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5 Tech Trends that Could Supercharge Education in 2016

Science-fiction author William Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

The technologies of tomorrow are already being tested in select classrooms today, laying the seeds for the future of how students could learn. With 2016 fast approaching, technology analysts have been busy prognosticating the top technology trends. A few of these technologies have already made headway into education, and others are poised for mass distribution, with the promise of ground-shaking change in their wake.

We’ve reviewed a few of these trends through the lens of how they could affect classrooms in both K–12 and higher education.

Virtual Reality (VR) Adds New Dimension to Learning


VR is shaping up to be one of the largest technology turf wars of 2016. Several global companies have staked millions of dollars developing their brand of the technology, including Google, Samsung, HTC, Sony and the Facebook-backed Oculus. And in 2016 many of these iterations of the VR craze are set to go to market.

At ISTE 2015, representatives of Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR were on hand to demonstrate how the technology could change how students learn. VR even stole the show during journalist Soledad O’Brien’s keynote, in which she said the technology allows students to test the waters of different careers — educational experiences that could alter the trajectory of their studies and their lives. The immersive power of this technology has also caught the eye of Jon Phillips, managing director of strategy for worldwide education at Dell. Phillips tells EdTech that experiential learning can teach complex problems in a different way than traditional education methods of today.

“I think as we head into the next year, we’re going to see more grassroots approaches to bringing technologies like that into the classroom, allowing students to learn experientially,” says Phillips. Google is already on the case. Its Expeditions Pioneer program is bringing smartphone-powered Google Cardboard devices to classrooms across the country as a way to introduce students to VR technology. Google product manager Ben Schrom told EdTech that Expeditions is about a social VR experience, instead of one where each user is confined to his own virtual world.

3D Printing’s Audience on Track for Growth


3D printers have already broken through in education, helping students bring their ideas to life or put their hands on concepts that previously lived only in textbooks. But 2016 could prove to be a transformative year for the technology as the devices become more affordable and the barrier to entry continues to drop.

EdTech spoke with Jordan Brehove, MakerBot’s vice president of solutions, who explains that the power of 3D printing in education isn’t merely replicating ideas but creating new ones.

“There is an inflection point that people get when they start to print because people go out onto Thingiverse, a repository of 3D files, and they print and they print and they print, but there is a certain moment when they realize, ‘I don’t need something that exists, I want something that doesn’t yet exist.’ It’s just a complete paradigm shift,” he says.

The support is certainly there. A community of tinkerers, programmers and students are fostering makerspaces — local labs armed with 3D printers and fabrication tools  — across the country. Spaces like these are urging learners to develop new engineering skills that could become the bedrock for an industry that’s still being pioneered.

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Internet of Things Finds Its Place (IoT)

Internet of Things Line Icons Set Circle Shape

The number of connected technologies we use each day continues to multiply, and unlessMoore’s Law is disproved, they will continue to shrink, unlocking new uses for connectivity, changing how our lives are networked with technology. For a glimpse at the future, look no further than how companies are gearing up to invest in the IoT. International Data Corp. projects that IoT spending will leap from the $655.8 billion seen in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020, the same year that Gartner Inc. predicts 26 billion devices will be connected to the Internet.

Today, the IoT applications for education are still being explored, with some classroomsdabbling in gesture-based controls feeding data to Internet-connected devices. But the potential for the technology looms across a variety of applications, according to Andrés Cardenal, writing for The Motley Fool . The technology also got a mention in IT research and advisory firm Gartner’s list of 10 strategic technology trends of 2016, in its entry on “device mesh,” the big-picture view of how our devices interact, creating a new picture of our lives through the data these devices collect.

“In the postmobile world the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices,” according to Gartner Vice President David Cearley.

Wearables Court Mainstream Status


The current star of the Internet of Things concept, wearable technology, still has a lot to prove to educators. Analysts at New Media Consortium (NMC) predict it will be widespread in classrooms in about four years, but there are already examples of the technology making waves in education.

“Indeed, wearable technology has been pushing the boundaries of what students are able to create — even spurring wearable-themed school events and contests,” according to NMC’s 2015 report.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory hosted a wearable-themed workshop as an interactive way of introducing mechanical design and electrical engineering to high school girls, the NMC report states.

In 2015, UNICEF launched Kid Power, a fitness program that tracked the steps of about 10,000 students while they wore fitness bands. Participants accrued points for walking, which were then converted into monetary donations to purchase food packets for malnourished children.

