2011 was a very interesting year in terms of technology in the classroom, and certainly 2012 promises to be even more dynamic. It has been interesting to watch how so many wonderful technological innovations have started to impact how students learn and how teachers teach, both inside and outside of the classroom. It has also been very interesting to see how the classroom has adjusted to technology.

And while this is a trend the will continue way beyond the coming year, it has also been very nice to watch how this “story” has been told. It seems that 2011 in particular was a breakthrough year in terms of the new narrative of technology and the classroom. So much of that can be directly attributed to mobile computing (the iPad, the iPhone and the Droid phones certainly leap out) but beyond mobile, it does appear that there has been a much greater appreciation for how technology can help inspire and enhance overall student outcomes.

We are starting to see more articles on how teachers might utilize social tools, and in large part this is due to the prevalence of these social networks. Beyond their utility, another interesting development in our opinion is that the prevalence of these social networks, along with other new technologies (the past 20 years) has also inspired an entire generation of students (and adults) to once again get excited about technology!

Taking this idea that technology in education has begun to have a much wider acceptance and adoption rate, it has been very nice to see so many traditional media players actively support this space. In particular if we look at US News & World Report, they now have an entire section of their site devoted exclusively to online education. In 2012 they appear to be releasing a report detailing what they feel are “the best” in this space.

Another major announcement that is great news for 2012 was just put out by MIT. MIT has a long tradition of supporting technology with regard to education, having been a leader in this space, but their most recent announcement goes even further. They are releasing a new online education initiative called MITx which in addition to providing free to use online education resources that anyone can avail themselves of, MITx will also release an open source education platform that any educational entity will be able to develop from.

Other great resources are also contributing so much in terms of both introducing and validating technology in the classroom, and discovering and interacting with these entities has been a great source of inspiration and motivation for so many. In particular at Why Science we have been paying close attention to the great reporting done by eSchool News.

In terms of studies and reports, there still continues to be a pressing need to spend more time analyzing solutions, data and trends, but one report we thought was particularly interesting was done by Lenovo, where they examined global trends regarding STEM learning.

And all the above doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg! We could spend days simply reviewing actual technologies that have been developed and released that are now really starting to impact how our students learn. This space is really starting to take off!

And so as we review the general trends of 2011 it is hard not to be very excited about the prospects for 2012! The upcoming year has some amazing potential. Perhaps it has to do with maturing and evolving technologies? Maybe it has to do with the fact that our economy is in need of more STEM professionals, or perhaps it is as simple as the time is right. Whatever the reasons, we here at Why Science are very excited about the prospects overall for STEM education and in particular we are looking forward to seeing how technology continues to move the needle – 2012 promising to be a great year!

 

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