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You are here: Home > Online Articles > Technology Trends in Asian International Schools



Technology Trends in Asian International Schools

By Michael Boll


Technology Trends in Asian International Schools
As a technology coach at Concordia International School Shanghai, I enjoy helping educators, parents, and students harness the transformative powers of technology. Therefore, I was excited to contribute on behalf of Concordia to the 2014 Horizon Report on international schools in Asia.

Applying the process developed by the New Media Consortium Horizon Project, the report finds twelve emerging technologies recognized across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, as well as key trends and challenges expected to continue over the same period, providing international school leaders and practitioners with a valuable guide for strategic technology planning.

Bringing the Horizon Report to Asian International Schools

The Horizon Report teams are led through a contribution process via a group wiki where we review, add ideas, and comment on current trends noted by the Horizon Report editorial team. This is the heart of the process and by far the most interesting. Together, teams waded into the world of digital strategies, enabling technologies, consumer technologies, and their relationship to education.

Encouraged by Concordia’s then head of school, Dr. Jim Koerschen, I joined the report as a subject matter expert to see if I could bring a Horizon report specific to Asian international schools. The “I” quickly became a “we” as Ivan Beeckmans, the digital literacy coach at NIST International School in Bangkok, jumped on board, taking the lead for his school. Thanks to our combined efforts, we managed to pull in a total of eight international schools and four organizations to be part of the process and contribute the brains needed to make it all happen. The process concluded in the summer of 2014 and our forecasts and predictions were set forth.

Time to Adoption: One Year or Less (Cloud Computing, Gamification, Makerspaces, Mobile Apps)

In China we find cloud computing to be challenging. While there is access to local cloud servers in China, many of the cloud storage systems, such as Google, are blocked. This gives us an added challenge compared to other international schools in Asia.
Gamification is starting to emerge more in the classroom. Websites, iPads, and other connected devices frequently offer gaming as part of the learning process. Students greatly value the instant feedback these games provide them.

Makerspaces are becoming more and more common and schools are discussing redesigns to their existing structures to accommodate learning and design centers. Ironically this type of hands-on learning was commonplace in the past with auto-shop, woodshop, and other similar programs. It fell out of fashion, but is now returning with the emphasis on how tinkering and hands-on work contributes to great design.

Mobile apps are very common already and will likely continue to be so. There is a proliferation of mobile apps and, at this point, many of us find the choices overwhelming. In time, winners will emerge and the selection may narrow. However, the barrier to entry to create a mobile app is so low, innovative ideas will continue to bubble up.

Time to Adoption: Two to Three Years (3D Printing, Learning Analytics, MOOC, Personal Learning Environment)

Many schools have 3D printers, but they are often rudimentary in their uses. Simple designs such as characters and symbols are the norm. Software support is fantastic, but the more sophisticated printers are still expensive. This will surely change as prices come down and we find ourselves going from printing cute toys to printing more sophisticated items with moving parts.

Learning analytics and personal learning environments are exciting and promising opportunities. Teachers are limited in our ability to truly understand how well each of our students is doing in more than the broadest sense. A handful of services, such as those offered by Khan Academy, provide our students with an adaptive learning experience based on learning analytics. Other apps, such as Exit Ticket, allow us to capture student impressions and thoughts and display them on a dashboard interface where, over time, we can spot trends and patterns with how students engage with assignments and more.

Do you MOOC much? Many of us have heard of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course); at the outset it seemed as if they would take over education. That reality has not happened (yet?), and the MOOC narrative now talks of very low completion rates. However, with class sizes in the hundreds of thousands, MOOCs do fill a niche and even at an 8 percent average completion rate, that is still a very large number.

Time to Adoption: Four to Five Years (The Internet of Things, Virtual and Remote Labs, Virtual Reality, Wearable Technology)

Many people, not surprisingly, are not sure what the Internet of Things really means. It refers to items such as a thermostats, coffee makers, etc., that will have a connection to the Internet. From a remote location you can tell your heater to turn on and your coffee pot to start percolating. While I agree this will be a reality, I struggle with how it will be used in the classroom. I am confident, though, innovators will soon find wonderful uses for this technology.

A remote laboratory would be fantastic. Being able to join a doctor during a surgery or an archaeologist during a dig would bring unforeseen benefits to our students and how they relate to the material they are studying.

We have all likely heard of and thought of virtual reality. Star Trek fans think fondly of the Holodeck that allowed characters to visit any type of location and environment. The potential—taking our students on virtual field trips and viewing reenactments of historical events as if they were there—is exciting to imagine.

Wearable technology is already here and getting better. Smart watches are becoming more popular and the data we can pull from them is awe-inspiring. Already we can see uses for these in physical education, where they gather data about student heart rates. With wearable devices, instructors will access a dashboard in front of them loaded with data about students. Imagine the potential to adjust lessons to fit individual needs.

On October 2nd, our findings were released as part of the NMC’s 2014 Technology Outlook for International Schools in Asia at a special session of the Learning 2.0 Conference in Bangkok. The experience taught us a great deal about our current state of technology integration and afforded us immense insight into the future of technology at our respective schools. If your school is interested in becoming part of the next version of the Horizon Report for International Schools in Asia, contact me to express your interest.


Michael Boll ( is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Entrepreneur, Podcaster and Technology Coach at Concordia International School Shanghai.

For more information about Michael, check out his personal website

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