Last modified on 26 January 2015, at 12:42

Trends and Innovations for K-12 Ed Tech Leaders


The Wikibook is titled Trends and Innovations for K-12 Ed Tech Leaders. Technology changes so fast that it is difficult for anyone who cares about education to keep up with the important changes, trends, and innovations. The book focuses on trends and innovations that are important for K-12 educational technology leaders. Under the guidance of the course instructor, four doctoral students will be working on this wikibook as one of the final course projects.

  • I. Description of Trend
  • II. Rationale: Why do you think the chosen trends and/or innovations are important for educational technology leaders?
  • III. Implementation in K-12 settings (cases or major initiatives, successful stories, lessons learned…)
  • IV. Issues: What are the key issues around the identified trends and/or innovations? (already existing or potential drawbacks)
  • V. Related Research: What research evidence have you found regarding the trends and/or innovations you are focusing on. (bulleted lists of research studies done on the trend)
  • VI. Recommended resources (blogs, webpages, twitter hashtags, infographics)

Initial Chapter TopicsEdit


What is e-Portfolio?Edit

An e-Portfolio is a collection of digital materials which ascertains a person's learning and understanding [1]. The items most often found in an e-Portfolio include documents recounting a student's progress such as reflections, ideas, feedback, projects, and papers [2].

Why e-Portfolio is a current trend?Edit

As education continues to change to meet the expanding needs of the diverse learners and the needs for success in the workforce, schools must raise student skills and find ways to embed technology into the curriculum and pedagogy. This trend allows learners to set goals, plan, and record their achievements. e-Portfolios have the ability to empower a student to collect a duration of prescribed documents, confirm accomplishments, and identify personal development planning throughout the learners lifelong journey in school, college, work, and professional growth [3]. An e-Portfolio emmpowers students to increase their understanding by showcasing their work and giving them the chance to reflect. It also provides a storage of work throughout their education including records of achievement, transcripts, and assessments. E-portfolios can be used in a variety of capacities including demonstrating to a perspective college or university a student's accomplishments throughout earlier schooling and for employers it can be a resource to validate skills and abilities, such as communication and teamwork skills[4]

Implementation of e-Portfolio in the K-12 SettingEdit

As education moves towards integrating and implementing technology new visions arise, which includes e-Portfolios.

  • Education has been driven to produce more outcome based results, increasing learning effectiveness, and being held accountable.
  • Through e-Portfolios students will be empowered in managing their achievements, work, and learning goals.
  • Implementation of e-portfolios is easy and free.
  • What is required is deciding on the container (website, blog, wiki, Google site?. Once this decision has been made teachers can, decide on how it will be organized or they can leave this process to the student. Lastly, students begin to post.
  • For e-Portfolios to work it will require:
  1. Learners to have access to computers and the internet
  2. Time - time on the part of the teacher and student
  3. Technical support to both the teacher and student
  4. Ability to have continual storage of the e-Portfolio system
  • Professional development would be required for teachers and tutors to develop new skills to train, educate, and reinforce implementation and on going development needs.
  • Schools would need to incorporate e-Portfolios into the curriculum.
  • When e-Portfolios are done right it can be an authentic learning device for students allowing them to view and share their accomplishments.

Key issues with e-PortfolioEdit

Several issues to be aware of when considering e-Portfolios.

  • Availability of computer access to all students inside and outside of school
  • Technological support for the teacher and student
  • Professional development for teachers
  • Requires additional time to implement, develop, and manage for student and teacher
  • Students may not like the change

Related Research for e-PortfolioEdit

Sutherland, S. and Powell, A. (2007), CETIS SIG mailing list discussions. www. Harel, I. and Papert, S. (1991). Software design as a learning environment. In I. Harel and S. Papert (Eds.) Constructionism, 41-84. Norwood, NJ: Albex.
Beetham, H. (2005)e-portfolios in post-16 learning in the UK: developments, issues, and opportunities. Retrieved from:
Stefani, L., Mason, R., and Pegler, C. (2007). the educational potential of e-portfolios. Routledge: London.
Wenglinsky, H. (1998). Does it compute? The relationship between educational technology and student achievement in mathematics. Educational Testing Service Policy Information Center.

