The IDT Issues and Trends to Watch for in 2016

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning means many things, from using teaching and learning strategies that are accessible to all (e.g., Universal Design for Learning) to mastery learning to competency-based education to cognitive apprenticeships. Adaptive technology already exists to make it happen, so maybe this is the year for personalized learning. I hope so.

3D Technologies

3D technology is not limited to 3D printing (which continues to get cheaper). 3D pens are a fun alternative that have the added bonus of supporting fine motor development in children. But I think the 3D technology to really watch for in 2016 is the 3D projector in the classroom, creating the potential for a powerful, immersive learning experience.



Co-teaching takes collaboration to the next level. While models of co-teaching are a standard of practice in special education, librarians can easily adapt those approaches to information literacy and related instruction.

Transmedia Education

Transmedia storytelling has crept silently into the world of education, and Scholastic has been one of the leaders in this trend, especially in the form of popular franchises like 39 Clues and Skeleton Creek. Educators can further harness the power of transmedia by tying multiple media platforms together (e.g., social media, digital games, learning management systems, books) to deliver a lesson; or by integrating transmedia stories into the classroom or library.

Connected Learning

Connected learning is not anywhere near being the norm yet, but it’s where we need to go to truly foster 21st century learning. Connected learning means a connected curriculum. Think engineering in the language arts classroom or literacy in the mathematics classroom. Connected learning also means making connections between informal and formal learning. The library is the perfect (third) space for this, and while many libraries already connect the informal and formal with learning programs, intentional planning with intentional partnerships between libraries and school districts is necessary for connected learning to really take off.

Credit: Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub

Librarians are the Key to Personalized Literacy

Montreal Children's Library Logo Cropped CC BY 3.0

Montreal Children’s Library Logo CC BY 3.0

Yesterday, a SmartBlog on Education post caught my eye. It was titled Personalized literacy: Insights from champions in the field, and discussed personalized literacy as a function of personalized learning, which has been a growing trend in education for some time now. The gist of personalized literacy is one that all librarians are familiar with — the materials that students read should not only challenge them at the appropriate level, but also suit their personal interests and tastes. The piece ended by citing technology as a solution for expanding opportunities to embrace personalized literacy and create “a national community of readers and lifelong learners.”

Here’s my solution for expanding opportunities to embrace personalized literacy and create “a national community of readers and lifelong learners”: Hire more librarians!

Now, I’m all about harnessing the wondrous powers of technology to motivate, engage and foster new learning interests in students. But, anyone who cites technology as a solution for learning fails to understand what educational technology is all about. Educational technology in and of itself does not solve anything. It’s how students use the technology to improve learning and literacy that makes the difference. It’s how teachers integrate the technology into teaching that makes the difference. And the most important part of educational technology is knowing when NOT to use it!

Does technology really have the fantastical ability to inspire a love of reading in students everywhere? No. While it may expand access to reading materials, and it may offer algorithmic tools to measure reading levels and recommend titles, technology will never be the solution for personalized literacy. That’s a uniquely human thing. Personalized literacy is something that librarians have been practicing as long as modern libraries have existed. Librarians inspire readers, not just by suggesting new titles to read, but by talking enthusiastically with readers about books and reading. Teachers can inspire their students in the same way. But it goes far beyond that. Personalized literacy is about participating in a community of readers, a community that consists of family, friends, teachers, librarians, and more. Inspiration comes from the community. Technology can be a part of that too by expanding communities through social media networks.

Bottom line, personalized literacy is about inspiration through participation in a readership community. And if schools want to embrace personalized literacy, they don’t need to invest in expensive technology, they need to invest in their school library and librarians.