According to ISTE, this past year was all about computational thinking, project-based learning, and augmented/virtual reality–things we hope to carry with us into the new year.
As we cross the threshold into 2024, let’s take a look at what we predict the next twelve months will bring. Which technologies are going to shape teaching and learning? What initiatives will bring us into an increasingly digital future of education? How can we prepare for a future that (feels like) is coming so fast?
The 2024 EdTech Landscape
At Trafera, we work with thousands of schools across the country every year to deliver the latest classroom technology, support, and training. And what we’re hearing over and over again: “The funding cliff is coming.”
What’s more, it’s coming at a time when many schools’ 1:1 devices–purchased out of neccessity during the COVID-19 pandemic–are starting to age out. (Read more about Chromebook’s “expiration date” in this 3-minute read)
What that means for K-12 technology decision-makers is that 2024 is a year to rebuild a firm foundation for their edtech programs: one that balances big-picture goals and sustainable budgeting for long-term success.
2024 EdTech Trend Predictions
1. Smart Management of Educational Technology
With more tech and less funding than previous years, schools will be rethinking how to sustain, maintain, and enhance their edtech ecosystem.
EDU has gone through a major era of digital transformation since 2019. Although funds like ESSER, CARES, and ECF are going away, declining back to the way it was before the pandemic is just not an option. The funding cliff presents a really tough problem:
“How can we keep up the level of tech excellence we reached (and even exceed it) now that very funds that helped us get here are going away?”
It is time to get creative! And while a lemonade stand to raise money for school technology sounds fun, here are some practical ideas on how to boost and level out edtech budgets in 2024:
- Device-as-a-Service (DaaS): A cost-effective program that bundles tech hardware with services like setup and support into a single package with flexible payment plans, eliminating large upfront costs and simplifying budget management. (Explore Trafera Financial Services)
- Increasing the Lifespan of Technology: Squeaking just a little more life out of the technology you already have can give you more time to plan and budget for larger technology investments.Options like Trafera’s Eco Warranty give you an additional year of pre-paid warranty coverage on student devices, plus credit for future purchases.
- Buy Backs: Buy Back programs are great for giving your budget a boost and cleaning out the closets to make room for new equipment. What’s more, some buy back programs (like at Trafera) are centered around responsibly restoring old tech so you can sleep easy knowing made an earth-friendly move. (Ask a Trafera rep if your school qualifies for Device Lifecycle Management)
Scaling Up Technology Management
As the quantity and complexity of tech tools increase, improving the sophistication of your management systems is a must. A nice asset inventory Excel file for might fit the bill for some small schools. However, many districts are working with hundreds (if not thousands) of items of technology equipment floating around between students, teachers, and classrooms.That’s especially true for schools who have gone 1-to-1.
In the name of rebuilding a more solid foundation for edtech in 2024, we predict there will be efforts in many schools to adopt more robust asset management solutions, like Incident IQ.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Whether you love it or fear it (or both!), there’s no denying that artificial intelligence (AI) has entered the classroom. From virtual teaching assistants answering students' questions to adaptive language learning tools that customize to each user’s level, AI is transforming from an emerging concept into a practical tool that enhances both teaching and learning experiences.
Kristin Dupuy–a Teaching and Learning Consultant at Trafera–has been spending months digging into AI to prep for a new training she’s launching in 2024. She commented on how AI is shaping young learners, but it’s up to teachers to demonstrate how to use it responsibly.
“Students are going to evolve with the technology they have access to,” says Dupuy. “This is my main driver in coming up with a plan for teachers…so they can teach AI in a mature, responsible manner. In my middle school classroom, I found that when students were overly restricted, many had a stronger desire to explore, so why not embrace what is there instead of fighting it?“
Giving students the freedom to embrace new tech (even if it can be a little scary) can be incredibly fruitful as long as there is a way they can do it safely.
Kristin even suggests using artificial intelligence to help with this. “A great use of AI is to allow it to help create a classroom usage policy. Try it out! Ask AI to help you create an AI Usage Policy for your grade level and subject area. Don't be afraid to revise the result by inputting more specific prompt information until you are satisfied with the output.”
Check out these quick tips on using AI in the classroom:
Addressing Teacher Burnout with AI
A recent survey in a report by David Nagel in THE Journal highlights an issue that will continue to be a concern in 2024: teacher burnout. “Among educators (including administrators and classroom teachers), the number one concern by far was teacher burnout, with 73% saying they were concerned about it,” the reported stated, “the number two concern was teacher shortages, at 51%.”
In the next year, one of AI’s roles in education will be to offers babysteps for relieving some of that burnout. It can do so by alleviating heavy workloads, enabling more with less, and reigniting a zest for teaching:
- Alleviate Heavy Workloads: AI is a great tool for automating routine tasks like grading and attendance. This reduces the administrative burden and gives teachers more time for things like student interactions and planning.
- Do More With Less: AI is great at doing big tasks quickly: a really handy ability for educators trying to make the most of their limited prep time.The best news is that there ere are many AI functions in the productivity tools schools already use, like Google Workspace for Education and Microsoft 365 Education. Generative AI can be used to create lesson plans, rubrics, communications, and beyond while AI analytics can transform mounds of data into actionable, educational insights.
- Reignite Passion for Teaching: Some AI tools are helping teachers reclaim connection with their students by helping them get out from behind a computer. Artificial intelligent assistants such as Merlyn Mind–which functions like a Siri or Alexa for education–give teachers hands-free, voice control of their classroom.
“Being able to be free of a computer so I can just be with my students, I think that is the key,” said teacher Shawn Moore from Hibreten High School. In an interview with Merlyn, he went on to comment on how Merlyn helps him stay connected with his class on a human level by removing the need to be behind a computer screen all day.