Recommended Resources for e-PorfolioEdit

Flipped ClassroomEdit

What is a Flipped Classroom?Edit

The trend of flipping a classroom is when the teacher substitutes in-class instruction with at home video instruction and utilizes class time for homework assignments and other project based learning activities. Foundation learning occurs through video presentation and formative assessment that occurs beyond the classroom.

Why is Flipped Classroom a current trend?Edit

The design of a flipped classroom is to maximize teacher-student interaction during face-to-face class time. A flipped classroom utilizes project-based learning, integrates technology, and reinforces the classroom time to discuss and collaborate which reinforces the learning process. The initial learning of the lessons occurs at home through videos. This gives students the opportunity to learn at their own pace. When students enter the classroom, the teacher can create teaching and learning opportunities through the differentiation of content, process, assessment and/or learning environment.

Implementation of Flipped Classroom in the K-12 settingsEdit

  • Flipping a classroom is gaining a lot of momentum in teaching.
  • Professor Eric Mazur tested this style of instruction back in the 1990’s at Harvard.
  • Salmen Khan has generated over 2200 videos used for the purpose of educating.
  • The Khan Academy which utilizes this trend.
  • The idea is that students learn the lesson at home through videos and other technologies.
  • In class instruction is spent doing homework assignments and inquiry based projects.
  • Teaching is a form of blended learning which incorporates technology with face to face learning.
  • Teachers can track individual student progress and progress as a whole class.
  • Teachers can monitor time spent on specific topics by individual students.
  • When teachers notice specific students are struggling with a topic or problem they are able to work one-on-one or in small groups to conduct a mini workshop.
  • While working with those struggling students the remainder of the class is able to continue to work on other activities or project based learning.
  • This type of teaching allows instructors to use their time more effectively with students.
  • This concept takes passivity out of the classroom and the teacher becomes more of a coach or a mentor as opposed to a transmitter of learning.

Key issues with Flipped ClassroomEdit

Whenever there is the use of technology there are issues to consider.

  • Availability of computer access to all students outside of school
  • Technological support for the teacher
  • Professional development for teachers
  • Takes a lot of time to produce your lessons as a teacher
  • Students may not like the change from the normal classroom
  • Don't try to rearrange the entire class, start small and build
  • Make sure you have planned activities during class time. They need to be hands on inquiry based projects

Related Research for Flipped ClassroomEdit

Research shows flipped classrooms are

  • Dependent upon coordination between face-to-face and the online aspect of the learning experience (So and Brush, 2008). When these components work together a flipped classroom can be successful (Ginns and Ellis, 2007).
  • Interactive technologies make it possible for educators to qualitatively reconceptualise the teaching and learning dynamic (Strayer, p. 3, 2012).
  • In a flipped classroom teachers are afforded the opportunity to develop stable learning environments (Garrison and Kanuka 2004).

Garrison, R.D., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. Internet and Higher Education 7(2), 95-105.
Sams, A. (2011) Learning, Innovation & Tech Bombs & Breakthroughs. The Flipped Class: Shedding light on the confusion, critique, and hype retrieved from
So, H.J. & Brush, T.A. (2008). Students perceptions of collaborative learning, social presence and satisfaction in a blended learning environment: Relationships and critical factors. Computers and Education 51, 318-336.
Strayer, J. (2012). How learning in an inverted classroom influences cooperation, innovation and task orientation. Learning environments research.

Recommended Resources for Flipped ClassroomEdit
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Ginns, P. and Ellis, R. (2007). Quality in blended learning: Exploring the relationships between on-line and face-to-face teaching and learning. Internet and Higher Education, 10(1), 53-64.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)Edit

What is BYOD?Edit

In a time of tight budget cuts, K-12 schools are looking for options to replace older technology, such as laptops and desktop computers. One option is for students to bring their own laptops, tablets,eReaders and even their own cell phones to school to replace older technology at school.

Why BYOD is a Current TrendEdit

Students are reaching outside of their classroom walls to collaborate with each other, as well as with experts in the field. In their homes, they use their cell phones, laptops and tablets to do their schoolwork. Not only is collaboration an important component of students in the 21st century, but the research available to them is vast, requiring a good system or filing and organization to keep the student's personal work organized. But during the school day, all this material and organization of data is left at home, at a time when students should be adding even more during the school day than they do in the evening. With BYOD, students can now have the best of both worlds.

