2016 Back-to-School tech trends
School is about preparing for the future. But in some ways, the future is here. And it can be used to help enhance the learning process for tomorrow’s leaders.
While it may seem tough to accept the summer is drawing to an end, it’s easier to find enthusiasm for the new school year when you see the exciting technological advances that await the 2016-17 school year.
Here are some of the biggest, most thrilling 2016 back-to-school tech trends and gear — and how your kid (or you) can use them for your educational advantage. Whether you’re a teacher looking for a competitive edge or a new way to reach more students, or you’re a student’s parent preparing for the new year, here’s what you can look forward to.
1. Accessible 3D printers:
These aren’t new, per se, but their prevalence is growing at an astonishing rate, and that means the prices are expected to drop, too. You can now find 3D printers in many towns and in some schools. They’re a centerpiece for new craft and maker clubs. And you can have one, too — for not that much money.
While you can definitely find many high-quality 3D printers for thousands of dollars, the XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0 is designed for consumers. It’s easy to use and less than $350.
How to choose which printer you want depends on what you want to do with it, how big you want to print, what kind of things you want to print with and other details. In education, students can let their creativity soar and develop engineering skills.
3D printers we love (use links to get Cash Back):
A laptop is a given these days, but savvy younger students are trading up for Chromebooks, which are lightweight and run on the Google operating system. They’re super easy to use.
The fast Lenovo Ideapad Chromebook features HD display and is built to work on the Cloud. It’s fast — and surprisingly inexpensive.
Chromebooks we love (use links to get Cash Back):
3. Virtual Reality.
While this may seem a little too futuristic to comprehend, the truth is, a VR educational world is right around the corner. While you probably won’t see it in every classroom this school year, imagine the possibilities of learning about historical events and feeling like you’re right there, or getting the chance to “try out” a new career before you commit to a degree in college.
4. Wearable technology.
This continues to be huge for students, from fitness bands that count your steps, to watches with a GPS that help keep track of students. Some schools run step contests, based around fitness bands. Others incorporate them into their physical education programs.
The Fitbit Blaze is a one of the most popular fitness bands for 2016. Connect it with the GPS on your phone and see your progress on more detailed display. Or sync it with your computer back home.
The watch measures steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and stairs climbed. It’s also sweat and water resistant.
Wearable Tech we love (use links to get Cash Back):
Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, $184.99, Bestbuy.com
5. Lightweight tablets for kids.
Instead of getting younger kids full-sized laptops, many parents get them lightweight tablets specially designed for kids.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite Kids 7-inch tablet weighs 0.68 pounds, so it won’t weigh down your kid’s backpack. The Kindle Fire HD is another popular choice.
Kids tablets we love (use links to get Cash Back):
Again, eBooks aren’t new, but their acceptance continues to grow. You can now find many educational books in eBook form to download onto your kid’s tablet. Although there’s value in the tactile experience of books, learning to read digitally has its own benefits, too.
Kids can change the font size and style (and sometimes even color, if that motivates them) and you can download apps to help them sound out words they don’t know.
7. Amazon Student.
College students looking for school supplies, books and even entertainment can get half price off their Amazon Prime membership. This includes free two-day shipping, which can save money, and also access to thousands of TV shows and movies. Students also get access to unlimited photo storage.
Amazon is currently running a special where US college students can try it for free for the first six months.