In the next five years, schools will begin to redesign learning spaces to accommodate more immersive, hands-on activities, and begin to rethink how schools work in order to keep pace with the demands of the 21st century workforce and equip students with future-focused skills, according to The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition, published by the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking.

The report examines trends that will emerge in education technology over the next five years.

Long-term Trends: Driving Ed Tech Adoption in K-12 Education for Five or More Years

  • Redesigning Learning Spaces–As education shifts from a teacher-centric model to being more student-focused, classrooms will need to be adjusted. Rather than listening to lectures from teachers, students will becoming increasingly engaged in active learning through interactive lessons and collaborative exercises. The report explains that learning spaces of the future might include more flexible spaces, with movable walls and mobile furniture. Students will be able to move easily from small group discussions with a teacher to practicing coding on a computer or working with a group of classmates. There will also be an increased focus on environmental sustainability and social awareness, according to the report.
  • Rethinking How Schools Work–The report explains that there is a movement toward changing the current classroom paradigm and shifting the entire school experience. Methods such as project, competency, and challenge-based learning require that students be able to move from one learning activity to another more organically, removing the limitations of bell schedules.

Midterm Trend: Driving Ed Tech Adoption in K-12 Education for the Next Three to Five Years

  • Collaborative Learning–As with redesigning learning spaces, collaborative learning calls into question the teacher-centered learning model. The report explains that collaborative learning will shift knowledge diffusion from solely being teacher-to-student and will now have students learning from and with each other. “The approach involves activities that are generally focused around four principles: placing the learner at the center, emphasizing interaction, working in groups, and developing solutions to real problems,” the report says.
  • Deeper Learning Approaches–Rather than simply focusing on rote memorization, a deeper approach to learning asks students to engaging in critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and self-directed learning. The report highlights strategies including problem-based learning, collaborative group work, internships, and longer-term assessments such as portfolios or exhibitions, as ways to achieve deeper learning.

Short-term Trend: Driving Ed Tech Adoption in K-12 Education for the Next One to Two Years

  • Coding as Literacy–By 2020 there will be 1.4 million computing jobs, but only 400,000 computer science students to fill them, according to a recent project from With that statistic in mind, it’s no wonder that schools are emphasizing coding in younger grades. President Obama’s administration has also placed a heavy emphasis on coding in school, and especially targeting female and minority students. Obama’s Computer Science for All initiative aims to equip K-12 students with the computational thinking skills they will need to be active participants and creators in a digital world. According to the report, states will receive $4 billion in funding and school districts $100 million to expand training programs for teachers as well as access to high quality instructional materials.
  • Students as Creators–A shift is taking place in schools all over the world as learners are exploring subject matter through the act of creation rather than the consumption of content, the report claims. Rather than asking students to simply read a book or listen to a lecture, teachers are attempting to engage students by asking them to become the subject matter expert. As students become more accustomed to creating content in their free time–photos on Instagram, videos on Snapchat, etc.–teachers want to engage students on their level. Many educators believe that honing these kinds of creative skills in learners can lead to deeply engaging learning experiences in which students become the authorities on subjects through investigation, storytelling, and production, the report explains.

The report also highlights the challenges facing the education industry, as well as new technologies that will shake things up over the next five years.

Also from The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition:

Challenges on the Horizon for K-12 Education

Virtual Reality, Makerspaces, and Online Learning on the Horizon for Education

Read More About
No Category Set!
More Topics
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.