Implementation of BYOD in the K-12 SettingEdit

There are changes that need to be made to implement BYOD, not just in terms of network preparation, changes in policy and teaching but there are ethical, social and cultural implications, as well. Harris (2012) refers to Neil Postman’s essay “Five Things We Need to Know about Technological Change” when he describes the changes he feels are important for implementing BYOD.

  • Districts need to be able to sustain the additional cost in network capacity, teacher training and the management of stolen, lost or damaged student property.
  • The district will need to be certain to meet the needs of their students, which will require purchasing the technology that parents will not be able to afford.
  • The technology will change classroom atmosphere. Schools can have classes in lounges, rather than in classrooms with desks. Will the school be prepared for this?
  • Standard assessments will be obsolete with BYOD. Students could easily find test answers with their devices.
  • Smartphones will not make students smarter unless they are used to their full potential. A smartphone to text answers to other students will not be making students smarter.

Key Issues with BYODEdit

Benefits of BYOD Norris and Soloway (2011) describe the benefits of BYOD in this way: "…via BYOD, each student has direct access to the entire world’s information, to events, to places, to organizations, to people— in particular, to fellow students. With their computers, students can manipulate whatever they access and can create new content that they can contribute to the world’s information base"(p. 114). Yet in their article, they stress that the devices are merely tools to be used, not the answer to all problems in education today. In the hands of a skilled teacher, using curriculum developed for BYOD, a student will be able to learn and create. BYOD would allow a one-to-one scenario, so that each child would be able to research and crate individually, not merely following the teacher, but exploring information on their own at their own pace.

Puente (2012) reported success with BYOD because administration found less student misbehavior and more student involvement. But again, an important component of the success of BYOD is in teacher training and usage of the devices in a dynamic way. There are currently many lesson plans using technology online. In cases when students do not own their own personal device, students were able to share devices with each other. The school network was open to all students but sites were still secure to protect students from harmful sites.

Downfalls of BYODAs mentioned above, teachers need to be effective with technology, and often teacher training does not include technology. Many teachers, if given the option, will want to continue teaching the way they were taught, which did not use technology. Another downfall for teachers using their own devices are privacy and security issues. Teachers might download a student IEP (Individualized Educational Program) or personal student information on their iPad, the the iPad might be stolen while still containing information that should not be shared. Also, how would the IT department get secure information back from a teacher's device if the teacher leaves the district?

Security and network capability are great concerns for the IT department in districts that are using BYOD. Harris (2012) states the importance of reviewing school policy and "Acceptable Use Policies (AUP). The school network will need to prepare for a huge jump in usage. The school will also have to have a detailed understanding of financial student responsibility, as well as insurances for theft and breakage. The IT department will need to specify what problems they will be accountable to fix when student devices do not work. And until there is functionality common to all devices, district personnel and students will need to patiently work together to resolve sharing issues.

Related Research for BYODEdit

Abaffy, L. (2011). Does anyone have an idea for a manageable, bring-your-own-device policy?. ENR: Engineering News-Record, 267(18), 18.

Harris, C. (2012). Going Mobile. School Library Journal, 58(1), 14.

Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2011). BYOD as the catalyst to transform classroom culture. District Administration, 47(9), 114.

Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2011). From banning to BYOD. District Administration,47(5), 94.

Puente, K. (2012). High school pupils bring their own devices. District Administration, 48(2), 64.

Puenta, K. (2012). Leadership for mobile learning. District Administration, 48(2), 64.

Recommended Resources for BYODEdit

BYOD Resources[5]

iPads in Education Apps[6]

Blogs, Resources and Articles about BYOD[7]

BYOD Lesson Plan Integration[8]

BYOD/BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology[9]

83 (and Growing) BYOD/BYOT Resources for Use in the Classroom[10]

Free Agent LearnersEdit

Who are Free Agent Learners?Edit

Free Agent Learners:

  • Students who take learning into their own hands
  • Students who use a vast range of technology tools, applications, learning resources, outside experts and even each other to make a personalized learning experience
  • Students who are self-directed in their learning and include information sharing and gathering on Facebook, as well as online assessments and tests to gauge their own status in knowledge about a particular topic.
  • Student who use their cell phones/mobile devices for both organization of their gathered information and for increased productivity.

