The K-12 learning environment has had a big year of change with regard to the incorporation of emerging technology (think: augmented reality and virtual reality). We also expect to see a fascinating year ahead, with education institutions putting more basic solutions in place as the necessary building blocks for greater technological innovations. I’ve recently reviewed eSchool Media’s Annual Trends Report: 25 Trends for 2018 and am thrilled to see that expert educational opinions about trends across the nation mirror what we, at Konica Minolta see in terms of technology integration taking place in education this year.
In an effort to predict areas with greatest movement in the year ahead, here are the Top Ten that I see breaking through:
1. Security is TOP of Mind
Given the onslaught of threats and attacks that now unfortunately seem commonplace on school grounds, school districts and administrations are establishing safety checks and protocols at unprecedented rates. Products like the Konica Minolta Mobotix security cameras and intelligent surveillance, visitor management and check in with background checking can be top of the list for shoring up school entry processes and property perimeters.
2. Educational Technology Solutions Take Off
In the education industry, expect to see that purchasing education technology solutions might be easier done, if first purchased as curriculum and creativity suggestions to advance learning, rather than physical edtech products. This move will help them break through budgetary restrictions and the red-tape that makes these purchasing decisions difficult. Our All Covered IT Services can certainly support this shift within the K-12 vertical and help them access the education tools they need.
3. New Opportunities to Engage in 21st Century Skills
It is simply amazing to see this happening, but 21st Century skills like programming and writing coding are breaking-through as curriculum mandates in this generation. In addition, teachers are being offered new ways to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning in familiar, fun and graphic ways that will keep their attention. Two products in our creative suite are right on board – Konica Minolta’s Dremel 3D Printers and MyStemKits Curriculum – are truly bringing the 21st century to life.
4. Augmented Reality (AR) Inspires Struggling Learners
Expect to see growth in the applicability of tech-based instructional tools for use within English Language Learner (ELL) planning. Trends Report contributors showcase that tech-based instructional tools make for a fun way to help close the achievement gaps seen both with ELL learners, as well as others who might struggle to learn in the mainstream classrooms. Through our All Covered services, HP Sprout incorporates augmented reality, and with its integration of animation, graphics and imagery, is a helpful part of keeping students hands-on, interested and learning.
5. Equality for Students Who May Learn Differently
It is expected that we will see an even bigger push toward engaging each child with resources they need despite income or ability or limitations otherwise. Heath Morrison, president of the School Group at MHE, suggests that this trend toward advancing equity in education will include more fully incorporating social-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom and improving learning outcomes using adaptive learning technology.
6. Kids with New Opportunity
Two areas stand-out as major opportunities. First, IoT is growing now, faster than ever, as kids are learning to build, play and learn with technology, and create products that use the computer as an interface. Secondly, tremendous growth will be seen within those geographical areas that have been devastated by natural disasters. It certainly feels good to see positive things come to those who have endured hardships, and it is clear that schools in these areas have a unique opportunity to rebuild everything from the bottom-up and carve a new path for their districts.
7. Growth in Competency-Based Education
This trend showcases an expansion in the role that competency-based education (CBE) can play in K-12. Until now, CBE has been rather focused on “coursework requirements to improve class completion and graduation rates,” reports Terry Boyle, D2L director of K-12 Product Management. He adds, “Now its role is expanding, as competency-based learning bursts the boundaries of the online and virtual learning spaces and moves directly into the classroom where it is becoming the foundation of, as opposed to a supplement to, broader learning.” He also implies that this will drive the use of micro-credentialing, which can offer each student a sign-in with secure student identification, back-end data capture, and track direct learning data for each individual student.
8. Investment in Digital Publisher Content to Grow
In eSchool Media’s latest Global State of Digital Learning survey, we learn that the number two priority for teachers is digitizing curriculum. They report though, that limited time to digitize their own content is lacking. Trends Report contributor, Kellie Ady, director of Instructional Strategy for Schoology, suggests the year ahead will see far greater investments in publisher content (especially as LMSs increase partnership integrations), and increased use of OERs (CK-12, MERLOT, etc.), with reliance on traditional hard copy and physical resources fading-out.
9. Software as a Service (SaaS) Has Quadrupled in Ten Years
Growth in this category is remarkable and spells out opportunity for Konica Minolta and its subscription-based software and on-demand services intended for the early education vertical. Report trend-spotters see this growth in products intended for many areas but namely communications, operations, assessment, curriculum delivery, professional development, emergency messaging and learning portfolios.
10. Broad Scope Paperless Solutions for Greater Efficiency
This trend may present the greatest opportunity for Konica Minolta, and especially Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions and Prism Document Management as we are anticipating a change in document management expanding from using individual vendors to more district-wide enterprise solutions. K-12 schools will look to use electronic forms within the learning environment, family communication, approval processes as well as employee records, finances, etc. As with other verticals, streamlining and automating a more cost and energy efficient paperless system is becoming more the norm, and the expectation.
It will be a very interesting year ahead as the K-12 educational vertical is prime for technology expansion in all aspects of the learning environment. A strong emphasis for students is developing 21st Century skills, but in fact, the entire learning environment is also rising to the occasion, and Konica Minolta’s various products and services are beautifully designed to help them achieve that. The eSchool Media Trends Report editorial director predicts, “2018 promises to be a year that epitomizes the term ‘transformational.’” With company initiatives for 2018 coincidentally coining similar goals, this stands out to me as the perfect opportunity for Konica Minolta to shine.
 eSchool Media. (2018). eSchool Media’s Annual Trends Report: 25 Trends for 2018.
 Schoology. (2017). The Global State of Digital Learning in K-12 Education: An Educational Study Powered by 2,846 Education Professionals Across 89 Countries. Available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0By3FkbhxBAgdOE40NEducHhPS0U/view.