“Wearables not only assist students, but also offer many benefits to educators. From pinging students’ GPS locations during a field trip to recording point-of-view lessons, teachers have more options to monitor and engage with students. And this engagement can also translate to communication between educators, giving them more options for collaboration,” according to the K-12 Tech Decisions blog.

Tech Gets Smarter, Becomes More Interactive


As engineers refine machine-learning techniques, the tasks that devices can perform are becoming more sophisticated; indeed, these gadgets are on the cusp of becoming true thinking machines. At the same time, this sophistication allows smaller devices to do extraordinary things. In the coming year, a few innovations are on the horizon that could change the traditional role of technology in education.

IBM’s cognitive-computing platform, Watson, has recently been used to revolutionize how higher education research is conducted. The results of AI-enhanced research methods can already be seen. In 2014, the company released the Watson Discovery Advisor, tailoring Watson’s unique abilities to aid researchers struggling to parse mountains of data.

Other analysts see robotics serving a more hands-on role in the classroom. Constance Smith of Frog, a design firm, says robotic toys are capable of changing how special-education students learn in the classroom.

“In the future, we’ll see a rise in robotic toys that serve counselors and playmates to children with various learning disabilities like Autism. Studies have shown that AI toys are extremely effective in getting withdrawn ASD kids in engaging in personal, playful interactions. Special Education departments will soon have whole classrooms of intelligent toys to play with,” Smith writes.

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The Top 5 Technology Penny Stocks for 2016

As it has for many years, the technology sector presents vast opportunities for investors in 2016, including penny stocks. The technology sector is one of the largest in the world. It provides a vital investment opportunity because of the regular flow of innovative products constantly being released. The sector also has an impact on nearly all other sectors of the world’s modern economy. Most industries rely on technology in some form to function, and more importantly to renovate and improve.

Four primary segments contain the majority of all technology companies. These main segments are networking, software, hardware and semiconductors. Because of the constant introduction of new products and services within each segment, there are a number of penny stock opportunities in the form of new, small companies. Investing in penny stocks allows investors to get in on the ground floor of new and developing companies at a bargain price. However, penny stocks can also present substantial risk, including a lack of liquidity and difficulty in obtaining accurate information for evaluating a company’s stock. The following are five of the most promising technology penny stocks investors may want to consider for 2016.

Quantum Corporation


The Quantum Corporation (NYSE: QTM) is a leader among data protection and storage companies. It provides a number of solutions for storing, sharing and preserving digital assets throughout their useful life cycle. Quantum serves more than 100,000 customers across a wide range of businesses. It was founded in 1980, and has continued to develop with the technological times, introducing tape storage products in 1994 and disk backup products in 2002. In 2011, the company introduced its newest line, offering protection products for cloud-stored company data.

Due to economic and marketplace challenges in the data-storage industry, Quantum has seen some price sliding since its peak price of $2.20 per share in April 2015. The stock price sits just below 80 cents per share as of January 2016, but expected upsides for the company indicate buyers have the opportunity for a bargain. Quantum’s ace in the hole is its scale-out business storage, a progressive data storage environment that facilitates equitable data growth. Revenue generated from this storage in the third quarter of 2015 shows more than 50% year-over-year growth and a history of a 50%-plus growth rate for the past four quarters. Projected growth in this segment of the company indicates powerful potential for further growth and presents investors with an excellent financial opportunity for profit.

Amkor Technology Inc.


Amkor Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: AMKR) is one of the largest independent manufacturers of semiconductor testing and bundling services. Customers outsource their semiconductor chips to Amkor to ensure they are fully prepared for use. Amkor was founded in 1968 and has grown to become a leading strategic partner in the manufacturing processes of several hundred semiconductor and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) companies in the electronics industry.

Following a price fall of approximately $1 per share, Amkor is trading at around $5.65 as of mid-January 2016. In the past, Amkor stock has repeatedly displayed a pattern of price declines followed by sharp uptrends. For example, a drop from approximately $11.00 per share in June 2014 down to $6.35 per share in January 2015 was followed by a push back up to $9.73 per share between January and March. Thus, Amkor’s depressed price may represent a good buying opportunity for investors looking to take advantage of a bullish rebound.

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Terra Tech Corporation


Traded over the counter (OTC), Terra Tech Corporation specializes, through its subsidiary GrowOp Technology Ltd., in designing and manufacturing horticultural equipment. U.S. growers are Terra Tech’s primary market. The company offers customers sustainable solutions to cultivate indoor agriculture by integrating hydroponic equipment with its own in-house technology.