Why Free Agent Learners are a Current TrendEdit

Since 2003, a survey has been given to students, teachers, administrators and parents, by Project Tomorrow, the nation’s leading education nonprofit organization striving to see that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders and engaged citizens. ” …the 2009 Speak Up National Findings provide compelling evidence that our nation’s K-12 students are increasingly taking responsibility ofor their own learning, defining their own education path through alternative sources, and feeling not just a right by a responsibility for creating personalized learning experiences. This ‘Free Agent Learner’ student profile is not a future persona for students that are beyond the current purview of today’s schools, Rather, the Free Agent Learner characteristics accurately depict the way many of today’s students are approaching learning.” ("Speak up 2009”, 2010, p. 2).

Free Agent Learners in the K-12 SettingEdit

The term, “digital native” has been changed to “free agent learner” by Project Tomorrow, believing that the term “free agent learner” more accurately describes a part of a generation that is interconnected through the internet, and not tethered to traditional educational institutions (Waters, J. K., 2011). These free agent students know that the schoolhouse, teacher and textbook are not the only ones with a monopoly on knowledge or the educational process. Instead, these students are leveraging a large range of tools, applications, learning resources, outside experts and even each other to make a personalized learning experience.

The technology-based experiences the free agent student uses are self-directed by the students themselves, and include information sharing and gathering on Facebook, as well as online assessments and tests to gauge their own status in knowledge about a particular topic. The student uses their cell phone for organization of their gathered information and for increased productivity. A free agent learner will take an online class for knowledge, but not necessarily for a grade. They will access podcasts and videos to help them in classes they have difficulty in, and they contact experts (as well as other students) online to share new ideas and explore content. Using emerging technologies, these students are taking their educational destiny and future into their own hands, and are adapting technology tools for a lifetime of learning. ("Speak up 2009”, 2010)

With the use of technology and the internet, classrooms are being transformed. Instead of the “I teach” mentality, the classroom becomes “we teach”. The teacher is never a barrier in learning because the teacher does not know the answer, but both students and teacher can access the internet for questions they have. Students have the information of the world at their fingertips.

Key Issues with Free Agent LearnersEdit

The potential difficulties or risks would be allowing students to be online without any safeguards in place. If the student brings in mobile devices in the classroom, and the school network is used, the students’ online searches would be protected. However, unless there are parental filters in place, a student could go very quickly to a place online that is not safe, and material that is inappropriate could be seen. Also, the student would need to be very careful to verify the site’s validity and ownership so as not to record false and inaccurate information.

In an article in the Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, DeSilets asks this question, “Are you ready to start designing rich, enabled learning activities for intentional learners so they can discover what they need to know to be successful health care professionals?” (DeSilets, 2011, p. 340). Will middle and high school teachers in all subject areas be able to design rich, enabled learning activities for their students to help them discover what they need to know to be a successful student and citizen? What would be the result of a class room of free agent learners in a traditional setting, unable to search on their own?

"In many ways, that Free Agent Learner is every teacher's dream. Nvertheless, that learner is challenging and disruptive of the order of authority of the classroom that has been comfortable to us...more and more of these learners...must find the traditional classroom more constraining and even less relevant every year." (Mardis, M. & Howe, K., 2010, p. 9).

Related Research for Free Agent LearnersEdit

DeSilets, L. D. (2011). Are You Ready for the Net Generation or the Free Agent Learner?. Journal Of Continuing Education In Nursing, 42(8), 340-342. doi:10.3928/00220124-20110722-02

Dualeh, A. (n.d.). A student vision for digital learning. Retrieved from

Free agent learners and career and technical education. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Mardis, M., & Howe, K. (2010). STEM for Our Students: Content to Co-conspiracy?. Knowledge Quest, 39(2), 8-11.

Nagel, D. (2009). Students as 'free agent learners'. The JOURNAL, Retrieved from

Speak up 2009: Creating our future. (2010, March). Project Tomorrow, 26. Retrieved from

Waters, J. K. (2011). Will the real digital native please stand up?. Campus Technology Magazine, 25(2), 26-31.

