10 Reasons You Should Be Pumped for Education in 2015

By AJ Juliani, 3 comments

The new year always brings new hope. Whereas in the past I’ve been hopeful for change and progress throughout education…this year I’m feeling different. This year I’m pumped about where we are headed in my school district and in the larger field of education. I’ve seen movement and progress from so many different people and places that it is almost impossible not to get excited. Here are 10 reasons I’m pumped for education in 2015 (and you should be too!):

1. More collaboration than ever before

I’ve seen collaboration explode in the K-12 education sector like never before during this past year. Part of this has been my own experience with “The Best and Next in Education” and ClassroomCribs.com — but I also see it in new educational apps and platforms like WriteAbout, the Summer Learning Series by Todd Nesloney, and the new line of Corwin books where so many educators co-wrote a book together. This level of collaboration is also at the classroom level. Teachers are using new tools to share and collaborate like never before. Expect this trend to continue in 2015 and beyond.

2. Better research and new studies

One of the best parts of putting together a digital magazine during the last year was checking out how much new research and studies were being done on education. Whether on how the brain works or the impact of technology in the classroom, new research is consistently being provided in an easy to understand format for teachers and leaders. Three sources I follow that keep me up-to-date are BrightBytes, EdSurge, and Educating Modern Learners newsletters.

3. Niche leaders

There is power in the niche. Thought leaders across education have done a fantastic job delving deep into specific niches. This helps in two ways. First, it allows teachers and leaders to go to a direct source for information. We know that this person or organization is focused on a niche…and that they have a wide background of knowledge and experience. For example, the work IDEO is doing with DesignThinkingforEducators.com got me caught up to a working understanding of design thinking in a couple of hours. After that their resources pointed me in the direction of Stanford’s D.School and Harvard’s Project Zero (which both are niche authorities in Design Thinking). Second, it allows larger organizations like Edutopia to link out to these niche leaders when they reference them in a video or article. I hope new niche leaders will rise up in 2015 for the benefit of all educators.

4. Technology with purpose

I’ve talked about this problem for years, but now I see a true tipping point. Technology used to drive educational conversations, but I see the pendulum swinging back to instructional conversations where technology is just a piece to the puzzle. The more we talk about technology as a tool for learning (and one that has extreme merit and value when used purposefully) the easier it will be to integrate it for the right reasons. With failing initiatives like the LA iPads, it’s easy to get down on technology in education…but when you see the work many schools around the world are doing to use technology for purpose, there is hope that this will continue in 2015.

5. An Eco-system built for risks

As more schools and teachers push the boundaries of our educational institutions and beliefs there has been a shift in the way we think about risks. In fact, many schools are adopting mantras that promote risk-taking and trying new things…whereas this was looked down upon when I first came into education as a teacher. In visiting other schools around the country and talking to teachers around the world, the important piece of this is support from institutions and stakeholders. There have always been outliers and will continue to be, but if a system is built on the understanding that to “move forward” you have to take risks, then it becomes an expectation instead of an outlier.

6.  New models that have had time to work

I really enjoy visiting other schools and seeing new models for teaching and learning. I also think it is extremely important for these schools to share what they are doing online and through social media. With that being said, I’m pumped that in 2015 when a teacher or school or district is looking for a different path there are so many opportunities to see new models (beyond technology integration). Whether it be an innovative PBL school in Kentucky, or competency-based district in New Hampshire, or Maker Department in PA (I’m biased on this one)…models are out there that have had time to work.

7. On demand PD

Remember waiting? There is now no excuse for waiting! My daughter can watch any of her favorite shows whenever she wants on the iPad (she doesn’t have to wait till saturday morning cartoons). She can read a book instantaneously from the ebook catalog in the public library website! As teachers and leaders we can also learn at anytime. Videos, blog posts, articles, and live conversations can happen at any time. This type of on demand learning is also on demand professional development. We don’t need to rely on programs and conferences for quality information anymore, it can be found online at anytime.

8. A season of global opportunities

Five years ago I was able to do the Flat Classroom Project with 80 of my students. It changed the way I thought about teaching and how my students can work and collaborate. Now the Flat Classroom Project is one of many types of global opportunities for teacher and students to connect. Live online events, projects like the Global Read Aloud, and sites like Quadblogging are setting the scene for unprecedented collaborations in 2015.

9. Push back from various stakeholders

I loved this post from Josh Stumpenhorst called “Pushing Back“, because it references all the different stakeholders in education and how each needs to push back. On some level, pushing back can cause distractions and more problems within a school and district. Yet, if we don’t have groups of passionate people pushing back then how can we truly start to disrupt positive change? My hope is that 2015 will have various groups pushing for a different education and what is best for our students.

10. Understanding Choice as Essential to learning

I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the 20% Time and Genius Hour movements over the past few years. It is remarkable how many teachers are now embracing student choice as a real way to improve engagement and spark curiosity in the classroom. The next book I’m releasing (titled Learning by Choice) is all about student-choice and the many different ways it impacts learning. If you’re interested, you can sign-up here to get the first chapter for free in early January.

Back in 2012 I wrote a post titled, My Wish List for Education. Many of those wishes have started to come true, but I also see how it takes time to make real progress. I’m looking forward to 2015 in my own role and my school district, but I’m also pumped to see what educators around the world are doing differently.

Let me know in the comments what you are pumped about for 2015!

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