A new year brings new possibilities and new enhancements, particularly to educators across the world looking to implement unique techniques and technologies into their classrooms. The dynamic nature of technology development entails drastic changes in the modes of instruction, assessment and even the physical makeup of the classrooms. As the education landscape evolves and virtual schools become more prevalent across the state of Indiana, several trends are speculated to impact the coming year. In order to guarantee student success in 2019 and beyond, Hoosiers must keep up with these anticipated trends.

Personalized learning.

Personalized learning gained attraction in 2018, and it is bound to expand and transform in 2019. The tools and opportunities students are given to take charge of their own education and personalize each approach will forge the path heading into the new year. Educators should be cognitive of this and always allow students to take charge of their education in ways they learn best – whether that be visual, aural, verbal or physical. 

Students can even present what they are learning through many more mediums than ever before. It’s not just about creating a tri-fold poster or writing a research paper anymore, it’s about advanced video production, creating graphics and uploading content on their ePortfolio to showcase how they are mastering their work and fulfilling their educational journey.

Experiential learning.

Educators should be requiring their students to try new technologies and processes throughout the year. With the constant change in technology, it’s vital students and teachers remain educated on new practices and integrate them into the existing curriculum. Experiential learning not only provides students with hands-on learning opportunities, it gives them the chance to reflect on that experience and its educational components, such as inquiry, ideation, critical thinking, creating, modeling, and testing. Computer science courses often integrate experiential learning into each lesson. In fact, starting in July 2021, public school districts throughout Indiana will be required to include computer science in their curriculum for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Another example of experiential learning is virtual reality, which is gradually making its way into classrooms as it shows direct correlation to student engagement. Writer and educator Steven Sato describes the VR phenomenon as "a real world, immersive experience that links key critical core senses together. When hearing, sight, and touch are linked, the subconscious mind cannot distinguish the experience as fake and thus strong memories are created."

Online learning.

In 2019, online learning is expected to gain more attention and provide an avenue to reinforce student’s educational aspirations and careers. Whether leveraged in the classroom or off campus, online learning is expanding educational instruction opportunities substantially, by permitting students tap into resources unlike ever before.

A major reason online learning has proved beneficial is because students are able to move comfortably at their own pace, allowing them to fully understand concepts before stepping into the next lesson. Additionally, with modern technologies like wireless hotspots, students can stay connected to their online learning tools and resources at all times. This 24/7 access provides students a competitive advantage in an ever-evolving technological world helping students ensure future stability and success.

Jeff McMahon is the chief information officer at the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township.

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