Recommended Resources For Free Agent LearnersEdit

Speak Up 2009[11]

Project Tomorrow[12]

Knowledge Quest (Expanding Capacity for Classroom Integration of Digital Resources, p. 54)[13]

Free Agent Learners[14]

Resources for Free Agent Learners, K-12[15]

Defining the Emerging Role of Social Learning Tools to Connect Students, Parents & Educators[16]

Mobile Learning: The use of tablets, One-to-one initiatives, & E-textbooksEdit

What is Mobile Learning?Edit

Mobile learning in both formal and informal environments continues to grow as technology evolves. “Just as the college students of 2010 do not remember a time in their lives when the internet did not exist, the young children of today will not remember a time when there was not pad-based mobile devices and smart phones” (Geist, 2011)[17] . Because of this, three trends are emerging collectively as a means to increase student productivity and engagement, while at the same time, reducing educational cost for school leadership. Tablet PCs, one-to-one initiatives and e-textbooks, when used together, can help teachers and students by incorporating the basics of mobile learning for each student in a format the student thrives using. Learning is no longer confined to the traditional classroom constructs allowing a variety of experiences to be academically saturated.

Over the last 50 years, many trends have claimed to be an idea that would change the teaching and learning process. However, few have offered the capabilities of the Tablet PC. Tablet PCs are traditional wireless notebook computers with the ability to produce digital ink by writing with a stylus or utilizing a touchscreen. Tablet PCs are lightweight, startup quickly, and may include removable keyboards or rotating screens. With many of the capabilities of a traditional computer, tablet PCs are effectively limiting the items a student needs for class by providing the opportunity to access documents and e-textbooks, take notes, and participate in interactive applications all from any location. The cost of an average tablet PC is between $200 and $500, which includes the entry level iPad, yet basic tablet models can cost less than $200. The cost of this device makes feasibility of a tablet PC initiative possible for many schools.

In education, many leaders have considered implementation of a one-to-one initiative which provides each student with a computer to support learning. Specifics details for this initiative are typically defined by the program manager at the local level deciding on whether students take devices home, possible internet restricts, memory usage , and other external factors. The primary component of any one-to-one program places technology in the students’ hands to use as a tool daily. In a study conducted by Penuel (2006)[18], research shows that “in order for technology to make a powerful difference in student learning, students must be able to use computers more than once or twice a week in a lab at school” (as cited in Kozma, 1991). Many educational readers understand the benefits of this trend, yet face barriers prior to implementation. One of the biggest obstacles for this program remains the cost. Yet with rapid advances in technology and the onset of the tablet PC movement, cost is decreasing as a hindrance. Many researchers argue that implementation of a one-to-one initiative supports equalization of learning opportunities for students of varied socioeconomic levels (Penuel, 2006).

While e-textbooks were a new trend ten years ago, this trend is currently rising because of the popularity of e-readers and tablet PCs as well as changes made by publishing companies to increase user-friendliness. “According to a recent sales report from the Association of American Publishers, adult e-book sales rose 49.4% in January 2012, more than triple the growth in mass market paperback sales (Miller, et al., 2012)[19]. With more people familiar with consuming textbooks digitally versus paper formats (McCarthy, 2011)[20], the sales of e-textbooks is predicted to also grow. Advantages include “widespread accessibility, interactivity, increased visual appeal and dynamic linking to supplemental materials” (Murray & Perez, 2011)[21]. These changes can help students actively engage in the reading for all content areas.

Why Mobile Learning is a Current TrendEdit

Educational technology leaders should find the use of tablets, one-to-one initiatives and e-textbooks as important trends for many reasons. Many schools face a budgetary obstacle when pursuing technological advancements. However, the impact of these three initiatives together could prove more affordable for districts and more beneficial for students. Tablet technology is rapidly becoming an accessible and affordable method of utilizing many programs in schools and businesses. One-to-one initiatives have gained popularity as device costs have decreased. Additionally, one-to-one programs provide each student with the capability to utilize technology without isolation to one classroom or teacher. The student can utilize similar technology throughout the school day increasing familiarity and user understanding. Finally, e-textbooks are additionally appealing because of the cost of replacement books. In a school or district where a one-to-one program is already employed, using e-textbooks would be a logical solution considering each student would already have a device.

