Impact of Technology Trends on Education

Impact of Technology Trends on Education

technology-educationThink about the ways that technology has influenced your own instruction and education. From the graphite pencil to the wearable devices that students are using, technology has always affected education. And although there have been some failed experiments—laserdiscs anyone? —technology has made a difference in learning for students and teachers.

Crowdsourcing, virtual reality, and augmented reality are three recent trends that are impacting education. Read on to explore these trends, discover resources, and more importantly, discuss how educators can maximize learning with these trends.


Have you ever used Wikipedia to gain a quick understanding of an idea or concept? Then you have already experienced a product of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is the means by which online users work together to provide needed services, ideas, or content. It is a means of distributed problem solving. Besides Wikipedia, where anyone can provide properly sourced information about a topic, sites like and also use crowdsourcing. These sites allow individuals to ask for support on a project, then members of the crowd determine if they want to support those projects with their own money.

A specific type of crowdsourced resources are open source resources–those that are created and developed by an online group. One example of open source is software in which the programming code is available to all and can be modified and then shared with others. The Android operating system is an open source program that anyone can use and develop for free. The underlying philosophy is that the synergy of a group working together provides a better product than that which could be created by an individual or small group.

Crowdsourcing and open source resources have already begun to have a substantial impact on education. With the cash-strapped climate of the current education sector, crowdsourcing provides a means for accessing quality material at no cost. More importantly, although there are materials that may be of lesser quality, these resources are vetted by the “crowd,” which provides reviews and creates improvements. Some examples of educational crowdsourced resources include mini-grant funding to support projects in classrooms and schools; opportunities for student (and teacher!) participation in more expansive real-world projects; and an extensive collection of education resources.

Much of the educational open source content that exists is primarily teacher-focused. For example, Curriki and OER Commons are vast libraries of content that can be browsed by standards and types of content. Open Ed allows teachers to search the vast library and bookmark resources as teachers see fit. More recently, a number of open source content providers that are both student- and teacher-focused, such as Khan Academy, LearnZillion, and MIT Open Courseware, have become available. They provide not only content such as videos and interactives, but now they are adding curriculum-building tools and adaptive engines that help teachers monitor students’ progress. One thing to note: Khan Academy, LearnZillion, and MIT Open Courseware are sites where you have to be a member of the organization to post materials. However, teachers can post comments and report if there are any problems.

The best part of crowdsourcing is the democratization of content. Instead of lesson plans and resources being locked away in teacher’s desks and computers, teachers can share their great ideas with other teachers all over the world. More importantly, students can begin to participate as global citizens through their own sharing of content as part of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing Resources:

  • Wikipedia –an online, crowdsourced encyclopedia
  • GoFundMe – an online donation site
  • DonorsChoose – provides teachers with the ability to ask for support for a project in their classroom
  • KickStarter – allows individuals to ask others to support the development of a project with funds
  • Curriki – crowdsourced site full of learning resources for teachers from all over the world
  • OER Commons – open educational resource site for teachers
  • Open Ed – crowdsourced site that is focused on supporting teaching and assessing to standards
  • Khan Academy – robust site that allows students and teachers to view tutorial videos in support of standards
  • LearnZillion – much like Khan Academy
  • MIT Open Courseware – open source college course materials from MIT

Virtual Reality

Do you remember the movies and science fiction that posited our future would have us all interacting with the real world through virtual reality (VR) goggles, gloves, and headphones? Well, many companies have tried to bring VR to the masses, but the attempts have been either disappointing or very expensive…until now.

Oculus has created VR devices recently that are very effective at experiencing a virtual 3D world, but the cost is still too high for most schools. Google recently created a cardboard device that works with smartphones (Android or Apple iOS) to immerse the user in a virtual world. That’s right… it is really made out of cardboard and it is very inexpensive. More importantly, it works! Google also created an app to go with the cardboard device that works on both iOS and Android devices. An increasing number of other app developers have created content to work with Google Cardboard as well..

