20 Things We'll Be Into This Decade 20 Things We'll Be Into This Decade

20 Things We'll Be Into This Decade

Erin Werra Erin Werra Edtech Thought Leader
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1. Phishing drills

One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to train staff and keep them on their toes. Send an email with one or more red flags and, of course, a bogus link. Staff members who avoid the snare get a gold star. Bonus: Set up a spear phishing drill, during which the email in question comes from a member of the leadership team, for extra practice. Spear phishing has been the foot in the door during many recent ransomware attacks in schools.


2. STEM for fun & profit

It’s no secret: STEM skills pay off for students as they grow and pursue a bright new career. Introduce students to a love of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as early as possible (kindergarten coding, anyone?). This could be a makerspace in a library-media center, a corner of a classroom, or ten minutes of free choice building with LEGO. The possibilities are endless and the early exposure to STEM skills is priceless.


3. Data standards

In an age of interoperability, ensuring data is entered and stored using a common language saves time, effort, and headache for anyone who uses an SIS daily. Data standards, including Ed-Fi, give schools a way to ensure their data is transferrable and readable.

4. Data hygiene

Speaking of ensuring data is readable, it's worth the time and effort to periodically assess the quality of data entered into an SIS or ERP. These records make such a difference in students' lives and the financial interests of a school—it’s worth the extra effort to ensure they’re as uniform as possible. As information systems continue to evolve, making positive changes to new systems will only be easier with a clean database.


5. Mental wellness

Mental health makes headlines but remains a murky problem for students and staff of all ages. Schools are in the unique position of serving as a refuge for students, and often serve as the first line of defense or a referral to a health care professional. Schools can effect positive change—and even save lives—by investing effort into a mental health strategy.


6. Creative scheduling

The lines of the workplace continue to blur thanks to tech access—why not extend the borders of the classroom? Creative use of space and time in schools boosts precious instructional time and expands opportunities for students. It may just be time to completely dismantle the traditional school schedule.

7. Mindful automation

Is automation coming for our teachers? Not likely. The human relationships forged in a classroom are irreplaceable. However, educators can use automation to their benefit. Using technology to automate administrative tasks results in a better experience for staff. A high-performing culture is enriched by mindful automation.


8. The influence of nature

STEM isn’t limited to shiny metal objects. Natural science is all around us, and studying it provides an invaluable experience for students to explore their world outside the confines of a digital or classroom space.  Even in the heart of the city, students can benefit from growing their own food in their own (figurative) backyard.


9. Recess!!

It's a precious chance to enjoy a breath of fresh air, stretch the legs, and partake in the important work of play.


10. Virtual reality

Another opportunity to extend the wall of the classroom exists in the digital realm. Augmented and virtual reality open the door to hands-on learning experiences which are otherwise prohibited, whether by cost, geography, or impracticality. 

11. Hands-on vocational experience

As students explore a path to vocational training and careers, explore opportunities for local business partnerships. This presents an excellent opportunity to reach out to the community at large. See how one school district set up a student apprenticeship program.


12. Gender-neutral language

Tired: He or she
Wired: The singular they.
Pop culture formats aside, the singular they is here to stay. Students and staff will breathe a sigh of relief when their humanity is accepted, rather than challenged. Even data entry formats are catching on to this break in the binary.


13. Social PLCs

Always searching for a new community to grow within and practice professional learning? Move your search online. Twitter in particular offers a thriving population of educators networking, supporting, and sharing tips and experiences with each other. Explore your relevant hashtags (SBOs, check out #EdFinChat) and learn something new in under 280 characters.

New to Twitter? Never fear. Here’s a set of video tutorials to get you started.


14. EdTech Big Bang 

The edtech ecosystem is rapidly expanding. Interoperability, data standards, privacy, and much more provide regular challenges to chief technology officers in schools. Over the next decade, CTOs are prepared to form a brand-new way of providing support and building networks throughout districts. As tech challenges evolve, so will information systems, security, and networking. CTOs will build a department more flexible, more knowledgeable, and more collaborative than ever before to serve as the first line of defense in schools’ digital space.


15. BYOD (oh dear)

A special challenge to a secure network comes from new devices joining the ranks. Tech departments are paying particular attention to vetting devices joining the school’s network. All it takes is one piece of malware slipping into a network to cause hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage and a scary security breach. This conundrum will cause headaches well into the beginning of the decade.


16. Build understanding in the business office

Do the heroes behind school budgets get the recognition they deserve? Beef up the community’s understanding of budgets, school funding, and the business office’s important role in student achievement.

17. Maximum learning with minimum guidance

Approaches like project-based learning give students the freedom to chase their passions while still learning skills required to succeed in college and career. How can districts possibly bring customized learning to a large population of students? See firsthand how Central York School District in Pennsylvania made customized learning happen at scale.


18. Customized professional development

Teacher PD shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all, either. Digital badging programs allow teachers freedom to choose while still providing a way to measure engagement and progress. Mentorship provides opportunities to keep top teachers in the classroom while investing in their leadership potential. Investing in teacher PD makes sense, when the results are measurable and the methods are flexible.


19. Comprehensive intervention

No longer limited to poor grades and student retention, intervention expands to include all facets of the whole child. Red flags including poor behavior, chronic absenteeism, and other clues outside of instructional struggle add up to show us students’ cries for help. Consider the impact of attendance nudge letters and positive attendance strategies.


20. User experience in districts

From student-designed classrooms to committee feedback sessions, user experience (UX) has taken the leadership world by storm. School culture can always benefit from leaders learning more about what their community experiences, and their feedback and perspective can be eye-opening. The first step is just to ask.


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Erin Werra Erin Werra Edtech Thought Leader
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