Predictions for 2013
Last year we predicted that 2012 was going to be the year of the teacher blog. Scoilnet blogs had been around for the best part of a couple of years and schools were beginning to see the restriction of having a static web site and the potential for feedback from viewers. Last year also saw teachers embracing social media with lots of schools using Twitter in the classroom and some schools opening Facebook accounts. However, the big story of 2012 was the iPad and I don’t think that I’m taking much of a pot shot when I say that 2013 is going to be the year of the tablet. I also think this year is going to herald the year of the breakdown, as many Interactive Whiteboards end their warranties and projector bulbs cease to be. Outside of hardware, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more government involvement in education through literacy, numeracy and cyber-bullying.
Let’s start with tablets. 2013 may mark the year where the beginnings of a three-way battle will commence between Apple, Google and Microsoft to win the hearts of schools as the tablet of choice. Apple have had an early lead in this with 2012 being a great success as many schools jumped aboard the iPad with its promise of brilliant apps. There are plenty of schools who will attest to how they have transformed learning in the classroom and there is a buzz about, which is similar to the one when the Interactive Whiteboard made its debut at the IPPN conference back in 2008. However, Apple have some serious competition and I believe that 2013 will decide which operating system will be the one used in schools. Microsoft almost have the monopoly on desktop and laptop computers and may argue (rightly) that their tablet is simply a natural choice. Google’s Android system will (rightly) point out its Open Source credentials and its free services for education. Whether either of them can infiltrate Apple’s dominance in the tablet education market will be very interesting. Obviously the best outcome will be that a student will be able to use ANY tablet to access the same information but I’m a bit sceptical of that happening, unfortunately.
From what I can see at second level, the key driver there was having all the textbooks on the iPad so students wouldn’t have to lug around heavy bags. This hasn’t been the case, so far, at primary level, and it’s likely that whoever designs good interactive apps that really support the Irish primary curriculum will win out. Right now, I don’t think any tablet can claim this yet. Furthermore, I don’t think this is the best measurement of the best tablet but often this is the case. For example, when Interactive Whiteboards were being judged, teachers’ favourites were based on the supporting software that came with the board rather than the quality of the board itself.
Speaking of which, most schools are now into their 5th or 6th year of Interactive Whiteboards in the classroom. When Anseo.net was writing about IWBs at their peak, there were over 25 different boards on the market with loads of companies selling them. Much like the housing market, the bubble has burst and very few IWB companies have bases in Ireland. This is going to be a bit of a problem for some schools as their projector bulbs are about to die, if they haven’t already. For any company thinking about registering for a stand at the upcoming IPPN exhibition, where you will have access to over 1,000 principals, if you’re selling projector bulbs, I’d get on the phone as soon as possible to book your place.
My final prediction isn’t really much of a preiction as it’s going to be a continuation or consolidation of the government’s plans to change our education system. We have already seen a number of massive changes in 2012. It all began with some average PISA results and Ruari Quinn began a one-man mission to improve schools’ literacy and numeracy levels. This has resulted in SSE (School Self-Evaluation.) In fairness, it’s a good plan but how it will be introduced to teachers in 2013 will be its making or breaking. If it is introduced in a haphazard way, there will be mistrust and it simply won’t work. The government will have to assure the profession that this isn’t just another CEPP or that SSE is not going to be used to make further cuts to education. Outside of literacy and numeracy, the government are going to have to highlight the wonderful work they have already done with regards to cyber-bullying. Web-wise has been around for many years and I can see the government pushing for it to be compulsory to teach in schools. Somehow, we will be expected to cram it into our already squeezed timetable. As we had no guidance from Ruari Quinn when we had to allocate more time to literacy and numeracy at the expense of other subjects, I can’t see him doing it this time either, even though we all know what he’d like us to cut!
2013 is going to be an interesting year and I’d expect a few more surprises to come down the line. Will the rise of CoderDojo infiltrate into schools? Will Ruari Quinn have a new brainchild? Will a government minister make some careless claims about how he’s going to fire underperforming teachers? Oh wait, didn’t Brendan Howlin do that already! Happy New Year to all from Anseo.net.