Year in Review: Hottest EdTech Trends of 2017

Game-based platform and educator surveys say, what’s hot and not, reflections on trends and learnings over past 12 months.

GUEST COLUMN | by Erik Harrell

CREDIT Kahoot 2017-06-EdTrendsReport-BlogImage.jpgAs 2017 is coming to a close, not only this is a great time to make exciting plans for the holiday break, but also to reflect on the trends and learnings of this year in education and tech.

To define this year’s main trends, we started by analyzing data from our own game-based learning platform (Kahoot!) This year, we surpassed 50 million monthly active users in more than 180 countries. With 2 million U.S. teachers and more than 40% of K-12 students playing every month, our platform has a wealth of data on classroom technology trends.

Summing up these trends, it’s obvious that 2017 has accelerated adoption of technology in classrooms and added a few new items to educators’ toolkit.

Additionally, we looked at results of educator surveys and interviewed some experts about the changes they observed this year. Here’s what we found out:

Math is the queen of search

Math and its subtopics have by far remained the most searched on our platform this year. It has been more popular than other big topics like English, music, history and languages.

Top education-related searches on our platform in 2017:

CREDIT Kahoot top10.png

This search trend doesn’t surprise Leslie Fisher, education tech expert, coach, and long-time user of our platform.

Here’s why she thinks math is the queen of search:

“Math tends to be the most challenging and dreaded subject for most students,” Fisher says. “Teachers are trying to figure out how to make math fun and [your platform] is one of many ways for them to get students to get excited about math.”

Another “hot hit” for educators and teachers is searching for themed quizzes around holidays that they can use in the classrooms, increasing student engagement.

Top searches that were trending in certain months are in line with big events happening around that time.

For example, Valentine’s Day in February or Easter in April.

Top themed searches on our platform in 2017:

February: Valentine’s Day

March: St. Patrick’s Day

April: Easter

May: Cinco de Mayo

June: Summer

August, September: Back to school

October: Halloween

November: Thanksgiving

December: Christmas  (searches are ramping up and we are predicting it to be similar to 2016)

Google continues to gain ground in U.S. classrooms

One of the trends we highlighted in our EdTrends Report published in June was the growing use of Google Chromebooks in classrooms.

At the end of this year, we looked at stats that cover 32 million U.S. users and found that the affordable and sturdy laptop from Google increased usage from 46% to 50% from 2016 to 2017 on our platform for U.S. users.

Google continues picking up speed in U.S. classrooms with both teachers and students. Meanwhile, on the mobile side, Apple continues its stronghold on smartphones and tablets: iOS is getting an impressive share of the usage on both those platforms with 71% on mobile and a whopping 95% on tablets in 2017.

CREDIT Kahoot which OS.png

BYOD approach is taking off

More and more teachers embrace technology as a way to make learning more effective and fun and equip students with 21st century skills.

However, it’s not all schools that are able to provide devices to all students. The practice of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the idea of allowing students to use their own technology in school, is taking off as a way to support academic instruction.

According to Leslie Fisher, who is a big believer in technology, BYOD is a win-win for both teachers and students:

“This year I am seeing a leniency and tolerance in classrooms for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), particularly of Chromebooks as they are durable and affordable and showing up with a touchscreen — an attractive proposition to both students and schools.”

Virtual Reality is real – in classrooms, too

Virtual Reality is not a buzzword – it’s more real than ever. The market for virtual reality is expected to reach $12.1 billion in 2018, according to Statista. In addition to entertainment, research and engineering, it’s making its way into classrooms, too.

As schools move more towards learning by seeing and doing, VR offers a variety of possibilities such as virtual field trips (as many districts grapple with budget cuts), exploring different parts of the world (geography) and time travel to key events and places (history).

Cost-effective solutions such as Google Cardboard can bring VR to the classroom without breaking the bank and as BYOD becomes popular in schools, the practical usage of Google Cardboard becomes more possible.

Video and social media on the rise  

Students, parents, teachers – most of them are on social networks for personal use.

So, it looks quite natural that social has also become a common communication tool for school-related topics.

For example, teachers share classroom videos with parents or post relevant info through special social media tools made for education. This also helps students, who are a bit more shy and aren’t always the first to speak out in class, to express their opinions via video or text.

Not only are students and teachers using popular social media and video platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat but also education-specific platforms that are safe and secure for students to use.

“The way people are telling their school stories with tools like Instagram and Snapchat, and turning students into creators with tools like Adobe Spark Video and Book Creator will push our conversation around content consumption and content creation,” says Monica Burns, a teacher and education consultant.

It’s a Wrap

Summing up these trends, it’s obvious that 2017 has accelerated adoption of technology in classrooms and added a few new items to educators’ toolkit.

In 2018, we expect educators to continue using digital platforms for teaching, learning and assessments as well as increased use of personalized learning, based on results of our survey.

At the same time, educators will have to continue tackling shortages in budget and resources to implement technology as well as the lack of training to understand and adopt new technology.

The final overarching challenge that now lies with teachers is to ensure students become good digital citizens in the class and outside and draw boundaries around their usage of technology.

These are some of the observations we made based on our research.

What trends have you observed in 2017?

What are your predictions for 2018?

Erik Harrell is CEO of Kahoot! a game-based learning platform with more than 50 million users. Prior to that, Erik held several C level roles for more than 10 years at Opera Software (COO, CFO, CSO) and VP roles at J.P. Morgan & Co. in New York. Erik is also an angel investor and has extensive experience as a board member of organizations such as the board of the Alliance Venture Spring Fund, a leading V.C. fund in Norway, with $100 million under management. He was also on the board of Opera Software’s joint venture in China. Erik has an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School and an MA and BA (Phi Beta Kappa) from The Johns Hopkins University. Originally from the U.S., Erik lives in Oslo, Norway, is a passionate tennis player, and is a father of three children. Connect through @GetKahoot


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