How Teachers and Students Utilize AI:
- For Teachers: AI aids in things like creating interactive lesson plans and materials, allowing for more personalized educational experiences.
- For Students: AI enables students to engage in collaborative learning, assisting in activities like brainstorming, content creation, and enhancing presentations.
3. Cloud-Based Learning Platforms
Schools are increasingly turning to cloud-based tools to extend learning beyond the traditional classroom. 2024 will continue the pattern. Platforms, such as Google Workspace for Education and Microsoft 365 Education, offer a range of apps and tools that are accessible anytime and anywhere, breaking down geographical and time barriers in education.
Cloud-based platforms play a big role in tomorrow’s educational landscape. They not only provide a repository of resources but also a space for real-time collaboration and learning. In the new year, we will see them being utilized in various ways to meet the evolving needs of education:
Adapt and Scale
Cloud-based tools that will flourish in 2024 will be those that can adapt to changing educational demands. Whether that means scaling up or down with fluctuation enrollments or extending vertically with multifunctional tools, “adaptability” and “scalability” are the name(s) of the game for cloud-based platforms.
Take for example Google Meet. The platform acted as a digital bridge during the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting teachers and students remotely. And now, post-pandemic, it continues to engage students in the classroom with features like live translation, polls, breakout groups, and Jamboards, making every lesson interactive and collaborative.
Enhance Teacher-Student Interaction
Cloud-based platforms offer new tools for enriching the interactions between students and teachers. You can provide immediate feedback, share a wealth of additional resources, and conduct live sessions. This close interaction leads to a learning experience that is more catered and responsive to individual student needs.
Make Collaborative Learning Easy
By fostering an environment where collaborative learning is the norm, cloud-based platforms encourage students to work together on projects, discuss ideas, and share insights, irrespective of physical distance.
A study from the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education supports this noting, "Cloud-supported collaborative learning tools help in enhancing cognitive engagement, cognitive presence, knowledge sharing, and reflective thinking among students. These tools are seen as vital for knowledge construction and improving functional intellectual abilities."
Prepare Students for a Digital Future
Using cloud-based learning platforms in schools helps students learn skills they'll need for working and collaborating online in the future. As cloud computing becomes more common in many jobs, familiarizing students with these tools in school means they are better prepared for college and career paths. An article in Deloitte supports this, stating, “The cloud is redefining work by moving away from process-based tasks to project-based outcomes, driven by digital solutions. This transformation requires a new understanding of skills needed in a cloud-enabled future.”
4. Professional Development
Professional development for educators continues to be a key aspect of teaching. The importance of it is echoed by 46% of educators in a Lexia survey, who see it as a useful tool for retaining and enhancing teacher effectiveness.
Through professional development, educators stay updated with the latest teaching strategies and educational technology. This not only enriches their teaching methods but also directly benefits students by providing them with a more impactful learning experience.
Here are some benefits professional development provides:
- Renewed Approach: The focus on professional development isn't new, but its importance has gained renewed attention, particularly in combating teacher burnout and maintaining high standards in teaching particularly with digital tools.
- Direct Impact on Learning: Updating educators on the latest technology tools, helps prepare students with relevant skills and tools for today's technology-focused educational environment.
- Support for Equity: Professional development helps with leveling the playing field, especially in under-resourced districts. It ensures that all educators, regardless of their teaching environment, have access to the tools and knowledge they need to provide quality education to every student.
Gamification introduces game-like elements into educational settings, creating an interactive learning experience. This approach blends those traditional teaching methods with the fun and excitement of games, making education both enjoyable and effective. It helps with:
- Increased Engagement: Using platforms like Kahoot! and Quizizz for interactive quizzes and games keeps students interested and actively involved in learning.
- Enhanced Memory: Digital games and puzzles, like those on Breakout EDU, make learning memorable through interactive and enjoyable activities.
- Skill Development: Through challenges and collaborative tasks in gamified environments, students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
- Diverse Learning Styles: Gamification caters to various learner types, and helps with inclusiveness. For example, AR and VR scenarios offer unique ways to engage different senses and learning preferences.
- Real-World Application: Students apply what they learn in practical scenarios within games, preparing them for real-life problem-solving
6. Safety and Wellness
Mental health awareness has become a cornerstone of creating safe and nurturing school environments. In fact, a study done by Safer Watch found that one in three high school students have seen a decline in their emotional well-being in 2023. The data also indicated a startling 40% rise in persistent sadness, hopelessness, and thoughts related to suicide among young people since before the pandemic.
With this in mind, we see schools integrating technology solutions in 2024 that address both physical safety and mental health concerns:
- Comprehensive Safety Technologies: Implementation of AI-powered surveillance and alert systems for physical safety and behavior monitoring.
- Mental and Physical Health Monitoring Tools: Utilization of software like Linewize and GoGuardian's Beacon can detect indicators of self-harm or threats among students.
- Professional Development in Mental Health: Training educators to identify and address mental health issues, providing timely support for students.
- Equitable Access to Mental Health Resources: Ensuring all students have access to necessary mental health services, regardless of their background.
In addition to supporting happier, healthier students, schools are also thinking about their digital security. Cybersecurity will take an even bigger role in education in 2024 as schools fight back against digital threats. Teaching responsible online behavior, investing in your school's cybersecurity infrastructure, recognizing potential cybersecurity risks, and understanding how to protect personal and school data will help keep your students, and educational professionals safe online and create a safer school environment.
Let us know what trend you're most excited about and Contact us to explore how we can collaborate to implement them in your school!