5 technologies that will improve learning in 2011

As technology plays an ever increasing role in the world of teaching and learning, what are the key technologies which will have a significant impact in 2011?

1. Xbox Kinect

If 2010 was the year of the Nintendo Wii in the classroom, then surely 2011 will be the year of Microsoft’s controller free game console. I played the Kinect over Christmas, and there’s absolutely no doubt that it offers the next step in games based learning.

2. Tools to support collaborative and cooperative learning

There are already a great number of tools which support collaborative work, from simple apps like Wallwisher to more complete resources like WikiSpaces. 2011 should see an increase in the number of collaborative learner-focused applications, as well as the introduction of  tools to support cooperative learning.

3. Tools to enhance creativity

This year I expect to see a new wave of resources which help to push creativity. Games design tools such as Microsoft’s KoduSploder, and mobile app development programs like Google’s App Inventor will augment the current crop of graphic, video and presentation resources currently freely available online.

4. Increased bandwidth

Not exactly a new technology as such, but as more and more applications make use of “the cloud”, there will be less of a need  for investment in increased processing power and memory, and a greater need for investment in bandwidth. In my own authority for example, both YouTube and BBC iPlayer are blocked to learners because of insufficient bandwidth. Opening up bandwidth will allow students to upload and download content to support their learning.

5. One to one device access

Now is the time to push forward with 1:1 access. The launch of the iPad in 2010 has set the standard for the mobile device, and a whole host of competing tablet devices will be released in 2011. As bandwidth in schools increases (see above), the benefits of having 1:1 access will be far greater, and I expect many UK schools to achieve this in 2011.

Of course, for many schools, providing 1:1 access will be a major challenge. However, it’s not unprecedented. Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock recently provided an iPad for every pupil and as far back as 2008 Islay High School gave every pupil and teacher a mobile device. In this current climate of austerity, I don’t expect that schools or local authorities will fund the technology. Instead, I suspect the preferred model will be for pupils (well, parents) to pay for their own hand-held devices. Whilst £200 for a netbook, or £400 for an iPad might sound expensive, better prices can be negotiated on school-coordinated or authority-coordinated bulk purchases. Not much more expensive than a school trip, and if paid up over a 3 year period, we are only talking £5-£10 per month. Not bad for a device which can be used at school and at home, and cheaper than a mobile phone tariff.

Do you agree ? What technologies do you think will change the shape of learning in 2011?

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