On Jan. 12, 2016, Terra Tech announced a merger agreement through which the company will acquire all of the outstanding shares of retail medical cannabis dispensary Black Oak Gallery, DBA Blum Oakland. Terra Tech’s CEO, Derek Peterson, reports that current and potential investors should expect positive trends for the company in 2016 because the acquisition of Blum Oakland brings Terra Tech a fully integrated supply chain, a retail storefront serving more than 1,000 clients per day on average and more than 40,000 total registered patients. This, in turn, accounts for Blum’s trailing 12-month non-GAAP revenue, a figure that sits near $15 million. In addition, CEO Peterson states that Terra Tech is the only publicly traded company based in the United States that incorporates all aspects of the life cycle of cannabis production. Acquiring Blum not only augments Terra’s cash flow but allows the company to capitalize on legislation regulating the medical marijuana industry, thus cutting down on Terra’s competition and enlarging the total marketplace to which the company has access.

GT Advanced Technologies Inc.


Previously known as GT Solar International Inc., GT Advanced Technologies Inc. is a worldwide provider of diversified technology. The company produces progressive equipment and materials for consumers in the solar, electronics and LED industries around the world.

GT Advanced Technologies began 2014 at an apex, with a deal with Apple for phone and watch screens in the works. Stock shares soared from $8 to nearly $18. The company was not equipped to handle the load of work, however, and filed for Chapter 11 to prevent going out of business altogether. In the first week of January 2016, GT Advanced petitioned the courts for up to $5 million to pay for employee benefits that would keep skilled staff from leaving. While this chain of events seems to paint the company in a bad light, investors may want to take a chance. Stock shares are dirt cheap at just 9 cents per share. At that price, and with a price-to-book ratio of just 0.1, the risk of investing in GT in hopes of a turnaround is minimal. If the company can manage to resurrect its fortunes, it is seriously undervalued at the current stock price. Investors who get on board could realize a huge profit if GT can secure another deal with Apple or contracts with other electronics firms.

Superconductor Technologies Inc.


Superconductor Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SCON) manufactures and markets the SuperFilter, a combination of high-heat superconductors and cryogenic cooling technology that produces a superior filter widely used by service providers and OEMs in the wireless mobile telecommunication industry. Superconductor Technologies derives a major portion of its revenues from research contracts with the government. Value investors find its price-to-book value of 0.8 an attractive figure, especially when compared to the industry average that is nearly a full two points higher.

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The Top 7 Technology Trends Dominating 2016

I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled with the technology we have available to us. And as an online marketer, I can’t help but wonder what new marvelous developments are in the pipeline—and how those developments are going to affect my ability to connect with an audience.

In 2016, we’ve overseen a number of major technological developments and trends, all of which are having a significant bearing on our online marketing strategies (not to mention our everyday lives).

Here are seven of the most important:

1. Live streaming.


Live streaming technology, particularly via Twitch, Facebook Live, Periscope, and other similar apps, is developing at a faster rate thanks to a combination of factors that is making live streaming more popular among users; some of these factors include the practicality of mobile devices, better Internet connections, and a greater expectation to be “in the moment” in a social media context. As a result, live streaming technologies are coming to a more diverse range of platforms—including social media platforms—and are becoming more efficient, with fewer interruptions and greater accessibility.

2. Virtual and augmented reality.

picture of handsome man with futuristic glasses

It was supposed to be a big year for virtual reality (VR) with the emergence of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. To date, it’s seen modest popularity, but nothing that’s revolutionized the way we experience the world. On the other hand, augmented reality apps are starting to see breakout popularity, bringing millions of users together for a shared physical/digital hybrid experience. VR technology is still new, and there’s always a learning curve, but I believe we’re witnessing our first baby steps into an era with a much blurrier line between the physical and digital realms.

3. Automation, machine learning, and AI.


People have been anticipating the onset of artificial intelligence (AI) for decades, and though it’s been around in various forms for the past several years (and even beyond that), we’re now bearing witness to the advanced learning systems that may soon come to define our interactions with technology. Digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, which were mocked just a few years ago, now have a stunning ability to recognize and decipher human speech, and Google updates like RankBrain are now able to update themselves, learning from complex user inputs and making automated adjustments.

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4. The Internet-of-Things (IoT).


The Internet-of-Things is a phenomenon driven by the fact that so many everyday items—such as refrigerators and televisions—are now becoming capable of accessing the Internet, or even enjoying “smart” technology. Theoretically, groups of these appliances and devices could be linked together on a single network, resulting in a “smart home” that can be controlled independently by a single user on a single system. This technology could soon revolutionize the way we engage with our environments and interact with each other.

