by Mikhail Pavstyuk – upsplash.com

At the end of each year we look back in review. Sometimes our look back is a little nostalgic and other times we are surprised by what has transpired. But we always look forward to the next year in hopes of something better. 2015 was an incredible year for educators, educational technology, and moving our profession forward. Here’s a look at three things I learned in 2015 and three things I hope 2016 will bring to education.

3 things I learned in 2015:

  1. Google Apps for Education is a fluid, every changing learning environment for educators and students… I’m a huge supporter of what Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is doing to improve instruction and learning. But even as a supporter, I am impressed with how fluid this system is and how often Google is providing updates. All of this is very positive and bodes well for both Google and connected educators. Their commitment to improving and providing new resources to connected educators is exciting. However, as connected educators, we need to continually stay on top of these changes and incorporate them into our use of GAFE. 2015 was awesome for GAFE and connected educators who use it. I’m not going to project what 2016 can be, I’m just waiting for the next update!
  2. There’s an app for that… New apps and Chrome extensions come out daily. There are too many to stay on top of and use. However, during 2015 there were many times I needed an app or extension for some project, activity, or presentation I was working on. A simple search produced a new app to try. For me 2015 was an appealing year to find and learn new apps and extensions. If you are a connected educator you need to take time to find and try new apps and extensions. Then share them with your PLN and colleagues.
  3. The number of connected educators using educational technology and social media for their own learning and betterment is still small but growing… I value my PLN and what they have taught me over the years, but what has become obvious is that we, connected educators, are few in number compared to the total number of educators around the world. So many educators are still not connected or interested in connecting. However, I noticed in 2015 new faces and voices in my PLN. For the concepts of educational technology and social media use for educators to survive we need new ideas, new concepts, and new approaches, which means we need new educators to connect.

3 things I hope 2016 will bring to education:

  1. The end of an all or none mentality when it comes to educational change… For more than a decade we dealt with an all or none mentality in education. Policy change, program implementation, performance dictates have stunted creativity, individuality, and the uniqueness of individual learners and teachers. My hope is that 2016 will be the year that education begins to look at learning and teaching more on an individual, personalized level and less on serving the masses. There have been a number of positive steps heading in this direction, but I encourage all educators to continue to push for change that improves the learning of every student, and the instructional practices of individual teachers, not a one size fits all.
  2. More opportunities for educators to infuse educational technology into their instructional practices… The use of educational technology as an instructional practice is growing but some educators do not know where or how to begin. Educators need more opportunities to see and experience best practices in the infusion of educational technology in instructional practice. To do this, the role models in infusing educational technology (you know who you are) need to use the technology to reach out to those who need examples. Connected educators need to create the opportunities for all educators to see how to infuse educational technology into instructional practices.
  3. A commitment by local, state, and federal policy makers to incorporate the ideas, views, and expertise of practicing educators before change is proposed… If we truly expect education to evolve when it comes to educational technology and the betterment of our educational system then we need local, state, and federal policy makers to collaborate with educators to hear our ideas, listen to our views, and experience our expertise as practicing educators before change is proposed and enacted. Let’s look at 2016 as a more collaborative year for policy makers and educators. Effective and essential educational change will not happen unless all parties are at the table together.

As 2015 draws to a close we see tremendous change in our profession. This change is leading to unimaginable potential in 2016. However, this is only possible if connected educators continue to move educational technology forward, demonstrate its abilities, and set the example of how it can be used.

Happy New Year!