IT Management

5 Big Tech Trends Worth Watching This School Year

By Benjamin Herold — September 04, 2018 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Sure, there will be new apps, devices, and gadgets in schools across the country this year. But deeper forces are also at work: Dozens of states are in the midst of adding an entirely new academic discipline, computer science. Sensing schools’ safety fears and the possibility of a new market, security companies are making a strong push to get into K-12. Online threats such as the spread of misinformation and cyberattacks are spreading, presenting new challenges for educators and administrators alike. And it doesn’t look like the craze of Fortnite, an online shooter game, is going away anytime soon. Here’s what to watch in 2018-19. Click through the gallery below:

High-Tech School Safety

Panic buttons. Facial-recognition systems. Anonymous tiplines. Social-media monitoring services. Name the technology, and a company somewhere is likely trying to convince schools that it can be used to help prevent the next school shooting. So far, adoption has been spotty. Critics have loudly raised worries about privacy and civil liberties. And those who know school safety best say that school shootings remain rare, and following existing guidelines (lock the gate!) will likely be more impactful than huge new purchases. Still, the pressure on schools to take visible steps to improve safety is immense, and the lure of new technologies could prove difficult to resist.

The Changing Face Of Gaming

For the moment, at least, Fortnite shows no signs of going the way of Pokemon Go and fidget spinners. The game, in which 100 players compete to be the last one standing, remains hugely popular, with an estimated 40 million logged-in users each month. Many educators view the game as a headache or threat, saying it taxes school internet connections and teachers’ classroom-management skills. But some argue that Fortnite (and similar games) can be a powerful tool for learning. And don’t look now, but competitive e-sports are already a thing in hundreds of U.S. high schools.

Computer Science

Thanks to a big push from Silicon Valley and statehouses around the country, 70 percent of K-12 principals now say computer science education is on their radar screens. For districts that have already started down this road, the challenge now is to expand beyond after-school programs and introductory courses to create multiyear computer science pathways for students. Schools just jumping on the trend, meanwhile, will have to contend with a flurry of pitches for products purporting to teach coding in a few easy steps—a very different strategy from the more conceptual “computational thinking” approach that many experts recommend.

Media Literacy

With recent tweets lambasting everything from Google search results to CNN to social-media companies, there’s no end in sight to President Donald Trump’s ongoing war on what he calls “fake news.” And the digital-information landscape is changing at warp speed, with new voices, content, and formats further blurring the boundaries between fake and real, news and entertainment, and authenticity and artifice. In response, a wide range of groups—including Common Sense Media, Facebook, and the News Literacy Project—are unveiling new or updated media-literacy and digital-citizenship resources for the classroom. Even so, do schools have any chance of keeping up?

Cybersecurity

Schools’ back-end IT systems don’t often get much attention—until a district is being held for ransom by hackers, students are caught changing grades, or the personal information of thousands of teachers is compromised via a phishing scheme. All of the above generated negative headlines for schools last year. Still, it’s not clear if districts are taking even basic steps to better protect themselves, such as implementing password-management systems and two-factor authentication. Despite having little money to throw at the problem, will 2018-19 be the year that school technology leaders finally take cybersecurity threats seriously?

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 05, 2018 edition of Education Week as 5 Big Tech Trends Worth Watching This School Year

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Management What Schools Can Do Now to Ensure Their New Technology Lasts Beyond the COVID Cash Boom
Devices bought with federal emergency funds are going to be outdated in a few years, with no new money to replace them.
8 min read
Illustration of computers and peripherals in recycle bin.
Illustration by F. Sheehan/Education Week (Images: iStock/Getty and E+)<br/>
IT Management Q&A What We've Learned From a Quarter Century of 1-to-1 Computing
A school district tech expert outlines how the expanded use of laptops in schools has created opportunities and challenges.
4 min read
Illustration of woman using laptop.
Illustration by F. Sheehan/Education Week (Images: iStock/Getty and E+)
IT Management Q&A Khan Academy Founder on How to Boost Math Performance and Make Free College a Reality
"There's something very strange happening in the education system," Khan Academy Founder Sal Khan told Education Week.
9 min read
Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy
Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy
Business Wire via AP
IT Management From Our Research Center How Tech-Driven Teaching Strategies Have Changed During the Pandemic
Expanded use of popular tools like Khan Academy, Google Classroom, and Accelerated Reader point to lasting changes in how teachers work.
7 min read
Illustration of a group of diverse people making a website site with chart, profile and video icons.
iStock/Getty Images Plus