Education PR - Public Relations for Edtech

2011: A Year to Remember

By December 29, 2011 No Comments

Compiled by CB&A staff

At CB&A, we’ve been talking a lot about collaboration recently, not only in our own office environment, but also in the education community. We saw tons of innovation and advancement in 2011, but through it all, collaborative efforts seemed to reign supreme.

From everything we saw this year, here’s our take on the top seven trends of 2011:

1) Infographics

Infographics can change the way we learn, and the way we interpret the information put in front of us. In 2011, one education trend was the increasing use of infographics to relay important data to students. A well-designed infographic can highlight important conclusions and study findings in a clear and concise way. For example, a successful 2011 infographic developed by StudyBlue®, a mobile and online study service for students, demonstrates several benefits for students who use their mobile device for study sessions.

2) Anything Free

As schools and districts faced deep budget cuts in 2011, educators turned to free online resources, which proliferated this year. One example is the launch of PBS LearningMedia, a free nationwide service for teachers, parents and families. PBS, along with its member stations, debuted PBS LearningMedia in June to provide more than 14,000 high-quality digital learning resources drawn from public media producers, stations, and a growing list of contributors such as the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and NPR. (eSchool News’ top 10 stories of 2011 included this article on free resources: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/12/23/the-ten-most-popular-esn-stories-of-the-year/)

3) Mobile Learning

As smartphone and tablet use proliferated in 2011, education vendors and stakeholders discovered the appeal of “mobile.” And some CB&A clients led the way. Students who use the mobile and online study service StudyBlue are creating and studying flashcards on-the-go with the company’s Android and iPhone apps. A mobile app from eChalk makes it possible for students and parents to stay connected to school wherever they have cellular service. And the VizZle Player app gives children with autism access to visual supports and lessons through a tablet’s multi-touch display. 2011 might just be remembered as the year that sparked the fire of mobile technology in education.

4) Common Core

The Common Core standards took a giant step forward this year with the development of the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC), which is designed to help educators access the data, resources and tools needed to facilitate the more individualized approach to learning required by the new standards. It’s being developed thanks to funding from the Carnegie and Gates Foundations, and from a partnership of states coordinated through the Council of Chief State School Officers.  SIIA reports that SLC is expected to be in pilot mode by 2012, with New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Colorado to be the first implementers. Version 1 is expected to be complete by January 2013.  In a related move, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) was introduced this year with the goal of making it easier to publish and discover quality educational content and products online. This project, co-led by the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) and Creative Commons, may have a beneficial impact on both creators and users of educational content and products.

5) BYOD

“Bring your own device” programs moved from pilots in the last school year to larger-scale implementations this year, partially in response to reduced education funding.  This Google Trends chart helps to illustrate the bump in interest that roughly coincided with the start of the 2011 school season:


6) Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying (or, more positively, Cyber Safety) continued to be a hot topic on the education front. Unfortunate cases of cyberbullying turned deadly made the news, while state legislatures and education regulators sought to protect children and teens by outlawing online harassment, and requiring schools to educate teachers and students on the topic. Numerous organizations and child safety advocates strove to help students stay safe from cyberbullies and other online predators. One such advocate, national expert Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, offered online courses for educators through provider Knowledge Delivery Systems.

7) Money and Higher Education

With a few recent college grads in the office, the economics of higher education (especially student loans) has been top of mind for many of us in 2011. Higher ed budget woes have been trending all year, especially with President Obama’s plan to reduce the burden of paying back student loans, and the theory that rising college and university debt may be the next economic bubble to burst.

There you have it: a year in review, CB&A style. Be sure to check back next week for our predictions on what’s going to be hot in 2012.

What were your “trends to watch” in 2011?