5. Big data and visualization.


To be fair, it’s been a few years since “big data” started becoming popular as a buzzword, so it can’t be counted as a trend exclusively in 2016. For the past few years, businesses have been upgrading their systems and investing more to collect greater quantities and quality of data on their customers. This data is useful—but only if it’s interpreted correctly, and only if those gathering it are asking the right questions. Enter the era of data visualization, where advanced software programs and analytics platforms are able to automatically gather and project big data in meaningful ways, helping users form accurate, actionable conclusions.

6. App streaming.


App streaming is one of the most interesting developments in the field of online search and mobile user experiences. Google has been pushing the visibility and functionality of apps in its search engine for the past few years, but its recent push to “streaming” apps in search results for users is an insightful indication of where things might develop from here. App streaming allows users to access content to apps they haven’t even downloaded yet, opening a potential door to the eventuality of apps replacing traditional websites as the central medium to gather new information.

7. Better in-app experiences.


The dominant apps of our era—like Google and Facebook—are fighting hard to keep their apps in the top ranks, and keep users in those applications for as long as possible. Social media apps are starting to venture into new territory, with better, more diverse messaging experiences, and new functionality that overrides the necessity to leave the app and pursue functionality elsewhere. Most users are finding these in-app provisions helpful, and they’re only going to grow more sophisticated from here.

With these seven trends already in place and shaping the world around us, I can only imagine what wonders are down the pipeline. As a savvy marketer, it’s on you to chart a course for how these technologies are going to affect your business, and proactively work to get ahead of your competition by incorporating them into your long-term plans. Of course, some technological trends are bound to fizzle while others continue for many years—but since it’s so hard to focus on the distant future, the short-term future is your best bet for setting goals.

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Top 10 Technology Trends for 2016

Think of your last 24 hours. Chances are you’ve had several moments of continuous connection with information, apps, services, devices and other people. This “digital mesh” surrounds the individual and new, continuous and ambient experiences will emerge to exploit it.

Our lives are becoming increasingly connected to our devices, other people and a variety of things. Smart machines get smarter, and a new IT reality must evolve with technology architectures and platforms to support the advancement of a digitally connected world.

This year’s top 10 strategic technology trends are grouped into these three complementary trends that are mutually reinforcing with amplified disruptive characteristics.

Trend No. 1: The Device Mesh


The device mesh moves beyond the traditional desktop computer and mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) to encompass the full range of endpoints with which humans might interact. As the device mesh evolves, Gartner expects connection models to expand and greater cooperative interaction between devices to emerge. We will see significant development in wearables and augmented reality, especially in virtual reality.

Trend No. 2: Ambient User Experience


All of our digital interactions can become synchronized into a continuous and ambient digital experience that preserves our experience across traditional boundaries of devices, time and space. The experience blends physical, virtual and electronic environments, and uses real-time contextual information as the ambient environment changes or as the user moves from one place to another.

Trend No. 3: 3D-Printing Materials


We’ll see continued advances in 3D printing with a wide range of materials, including advanced nickel alloys, carbon fiber, glass, conductive ink, electronics, pharmaceuticals and biological materials for practical applications expanding into aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and the military.

Recent advances make it possible to mix multiple materials together with traditional 3D printing in one build. This could be useful for field operations or repairs when a specific tool is required and printed on demand. Biological 3D printing — such as the printing of skin and organs — is progressing from theory to reality; however, politicians and the public don’t have a full understanding of the implications.

Smart Machines

Trend No. 4: Information of Everything


Everything surrounding us in the digital mesh is producing, using and communicating with virtually unmeasurable amounts of information. Organizations must learn how to identify what information provides strategic value, how to access data from different sources, and explore how algorithms leverage Information of Everything to fuel new business designs.

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Trend No. 5: Advanced Machine Learning


Advanced machine learning is what makes smart machines appear “intelligent” by enabling them to both understand concepts in the environment, and also to learn. Through machine learning a smart machine can change its future behavior. This area is evolving quickly, and organizations must assess how they can apply these technologies to gain competitive advantage.

Trend No. 6: Autonomous Agents and Things


Advanced machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations — including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors — that act in an autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) manner. This feeds into the ambient user experience in which an autonomous agent becomes the main user interface. Instead of interacting with menus, forms and buttons on a smartphone, the user speaks to an app, which is really an intelligent agent.

The New IT Reality

Trend No. 7: Adaptive Security Architecture


The complexities of digital business and the algorithmic economy, combined with an emerging “hacker industry,” significantly increase the threat surface for an organization. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks.

