The Twelve Days of Ed-Tech: Reflecting Back on This Year!

on December 22, 2016

As the days become colder and thoughts turn to the coming new year; we can't help but reflect back on 2016 and all the things that happened in the world of educational technology for K-12 schools. Our list is comprised of twelve of the most memorable, newsworthy, or otherwise interesting stories for your enjoyment.


1 The U.S. Department of Education continued its fight against religious discrimination and shared a series of actions requiring schools to report any incidents of religious-based bullying to The Department's Office for Civil Rights. The announcement marked the first time that public schools would be required to report such incidents.

2 China made some serious moves to shift from a manufacturing economy to a service-based economy by investing roughly $1.07 billion USD into funding Chinese ed-tech companies and deals. The Chinese government also announced its plans to invest over $30 billion into ed-tech startups by the year 2020. In addition to monetary funding, the government developed Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for K-12 education and training plans for the millions of teachers needed. Several Chinese universities were included on the list of Top 100 global schools for the first time, proving this program to be successful.

3 Congress passed another rewrite of 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act in the form of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which requires that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and their future careers. The ESSA will take full effect during the 2017-2018 school year.

4 Future Ready is changing the conversation by focusing on personalized learning for students. By using tried and true data based on research and a systematic approach to carrying out the program in schools across America, Future Ready is implementing digital learning strategies that are changing the game and putting student success first.

5 Australia's education ministers endorsed coding and programming to replace geography and history as part of the country's new digital technologies curriculum. In this new curriculum, students will learn how to code by year 5 and how to program by year 7 as part of the country's commitment to improving literacy in science, technology, math, and engineering.

6 Speaking of coding, a surge in coding and techie playthings took over shelves at toy stores everywhere, boasting the on-trend item for tyke’s holiday gifts this year. Fisher Price takes the cake with their Code-A-Pillar geared towards three to five year olds. With eight sections that can be rearranged into any pattern the heart desires, tots can “code” their caterpillar to do move around, light up, and get them engaged with fun sounds too!

7 The implementation of wearable technology in schools was identified as an up and coming advancement by the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. The report named wearable technology as a “future influential piece of education technology,” and its use has already had positive impacts in the lives of students with special needs.

8 Dr. Monica Burns was named one of the “10 Most Influential People in EdTech in 2016.” Burns created the site, Class Tech Tips after spending most of her teaching career advocating for technology immersion in the classroom for all students. An Apple Distinguished Educator and Curriculum and Educational Technology Consultant, Burns travels across the country and helps schools with technology integration.

9 A report published by Science Daily found that 19 states still allow hitting, spanking, and paddling with a wooden board as an acceptable form of discipline, while 31 states have made corporal punishment illegal. Two schools in Baltimore took an entirely different approach and replaced traditional discipline methods with breathing exercises and meditation — conducted under the supervision of a trained staff member. The Mindful Moment program resulted in fewer behavioral issues, decreased suspension rates, and increased daily attendance.

10 The 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results were released with Singapore ranking first in every category and the United States coming in at 25th. The 2015 PISA tested 500,000  fifteen year olds from 72 different countries. It's given every 3 years and serves as a benchmark of education systems.

11 Makerspaces took K-12 education by storm and had educators turning every space possible into a makerspace. According to Dale Dougherty, an advocate of the maker movement, successful makerspaces promote experiential learning and offer materials for students to create rather than consume. Maker education is an excellent complement to STEM education, and makes incorporating critical thinking and tinkering into classrooms easier than ever.

12 Rounding out some pretty memorable and incredible educational technology moments in 2016, OnCourse Systems launched its powerful, school district dashboard: OnCourse Analytics. The program removes the headache of crunching complex data that most school districts face and provides clear, actionable insights on operational necessities. Rather than one-dimensional spreadsheets, OnCourse Analytics takes all of your school-wide information and presents it in interactive, elegant, and easy to use graphs all neatly bundled in one place.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our roundup of ed-tech news and events, and if there’s a story or ed-tech innovation from 2016 that you think we missed, share it with us in the comments.