, each accompanied by suggested strategies to support the achievement of those recommendations. The recommendations are listed here, but should be read in concert with the strategies.

The recommendations are:

SICTAS: Planning for Change 10

• Implement an ICT in teaching and learning continuum so that learners’ new media literacyskills and abilities are augmented as they move through the education sectors.

• Task a national body to support national collaborative partnerships to reduce fragmentation of effort, and make best use of the existing and future investments made in ICT.

• Research and establish mechanisms to enable the more rapid adoption of innovative practice in the use of ICT across the teaching and learning workforce.

• Commit to providing ongoing resourcing and funding to maintain, sustain and enhance a technology rich environment for the education and training sector.

• Develop and implement a national approach to software infrastructure that minimises the barriers to effective use and sharing of resources, and maximises access.

• Address the complications of Australian copyright law in a way that encourages sharing and exchange of resources in the education and training sector, including the implementation of Creative Commons across Australian education and training.

• That the Australian Government takes a leadership role in collaboration with jurisdictions, sectors and educational institutions to develop a national professional learning strategy based on sound research into good practice.

• The Australian Government takes a leadership role, in partnership with other education authorities and entities, in implementing and maintaining the ICT competency framework for teachers as described in the ‘Raising the Standards’ report, but look to apply this to teachers in each of the education sectors. A key component of the described framework is teacher standards. The Government should undertake to task AICTEC, through its advisory bodies to develop teacher ICT standards for:

o Pre-service teachers

o Practicing teachers

o School leaders

o Teacher educators

o VET teachers

o University teachers

The report also provides a set of possible actions that could be taken to help position Australia to manage constant change in ICT in the education and training sector. A primary issue is delegation of responsibility: who will take responsibility for managing and implementing the range of actions, strategies and recommendations?

The current system of dispersed responsibility and fragmentation of effort does not enable strategic implementation ensuring equitable access to quality ICT in education for learners across jurisdictions and sectors regardless of where a learner or teacher is in the system.

Some of the Actions that are suggested in different areas are the same and therefore vital: 

• Embed new media literacy skills in teaching and learning at all levels and in all sectors to enable learners to manage identity and privacy issues and empower students, teacher and leaders as digital citizens.

• Include online and collaborative learning pedagogies, online facilitation skills, new media literacy skills161 and appropriate assessment regimes and ICT tools in teacher education as part of the standard curricula

• Include new media literacy skills in professional learning programs (as defined in the SICTAS Collaboration in Teaching and Learning report162).

• Regularly review and (re)align professional learning programs to shifts in learning theory, pedagogical approaches and assessment regimes.

Having such a respected organisation reinforce many of the things that we all believe is powerful. Perhaps Principals and other leaders would like to read the report and implement some of the suggestions?



The Horizon Report (Australia and New Zealand edition) focussing on emerging technologies, where next generation mobile phones were selected as one of the six most important emerging technologies (out of over 100 considered) has been released. And recently, one new application for mobiles has caught the attention of Bright ideas.

aka-aki is a kind of scary tool (users do have the option to turn on privacy settings if they don’t want to be contacted) that once downloaded to your mobile phone, enables other aka-aki users to contact you if you come within 20 metres of them. Bluetooth technology enables user profiles to be viewed by you once another registered user is within the 20 metre distance.

aka-aki homepage

aka-aki homepage

The main difference between aka-aki and other social networking sites is that aka-aki is designed for people who are not in front of their computer. aka-aki is a German development that offers free unlimited messaging and chat to other aka-aki users in groups of your choice, but beware that your phone carrier could charge for data use. Texts can be sent from phone to phone, computer to phone and phone to computer. All mobile encounters are saved on the aka-aki website, so you can follow up contacts later via the Internet.

No doubt there is at least one enterprising and creative soul out there who can think of an educational application for aka-aki. If so, please share it with us!

Roman Hansler, Founder of aka-aki says that it is available for use in Australia now. For more information, go to the aka-aki blog. And for a laugh, have a look at this video.