Trend No. 8: Advanced System Architecture


The digital mesh and smart machines require intense computing architecture demands to make them viable for organizations. They’ll get this added boost from ultra-efficient-neuromorphic architectures. Systems built on graphics processing units (GPUs) and field-programmable gate-arrays (FPGAs) will function more like human brains that are particularly suited to be applied to deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms that smart machines use. FPGA-based architecture will allow distribution with less power into the tiniest Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints, such as homes, cars, wristwatches and even human beings.

Trend No. 9: Mesh App and Service Architecture


The mesh app and service architecture are what enable delivery of apps and services to the flexible and dynamic environment of the digital mesh. This architecture will serve users’ requirements as they vary over time. It brings together the many information sources, devices, apps, services and microservices into a flexible architecture in which apps extend across multiple endpoint devices and can coordinate with one another to produce a continuous digital experience

Trend No. 10: Internet of Things Architecture and Platforms


IoT platforms exist behind the mesh app and service architecture. The technologies and standards in the IoT platform form a base set of capabilities for communicating, controlling, managing and securing endpoints in the IoT. The platforms aggregate data from endpoints behind the scenes from an architectural and a technology standpoint to make the IoT a reality.

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5 Top Tech Unveiling You Don’t Want to Miss in 2016

Some of the most exciting tech events of the year revolve around unveiling new tech to the masses. In 2016, there’s set to be some major unveilings.

Some of them have already happened and playing out before the eyes of the world. Others are rumored and may still yet be postponed until 2017.

In this guide, you are going to see a rundown of the most exciting tech events in 2016 that have or will reveal some of the most anticipated products in the world today.

Oculus Rift


Virtual reality technology has made major headlines in recent times. Facebook’s Oculus Rift is an entertainment helmet. Place it on your head and you will be transported to a virtual reality, where you can enjoy perfect recreations of things like water parks, earning karate belts in virtual combat, and some of the biggest video game titles in the industry.

Mark Zuckerberg bought the original Oculus Rift company for $2 billion in 2014, and this is the product that has come out of it. This new tech sets the stage for a new generation of virtual reality technology that will change every niche within the world of tech.

People who have tested the prototype have said great things about it.

The Possibility of a Small iPhone


Every fall sees a brand new iPhone hit the market. Although the iPhone 7 will be the talk of this year’s landscape in smartphone, Apple may well launch another iPhone. The reason this rumor has come about is due to the presence of the Apple iPhone 6C.

Only speculators have confirmed the existence of such a phone. It’s supposedly going to be a budget version of the iPhone and will be unveiled as part of a jam-packed tech event. This mini iPhone would include a screen that’s just four inches in size and an A9 processor that’s already in the iPhone 6S.

Some features wouldn’t be available, though. This new iPhone Mini could be released as part of an impromptu tech event called by Apple. With Apple Watch set to run over half of the wearable tech market by 2017, miniaturized versions of their most popular products should come as no surprise.

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Google Project Ara


Technology has come a long way in recent times. Now imagine what could happen if Google Project Ara becomes a reality in 2016. One of the most anticipated tech events of 2016 is the introduction of Google Project Ara.

This is a project that will allow you to snap on items to your phone as if they were Lego toys. Supposedly, you will be able to customize your devices in any way you see fit. You could add a better camera, more memory, and special sensors to allow you to carry out specific tasks.

One example of a sensor you could add is a water tester. You would attach it to your phone, place the sensor in the water source, and then it would tell you if the water was clean to drink or not. This is something that Google has been working on for some time.

It was also one of the most anticipated events of 2015, but delays meant that it was pushed back to this year. This event can’t be postponed again, can it?

Starship Technologies and Their Delivery Robot


Amazon’s delivery drones are often held up as the beacon for deliveries in the next generation. But it appears as if the co-founders of Skype have managed to beat Amazon to the punch with their new delivery robots. These are based on the ground and designed to deliver packages right to your door.

They are six-wheeled electric vehicles that can carry up to two grocery bags of stuff. For now, they can only deliver within a three-mile radius.

People are already awaiting the launch event where Starship Technologies will detail how they are going to pilot the services in both the U.S. and the UK.

Microsoft HoloLens


Virtual reality may be a thing, but augmented reality is another thing. The HoloLens glasses produced by Microsoft were already unveiled as part of a teaser event. It got everyone in the tech world talking. Using holographic technology and Windows 10 software, these glasses lay images over the user’s vision using these glasses.

A user can look at a concrete wall and see digital images dancing across it. Users could conceivable view photos or videos of anything from Breaking Bad to the Asian World of Martial Arts. It’s a part of science fiction that has been eagerly anticipated for some time.