Besides the economic benefits, the use of tablets in a one-to-one program could also prove beneficial for student engagement and learner motivation. “The old model of pedagogy— teacher focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all— makes no sense to young people who have grown up in a digital world” (Tapscott, 2008)[22]. Students are likely to enjoy utilizing tablets which will allow for further investigation into topics related to lessons based on learner preferences. Tablets have a variety of functions which benefit students related to assistive technology tools, yet at times this singles out students with learning disabilities from the rest of the students. Implementation of this trend would help a population of students because they would no longer be singled out as the only student able to use the tablet in the classroom based on his or her need for assistive tools. By incorporating e-textbooks, learner interactivity improves.

Implementation of Mobile Learning in the K-12 SettingEdit

  • Morrisville, North Carolina's Program:
  • Cardinal Community School District, Eldon, Iowa:
  • Maine Learning Technology Initiative:
  • Newell High School Tablet Program, Newell, South Dakota

Key Issues with Mobile LearningEdit

While there are many benefits to implementing these trends, several concepts must be considered prior to and throughout implementation.

  • Infrastructure and electrical updates to support the facility needs
  • Professional development and support for faculty members
  • Best practice strategies regarding appropriate instruction for authentic learning
  • Technical support must be available and a protocol for addressing issues with student machines must be established prior to device deployment
  • User agreement policy is drafted and explained for all students

Related Research for Mobile LearningEdit

Akhavan, A. (2012). "Should tablets replace textbooks in k-12 schools?" ProCon.Org

Chi, M. T. H. (2009). Active-constructive-interactive: A conceptual framework for differentiating learning activities. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1, 73-105. DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2008.01005.x

El-Gayar, O., Moran, M., & Hawkes, M. (2011). Students' acceptance of tablet PCs and implications for educational institutions. Educational Technology & Society, 14 (2), 58–70. Geist, E. (2011). The game changer: Using iPads in college teacher education classes. College Student Journal, 45(4), 758-768.

Johnston, P. (2011). E-Texts come of age in the United States. Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies, 11(4), 2-4.

McCarthy, D. (2011). Mobile perspectives: On E-Books. E-Reading--The transition in higher education. EDUCAUSE Review, 46(2), 20-22,.

McKenzie, W. & Franke, K. (2009). How are Tablet PCs transforming the learning experience in higher education? [PDF Document]. Retrieved from

Miller, J. R., Nutting, A. W., Baker-Eveleth, L., & Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. (2012). The determinants of electronic textbook use among college students. Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Retrieved from

Moran, M., Hawkes, M., & El Gayar, O. (2010). Tablet personal computer integration in higher education: Applying the unified theory of acceptance and use technology model to understand supporting factors. Journal Of Educational Computing Research, 42(1), 79-101.

Murray, M., & Pérez, J. (2011). E-Textbooks are coming: Are we ready?. Issues In Informing Science & Information Technology, 849-60. Retrieved from

Penuel, W. R. (2006). Implementation and effects of one-to-one computing initiatives: A research synthesis. Journal of Research On Technology In Education, 38(3), 329-348. Retrieved from

Tapscott, D. (2008). How to teach and manage 'generation net'. BusinessWeek Online. Retrieved from tbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

Recommended Resources for Mobile LearningEdit

Geist, E. (2011). THE GAME CHANGER: USING IPADS IN COLLEGE TEACHER EDUCATION CLASSES. College Student Journal, 45(4), 758-768.

Goldberg, A. (2012). Windows 8 facilitates classroom tablets.

Kessler, S. (2011). School tech: 6 important lessons from Maine's student laptop program.

Lytle, R. (2012). Tablets trump laptops in high school classrooms.

Steinweg, S., Williams, S., & Stapleton, J. (2010). Faculty Use of Tablet PCs in Teacher Education and K-12 Settings. Techtrends: Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 54(3), 54-61.

Van Oostveen, R. R., Muirhead, W., & Goodman, W. M. (2011). Tablet PCs and Reconceptualizing Learning with Technology: A Case Study in Higher Education. Interactive Technology And Smart Education, 8(2), 78-93.

