Education technology has changed as much in the last two decades as over the last century, and there’s more on the horizon. We know effective technology integration helps students better understand the tools future employers will require and technology empowers educators to best engage students in the latest educational concepts.

EdTech recently shared an infographic exploring “22 of the Most Influential Technologies” that have shaped how classrooms function starting in 1860 and culminating with the idea of a few trendy technologies including 3D printing, IoT, wearables and virtual reality potentially playing a meaningful role in education.

While the infographic rightfully includes desks, projectors, calculators, personal computers and even access to the internet as monumental technologies, it falls short in covering a few other meaningful edtech introductions – including the advent of distance learning and other collaboration tools.

 

Why is Collaboration Significant

Tools like video conferencing, desktop sharing and instant messaging open up new doors for students to share thoughts and embrace new perspectives and cultures.  Naturally, understanding how to effectively collaborate does not just happen. It takes an understanding of the principles, concepts and tools as well as the ability to practice in a learning-centric environment. In addition, the ability to effectively collaborate is one of the most commonly referenced skills employers seek, so it only makes sense that students should learn and be exposed to collaboration tools they will eventually see in the workplace.

As such, enabling collaborative learning has become a primary goal as technology partners intently focus on developing tools to help move education forward. According to this post in AV Network, “As collaborative, peer-to-peer activities take hold in classrooms that once focused on traditional lectures, AV needs are changing. Campus Technology recently took the pulse of what’s trending in higher education AV, and stated that “collaboration is driving AV upgrades.”

According to findings, whether students and instructors are collaborating virtually or in person, recent technology transformations including advancements in video collaboration are supporting these efforts. Instructors are in need of resources like web conferencing services, interactive whiteboards, and wireless mirroring tools.

Successful utilization of collaboration tools provides educational institutions with an avenue to more effectively engage students, extend reach, and expand offerings, all the while enabling administrators to overcome budget cuts, operate more efficiently, and extend resources. The most innovative learning environments allow administrators, faculty and students to be anywhere with a connected digital device and have access to educational content via multiple modalities.

 

Extending Collaboration

However, teaching collaboration is only part of the puzzle. The collaboration needs to include all stakeholders to ensure that future technology offerings continue to extend the educator’s ability to maximize their learning environment.

As this Educause Review article suggests unless greater collaborative efforts take place between edtech developers and the greater academic community, as well as more informed deep understandings of how learning and teaching actually occur, any efforts to make edtech education’s silver bullet are doomed to fail.

It will be interesting to see what the next big development in edtech will be and what impact it will have. Stay tuned!