In 2022, we saw trends in schools integrating artificial intelligence, cloud technology permeating apps and data centers, smarter cybersecurity and more asynchronous learning. And while these technologies continue to impact the learning landscape, tech companies, IT leaders and forward-thinking schools are taking it a step further in 2023.
With a few years to process the massive implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on educational technology, schools continue pushing the boundaries in ed tech, adopting advancements in safety, mobility and immersive solutions.
Integrating new and progressive tools isn’t easy. Tech and curriculum leaders continue to seek the most meaningful ways to introduce technology without doing so just for the sake of technology advancement. The goal is to future proof technology tools, rather than reaching for the coolest new trend.
Here’s what to watch for in 2023.
Advanced Access Control Tech Improves Physical Security Measures
Student safety is always a priority for K–12 districts. With the help of technology, many schools are now taking steps to improve the ability to monitor who is in buildings and keep out unwanted visitors. Other access control technologies ensure students aren’t bringing dangerous or prohibited objects into school buildings.
For example, Lakewood School District in New Jersey is implementing artificial intelligence-based screening. After the pandemic, the district reduced the window for screening students from 45 minutes to 15, says Robert DeSimone, director of security at Lakewood Board of Education.
With the new access control technology, students pass through pillars when they enter the school without removing personal belongings. The new system boasts a higher detection rate than traditional metal detectors.
“With the false alarms caused by our previous metal detectors, we found we were only able to serve approximately 10 percent of our students in the 15-minute time frame, compared with 50 percent of students in the 45-minute time frame,” DeSimone says. “Now, we’ll be able to screen approximately 1,500 students in 40 minutes.”
Other advances include tech upgrades such as security cameras, with more funds allocated to improve security in Ohio and New Hampshire.
Schools Transform Communal Spaces into Tech-Centric Hubs
Progressive schools are moving toward tech-centric spaces that allow for mobility and collaboration and spaces that focus on increased access to technology.
STEM labs and esports arenas, along with broadcasting studios for creating original podcasts and video work, are gaining traction. For example, Steubenville City Schools in Ohio broke ground on a $12 million STEM building, and at Indiana’s Greensburg Junior High School, students will learn about design and robotics tools for manufacturing in a tech, engineering and math lab.
Chandler Unified School District in Arizona is developing its esports program by integrating virtual reality lessons into a space designated for devices and managed services for gaming systems.
CTO Colleen Flannery says the district is transforming spaces within its schools for esports. “Esports offers numerous benefits for students, including using, learning and strengthening technical skills and ‘soft skills’ such as communication, teamwork and decision-making,” she says.
The district decided to expand its esports program when students had “tremendous interest” in a game design class, Flannery says.
Experts helped with the implementation of infrastructure, the number of CPU units ordered, the network segmenting and training. The school bought gaming PCs so it would have technology compatible with games adopted by the state for competition. Chandler USD now has seven high schools participating in its esports program, each with teams of 40 to 100 students.
Untethered Tech Supports Flexible Learning Spaces
Gone are the days of classrooms with students sitting at desks in rows, facing forward. Now, the teacher moves about the room rather than lecturing from the front, and technology isn’t a single interactive display that all the students stare at while the teacher instructs. The untethered classroom — where students aren’t reliant on stationary technology — is expected to grow in popularity in 2023.
In Lakota Local School District outside Cincinnati, students can learn in a flexible space called the innovation lab.
Tiffany Rexhausen, innovation specialist at the district, says the mobile tech in this space eliminates barriers to student collaboration or alternative instructional practices such as station rotation. “Teachers seem very receptive to shifting the focus to a more student-centered approach,” she says.
Thanks to its flexibility, the district uses the innovation lab for a variety of tech-based projects.
“A social studies teacher used the space for students to work on group projects so they could spread out and utilize the tools in the room,” Rexhausen says. “Another teacher used the mobile green screens so that multiple students could record in different spaces in the building.”
As audiovisual technology in particular becomes increasingly mobile, teachers find more opportunities to make learning creative and engaging.
Virtual and Augmented Reality Immerse Learners in Subject Matter
Virtual and augmented reality technologies are becoming more prevalent in many schools around the country.
In one area of Lakota Local Schools’ innovation lab, students use Merge Cubes, a VR technology that allows students to interact in 3D with virtual objects such as parts of the human body, the solar system, the layers of the Earth and volcanoes.
Compton Unified School District in California and Colorado Springs School District 11 in Colorado also bring VR experiences to their students in new ways. They find it gets students excited about learning and prompts them to think creatively about problem-solving.
From next-generation tools that instill a passion for reading to science labs that give in-depth learning opportunities, VR and AR are becoming actual reality in communities that might not have imagined this wave of the future could be possible.
For example, in September 2022, online 3D and VR platform Inspirit announced its collaboration with Meta Immersive Learning to provide more than 100 Title I schools across the country with VR equipment and training.
K–12 IT leaders can expect to see these technologies continue to trend in schools through 2023 and beyond, becoming more popular and widely used by learners at all grade levels.