Adaptive LearningEdit

What is Adaptive LearningEdit

Adaptive learning is an educational method which uses computers as interactive teaching devices. Computers adapt the presentation of educational material according to students' learning needs, as indicated by their responses to questions and tasks. The motivation is to allow electronic education to incorporate the value of the interactivity afforded to a student by an actual human teacher or tutor. With the promise of personalized learning, instruction and quizzes aimed at a student’s specific needs and skills, adaptive learning is poised for widespread adoption, both at the K-12 and higher education levels.

Why is Adaptive Learning is a Current TrendEdit

Shrinking budgets combined with higher expectations and more rigorous standards put increasing pressure on schools and teachers to do more with less. Adaptive learning technologies build on great teaching in the classroom by providing students with an individualized learning environment that is engaging and responsive to their own needs.

It is also an important trend in educational technology because as learners and instructors move online, adaptive learning is a more sophisticated solution for developing meaningful online relationships. If developed and used correctly, intelligent e-learning systems will clearly have a positive impact on the accessibility, affordability, and quality challenges that now confront global education and training. Adaptive learning is also important because it will enable learners to select their own learning components to customize their personalized learning environments. Secondly, it enables them to offer more varied solutions that can adapt content to fit their own individual educational objectives.

Finally it is an important trend for educational technology due of the four aspects to adaptive learning: content management, access to instructors, system security, and tracking student activity. The leader who wants to implement this trend must have a strategy in place to address all four issues before an educational institution or organization can successfully implement an adaptive learning solution.

Adaptive Learning in the K-12 SettingEdit

Currently there are three major Adaptive Learning programs currently used by K-12 and Higher Education is LearnSmart, Power of U, and ALEKS.

  • LearnSmart is a study tool for higher education that adaptively assesses students' skill and knowledge levels to track which topics students have mastered and which require further instruction and practice
  • The Power of U is a digitally rich personalized middle school math pilot program that uses real-time assessment data to group students in ways that allow them to learn at their own pace, in their own style, using the medium that works best for them (i.e. teacher-led or small group instruction or virtual tutoring).
  • ALEKS is a web-based assessment and learning system created by the ALEKS Corporation and currently is used in colleges and universities enjoyed pass rates of 76 percent, versus 51 percent for students in different sections of the same Algebra class who did not use ALEKS.

Key Issues with Adaptive LearningEdit

Understanding these adaptive learning technologies is also important because they may soon begin to change the face of education as we know it. The tailored curriculums that come with these technologies provide four things for the students:

  • Instant feedback
  • Personalized learning
  • Supporting different learning styles
  • Reflection and self-awareness

Concerns for Adaptive Learning

  • Does the technology offer only a few paths with student-directed pacing or does it offer a multitude of learning paths?
  • Does the technology only focus on practice or does it offer a rich environment for developing conceptual understanding and problem solving?
  • Does the technology appeal to a narrow range of students or does it empower all students with choices and personalized challenges that help them take ownership of their learning experience?
  • What is the cost factor for implementing this technology and would it cost positions in the end?

Related Research for Adaptive LearningEdit

Derrick, K. (n.d.). 4 ways adaptive learning technology can improve education. Retrieved from

Kelly, D. (2008). Adaptive versus learner control in a multiple intelligence learning environment. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 17(3), 307-336.

Magoulas, G., Papanikolaou, K., & Grigoriadou, M. (2003). Adaptive web-based learning: accommodating individual differences through system's adaptation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34 (4), 511–527.

Papanikolaou, K., Grigoriadou, M., Kornilakis, H., & Magoulas, G. (2003). Personalizing the interaction in a web-based educational hypermedia system: the case of INSPIRE. User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, 13, 213-267.

Papanikolaou, K., Mabbott, A., Bull, S., & Grigoriadou, M. (2006). Designing learner-controlled educational interactions based on learning/cognitive style and learner behavior. Interacting with Computers, 18, 356–384.

Schiaffino, S., Garcia, P., & Amandi, A. (2008). eTeacher: providing personalized assistance to e-learning students. Computers & Education, 51, 1744–1754.

Sessink, O., Beeftink, H., Tramper, J., & Hartog, R. (2007). Proteus: a lecturer-friendly adaptive tutoring system. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 18 (4), 533-554.

