Game-based learning (particularly the digital variety) depends on the health of the EdTech industry, rising and falling with the adoption of hardware and the evolution of education policy. So as another year unfurls before us, we’re peering into our fila-palantir to see what 2018 will bring to EdTech. Check out our predictions below and be sure to come back at the end of the year to celebrate or jeer in the comments, depending on how accurate these are:
Have you heard about VR? We may have mentioned it once or twice. There’s been a lot of hand-wringing lately about the commercial viability of VR, but the only thing we’re wringing at Filament is tremendous learning value out of this exciting new medium. That’s because for one thing, we’re highly confident that VR changes learning and offers new modalities for content consumption and experiential education. But there’s another reason – we’re keeping a close watch on the industry, and it seems extremely likely that 2018 is the year that VR stands up on it’s own. No more tethers, no more wires, no more phones, no more nuclear-powered PC to run it all. The Oculus Go, out in early 2018, is one such device, and is positioned to compete with Samsung’s Gear VR in terms of fidelity, with the advantage of being standalone.
Microsoft, a new entrant into the space, has released a series of standalone “mixed reality” headsets with partners like Dell, Asus, and HP, using HoloLens technology to map the playspace using inside-out tracking. As these new competitors refine their offerings, the VR space will benefit from greater variety across the spectrums of price point and fidelity. Here’s hoping we see more consumer adoption as a result!
Personalized Learning, For Real
Personalized learning is not exactly a new buzzword in 2017 – I’ve personally been seeing that term for about a decade now in EdTech press. If you’re unfamiliar, what this phrase references is the idea that each learner needs a learning experience that is personal to their own needs, competencies, learning styles, and other characteristics. In spirit, it’s an effort to broaden access to the type of personally tailored, high-quality education usually reserved to the very privileged. Richard Culatta, CEO at ISTE, unpacked this concept in an interview with The74 in 2017, and it’s a great overview of the topic. The reason I’m calling this as a major development for next year is that the philanthropic powerhouse Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has targeted personalized learning as a top priority for 2018. This suggests that their expansive funding and promotional activities will align to supporting personalized learning in educational environments across the country.
Equifax, Verizon, Uber, political parties, Dun & Bradstreet – who hasn’t been hacked lately? Even I recently had to dispute $400 of illegal Pampered Chef purchases on my credit card, which is an awful lot of spatulas. It’s no wonder then that privacy concerns dominated 2017 student data legislation. Per thejournal.com, “data privacy showed up in 93 of 183 state bills touching on education data.” That’s a little more than half, and is demonstrative of our increasing anxiety around our personal information and how it is accessed, and more importantly, protected. Doug Levin, founder and president of EdTech Strategies, recently wrote for EdSurge that “As we come to the close of 2017, it is increasingly evident that K-12 cybersecurity threats are neither hypothetical, nor imagined.” He’s even created a K-12 Cyber Incident Map if you want to watch and freak out in real time. In my view, K-12 shares this burden with the rest of our technology-driven world – note that none of the companies I listed at the outset are explicitly or exclusively Education companies. That being said, the problem is certainly existential and urgent, and is something that technologists will likely always contend with as technology becomes increasingly central to learning, working, and living.