July 01, 2015

Ubiquitous Technology for K-12 Requires Ubiquitous Wi-Fi

Solvable and Wicked Challenges in K-12 Education Presented At ISTE 2015


Many of the sessions at ISTE 2015, the premier forum for learning, exchanging ideas and surveying the field of education technology, dealt with creatively applying technology to broaden the impact of teaching. Technology enables new levels of personalization for teaching students of all backgrounds and abilities, and facilitates scaling education to reach all corners of the world. Good progress was made this year toward crystalizing a vision of the 21st century learning environment. Two sessions in particular dived into the topic: NMC Horizon’s annual presentation of research results and “My School is in my Hoodie: The Potential of Ubiquitous Technology”.

The New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking have been charting the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, and creative inquiry since 2002. This year marks the sixth time they have presented their results at ISTE. Their report is based on the research and discussions of a panel of 56 industry experts. Last year the hottest topics were rethinking the role of teachers and Open Educational Resources.

The report is divided into trends, challenges, and developments with each of those divided into three different timeframes or levels. Here are the important developments reported in the NMC Horizon report with related links to our blogs and solution guides.

  • Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
  • Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
  • Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
    • Digital Badges
    • Wearable Technology – the quantified self movement; especially gaining traction in physical education and health classes

The key trends called out in the report are opportunities to accelerate technology adoption in K-12 education. These are balanced by the major challenges that come later in the report.

  • Long-Term Impact Trends: five or more years
    • Rethinking How Schools Work – Is bell schedule necessary? Do classes need four walls?
    • Shift to Deeper Learning Approaches – Getting students more active in classroom,
  • Mid-Term Impact Trends: three to five years
    • Increasing Use of Collaborative Learning Approaches
    • Shift from Students as Consumers to Creators
  • Short-Term Impact Trends: one to two years
    • Increasing Use of Blended Learning – more online learning, adaptive learning
    • Rise of STEAM Learning – adding art to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

The next part of the report deals with the significant challenges impeding technology adoption in K-12 and is broken into three categories.

  • Solvable Challenges: Those that we understand and know how to solve
    • Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities – with simulations and virtual reality, such as Google Expedition
    • Integrating Technology in Teacher Education
  • Difficult Challenges: Those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive
    • Personalizing Learning – for example, personalized apps and internships
    • Rethinking the Roles of Teachers
  • Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address
    • Scaling Teaching Innovations – often hindered by a lack of resources
    • Teaching Complex Thinking

These trends beg the question, what exactly is 21st century learning? The forward-looking session entitled, My School is in my Hoodie: The Potential of Ubiquitous Technology tacked this topic head on. In so doing, the presenters drilled down into the concepts of wearables, augmented reality, personal learning technologies, E-books, and accessibility.


Examples of wearable technology as presented at ISTE 2015.

An important element of the 21st century classroom is the E-book, whose benefits go far beyond lower cost. Teachers can now encourage all students to enter margin notes and highlight text passages without worrying about permanent changes to the printed page. Student look-ups during reading are dramatically higher with E-books. The next step is sometimes referred to as text book hacking. Teachers have experimented with reordering and modifying the content of the E-books. Things like moving chapter summaries around and repositioning the chapter questions has been found to dramatically increase retention. Teachers are striving for interactive, multimedia text books.

The topic of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was discussed in this session. This video gives a quick overview of the concept of a universal, multi-faceted engaging curriculum.

Building your Roadmap for 21st Century Learning Environments introduced five key topics to help educational leaders plan for the future. The topics are:

  • Assessment and accountability
  • Leadership and culture
  • Learning
  • Teaching and professional learning
  • Infrastructure

The overall goal of the 21st century learning environment is to teach core content, global awareness, entrepreneurial literacy, and life skills. This environment needs to be student-centered and personal, which is not the same as individual. And it will be digital.

A new report from The Economist highlights the challenges: Driving the skills agenda: Preparing students for the future. These are the key findings:

  • 50% of teachers, students and executives cite problem solving as the most important skill for potential employers, with 70% expecting its importance to increase over the next 3 years
  • In addition to problem solving, teamwork and communication are also cited as the most in-demand skills in the workplace
  • 51% of executives say a skills gap is hampering their organizational performance and only 34% claim to be satisfied with the level of attainment of young people entering the company
  • Despite a minority of 18-25-year-olds reporting that their education had provided them with the skills needed in the workplace, 77% claim to be confident or very confident about their career prospects
  • 85% of teachers say that technological advances have changed the way they teach, but only 27% claim to be very confident in developing digital literacy in their students



Extreme Networks demonstrated high density Wi-Fi, critical to delivering ubiquitous technology for the classroom, Purview network analytics, and SDN Skype for Business at ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia.

About The Contributor:
Bob NilssonDirector of Vertical Solutions Marketing

Bob Nilsson is the director of vertical solutions marketing at Extreme Networks. In this role, Mr. Nilsson leads the Extreme Networks strategy and programs for vertical markets including Healthcare, Higher Education, K-12 Education, Federal Government, and Hospitality. He has over 30 years of experience in marketing IT systems to Global 1000 companies worldwide. Before joining Extreme Networks Bob was VP Marketing at Clear Methods. Prior to that Bob held senior marketing positions at Digital Equipment and HP. Bob holds an SB degree in EE from MIT and MBA from Columbia Business School.

See My Other Posts