Recommended Resources for Adaptive LearningEdit


The Power of U[24]


Dreambox Learning[26]

Natural User InterfacesEdit

What are Natural User InterfacesEdit

A natural user interface (NUI) is a system for human-computer interaction that the user operates through intuitive actions related to natural, everyday human behavior. Natural User Interfaces may be operated in a number of different ways, depending on the purpose and user requirements. Some examples of Natural User Interfaces are motion-sensing equipment such as Microsoft Kinect, the touchscreens of tablets and phones, and voice-activation technology.

Why are Natural User Interfaces is a Current TrendEdit

The idea of a natural user interface can be considered a trend in educational technology because of the amount of space that will be needed to use these emerging technologies as well as the change in hardware and software that will need to accompany the use of this technology in the classroom setting. Teachers will be able to incorporate the technology into lessons in math, reading, social studies, science, music and physical education. For example, as students could simulate playing darts, count their tosses and hits, then calculate fractions, percentages and decimals. In physical education, students won’t realize they’re exercising as they mimic digital dancers. For the special education students, playing virtual games by using themselves as the remote or interface could help with fine-motor skills.

Natural User Interfaces in the K-12 SettingEdit

An example of how NUI’s can be incorporated into the K-12 setting is the Loudoun County school system which has been experimenting with the Kinect since last year. Students essentially act as their own remote controls to power the device, which has powerful sensors that capture the user’s movements. The games display on a TV or projector screen and the teachers incorporate the technology into lessons in math, reading, social studies, science, music and physical education. For example, as students simulate playing darts, they count their tosses and hits, and then calculate fractions, percentages and decimals. In physical education, students barely realize they’re exercising as they mimic digital dancers(Mellon, 2012). Loudoun County has seen particular success in using the gaming system with special education students, particularly those on the autism spectrum, who struggle with social skills. The students create avatars and then articulate a story about one of their social challenges and their plans for coping with it in the future(Mellon, 2012). As the student speaks, so does the avatar, projected on a screen a few feet away. The teachers and parents say the children embrace the task because they see it as a game and are less fearful because they are speaking through an avatar. Autistic students, tasked with navigating a virtual raft down a virtual river with their classmates, practice cooperation, social skills and overcoming obstacles(Mellon, 2012).

Key Issues with Natural User InterfacesEdit

NUIs are attractive tools for education and training because of the potential to create(Rees, 2010):

  • A sense of immediacy and immersion in the learning environment
  • A sense of individualized engagement
  • An adaptive learning environment that responds as the learner interacts with it
  • Collaboration environments that respond quickly to users’ intentions (e.g., via gestures)
  • A virtual lab experience (e.g., allowing users to interact with virtual models and other objects)
  • Educational tools for learners who learn differently (e.g., learners with autism)
  • Educational tools for learners with physical challenges (e.g., learners with mobility challenges might use text commands to drive computer interactions)

There are also concerns over NUI’s:

  • Cost-benefit ratios (very device/application specific)
  • Mobility of a particular platform/device(for items like the Kinect and Wii)
  • The learning curve needed to optimize use of the tool(professional development)
  • The ability to integrate the device into natural learning (and work) flows

Related Research for Natural User InterfacesEdit

Antle, A., Wise, A., & Nielsen, K. (2011). Towards utopia: Designing tangibles for learning. IDC, Retrieved from

Ballmer, S. "CES 2010: A Transforming Trend -- The Natural User Interface." The Huffington Post, January 12, 2010, from

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

Mellon , E. (2012, September). Gesturing to learn. District Administration, Retrieved from

Norman, D. (n.d.). Natural user interfaces are not natural. Retrieved from

Rees, D. (2010, November 15). Natural user interfaces as natural learning tools. Retrieved from

Salat, L. (2011). Multitouch & natural user interface: Opportunities for a bottom-up approach. TACTINEO, Retrieved from

Xie, C. (2012, August 21). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Recommended Resources for Natural User InterfacesEdit

NUI videos on vimeo [27]

Microsoft Research: New Natural Interfaces [28]

  1. Sutherland and Powell, 2007
  2. Beetham, 2005
  3. JICS Info Net
  4. Stefani, Mason, & Pegler, 2007
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  22. Tapscott, D. (2008). How to teach and manage 'generation net'. BusinessWeek Online. Retrieved from tbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice
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