Advanced technology has already been tested in today’s modern classrooms. Several more tools are on the verge of being launched, and this could completely change the way students learn and teachers teach. 2016 is coming to an end, so it’s safe to say that we’ve dealt with our fair share of tools and systems that could change the educational system in 2017 as well. Here are some tech trends that have the highest potential to affect K-12 classrooms and higher.

VR (virtual reality) adds a touch of innovation to learning

It’s no secret that VR technology has gone mainstream this 2016. Many tech companies have already invested millions in developing virtual tech devices, and making them available to the masses. Facebook’s Oculus, Google, HTC, Sony and Samsung are competing in the race for the best VR gadget on the market. The incredible power of VR has recently drawn the attention of the managing director for international education at Dell, Jon Phillips. He recently mentioned in an interview for EdTech that VR can help teach complex issues in a wealth of ways, all different from conventional education methods. It is a genuine opportunity for students to test experiential learning.

Google is well-aware of VR’s potential. They’ve already launched the Expedition Pioneer program, which is all about bringing smartphone-powered cardboard devices into the classroom, thus introducing students to the vast powers of VR.

3D Printing and its attempt to track growth

3D printing technology is already becoming widely available in education. It helps students turn mere ideas into tangible items, thus fostering their imagination and compelling them to put their creative spirit to good use. 2016 has been the year of transformative technology, and even more gadgets will become available for students’ use in the classroom.

The role of 3D printing is not to replicate ideas, but to create new ones. It is an opportunity for kids to craft something unique; something that expresses their imagination. In higher education, 3D printers might even urge learners to develop pioneering engineering skills, giving them the best chances of becoming bedrocks in an industry that’s still under development.

IoT (Internet of Things) goes mainstream

The amount of connected tech devices we use daily keeps multiplying, and they will keep unlocking new ways to expand and connect, thus completely changing the way we live and learn. Companies are all set to invest even more in IoT, and official sources argue that the amount spent thus far of $655.8 billion will skyrocket to $1.7 trillion by 2020.

At this point, the potential of IoT is still being explored as far as education is concerned. Some classrooms are dabbling in the gesture-based control technology that feeds data to devices linked to the internet.

Interactive technologies

The world of advanced technology is becoming smarter, more interactive, and more accessible to the masses. As savvy engineers refine machine learning techniques, the duties and tasks performed by advanced tech devices become even more sophisticated. Whether we like it or not, some gadgets are on the verge of thinking on their own. The sophisticated allure of the IoT permits smaller sized devices to perform extraordinarily. Quite a few innovations are on schedule, and these could revolutionize technology’s role in education.

Watson is IBM’s cognitive computing platform, and it has been recently utilized to change the way higher education research is performed. AI-enhanced methods are no longer a secret; in 2014, the Watson Discovery Advisor has been proven to have amazing abilities, managing to help researchers parse mountains of data. Analysts strongly believe that robotics will have a fundamental role in classrooms. Constance Smith of Frog is an advanced design firm; they argue that toys can change the way students with special needs learn in class.

In the meantime, we’ve already see that programmable robot known as Sphero works pretty well in class. To unlock its potential, however, it just needs to be taught the right lesson. Advanced technology is here to stay, and while some schools only offer pupil mail and basic access to the internet to students, soon enough everything will change. Hopefully, more schools and colleges will recognize that technology wants to help the community, in an attempt to make things better and facilitate a student’s learning process.

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(Featured image credit: Infographic vector designed by Freepik. Used under the Creative Commons Licence.)