Does VR nurture learning? It will take time to see. However, the impact on education is beginning to take hold. With VR tools such as Google Cardboard and the growing number of apps that work with the device, students can safely conduct simulations of dangerous or very expensive experiments. Schools can use VR to send students on virtual field trips that they may have never been able to provide before because of cost or distance. Virtual reality allows games and concepts, such as deep diving in the ocean or exploring outer space, to come to life. Students and teachers can even create their own VR experiences to share with others.

Does VR replace the real world? No. However, VR augments what students can experience in the classroom. With the growing number of VR apps, we will have to see how far teachers and students can take VR in the classroom…or maybe, how far VR can take teachers and students.

Virtual Reality Resource:

  • Google Cardboard – This site provides information on the Google Cardboard device and supporting apps
  • Virtual Field Trips – Allows schools to “send” students on field trips that are too far or costly for schools

Augmented Reality

Like VR, augmented reality (AR) is another technology trend impacting education. Augmented reality is technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. There are two main parts to AR, as shown in the image below.

augmentedreality (2)

The target/trigger image is the part of the real world that is used to trigger the overlay to appear. In the case of our image here, the painting is the trigger image. The overlay is the part that pops up on the phone or tablet and provides additional content. In the case of this slide, the overlay provides a brief video and other content regarding the painter of the painting. AR superimposes content over the real world.

Augmented reality is being used at museums to provide detailed information about materials and in manufacturing to train or provide detailed specifications. It allows potential buyers to scan an item and quickly see product reviews. In healthcare, AR is being used extensively. Videos of surgeries or other procedures have AR content superimposed to provide details for doctors in training. AR is also being used to provide in-depth anatomy training. Have you ever your blood drawn and the health care provider can’t find your vein? Well, an AR app superimposes images of veins over your actual body in a hand-held scanner.

In education, AR brings content to life for studentsthrough simulations and virtual field trips. In addition, students and teachers can create their own augmented reality educational tools through free apps like Aurasma. Some schools have been using AR so that students can create:

  • Book reviews – when students scan the cover of a book, they see the recorded book review from one of their colleagues.
  • Word walls – instead of just words on a wall, students create online materials that other students view when they look at the word targets; these online materials can help students deepen their understanding.
  • Yearbooks – imagine hovering over a picture of your best friend in the school yearbook and seeing a video recorded about their dreams for their future, students sharing stories about candid images, and the choir picture triggering a video of the choir singing.
  • Homework mini-lessons – another way to deepen learning with augmented reality is by teacher-created video mini-lessons that are triggered when a student scans their homework.

To create and view AR, check out the (free)Aurasma app on iPad and Android. For more examples and ideas of how to incorporate augmented reality into the classroom, check out the blog post below from Nesloney (2014) as well as the other resources.

Augmented Resources:

How to Incorporate Technology Trends in Your Own Classroom

Educators are bombarded with resources—one of the toughest parts of the job is finding which ones make a true difference in learning. The only way to discover if these trends will make a lasting impact on learning is by working with other teachers and coaches to try, review, and revise the newest trends.

If you have yet to use crowdsourcing, virtual reality, or augmented reality in your classroom, choose an idea from this blog and plan to integrate that idea into an upcoming lesson. Work with colleagues to discuss ways that the trend could foster learning for your students. Make sure that the use of the trend supports and ties directly to the objective of your lesson and augments what you may not have been able to do before.

If you have already been using any of these trends in your classroom or you try one out, share your experiences by commenting below or emailing me at We look forward to learning from your experiences!

1 Comment

  1. Dora Aviles July 13, 2015 Reply

    I appreciated this article Lara. The supported research for understanding Augmented Reality (AR) was very informative and substantial with infusing technology into my class lessons. I especially liked the tid-bit on Google Cardboard device and supporting apps. Virtual Field Trips is a very good learning tool that allows teachers to help motivate students with outside of the box thinking; as it brings world history, events, cultures, and traditions into the classroom. I look forward to the next article. Thank you.

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