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When we look at education over the years, it’s amazing how the evolution of technology, availability of resources, and companies such as Apple and Google have drastically shaped the way we instruct and learn. This has ultimately revolutionized the way we view education in the 21st century.

The Evolution of Education

During the beginning of civilization in America, education was completely different from the way we view learning today. There was a time when homeschooling and the one-room schoolhouse was commonplace. While they provided young minds with reading, writing, and arithmetic, a young person’s mind was only as vast as their teachers and available resources.

However, as time passed, education evolved and families could choose how their children were taught. Public and private schools focused on providing subject and grade-specific classrooms, while a homeschooling atmosphere developed to provide a one-on-one, individualized education. From different educational reforms such as the “No Child Left Behind Act” to state and country-wide standardized testing, it became easy to assess how students were progressing.

Yet, as we developed technologically, our education shifted to match the needs of a new generation of learners. Whether growing up and learning how to search the Internet for information to being fully immersed in technology at infancy, education needed to match the multi-modal learner to reach the needs of our 21st century society.

This is how school districts and programs have adopted blended learning: a formal approach to education where students learn traditionally in a “classroom” setting, with the inclusion of some form of technology. Through many grants and the access to new technologies such as smart phones, interactive boards, laptops, and programs (BYOD: Bring Your Own Device), education is shifting once again.

With this drastic change and the help of major companies such as Apple and Google, families can benefit from an approach to learning that has completely revolutionized the way we view education.

The Future of Education

Today’s society is focused on convenience, availability, and inclusion. Having access to information at the touch of a student’s fingertips makes learning not only available to anyone, but it also has become an innovative way to interactively get involved in our learning process.

When budgeting for these tools, schools have shifted from chalkboards to interactive whiteboards and from paper to digital copies. Interactive tools such as Glogster, LiveBinder, Dropbox, and Prezi have made the need for paper obsolete, allowing students and educators to create and save their work online. Additionally, educators can discuss the importance of proper web-based research and plagiarism rules with access to readily available information. These tools suit audio, visual, and kinesthetic learners, making the learning experience less of a struggle for every student.

As an added bonus, educators can use devices to grant access to underprivileged students. Thus, technology is giving the future of education a way to meet the demands of today’s jobs. Students can also harness their roles as productive citizens in society.

Another factor that has shaped our education is that our language is constantly evolving. This is partially due to the number of online networking sites that have developed a new form of socialization. Instead of writing formally, students are communicating through text and shorthand. There are new nuances for words and how we properly approach a person or broach a topic.

Therefore, the future of education lies in adopting this new form of communication in order to provide knowledge and growth to students — creating a new process that forces students to become responsible for their own learning.

Incorporating Asynchronous Online Learning

Since the recent shift in education to blended learning, students of all ages and subject matter have been gain knowledge through asynchronous learning. With this practice, students learn to be responsible for their own education and become advocates for the information they acquire.

By using various online resources, students can digitally share the information they learn through online networking tools and platforms — bringing asynchronous online learning to its full potential. This practice highlights the importance of student-driven work and learning and focuses on peer interaction. Digital devices, such as Apple’s iPad and Google’s Chromebooks, have been excellent resources to see this method of learning to fruition.

With about $9 billion spent on overall instructional materials in 2014, there has been a dramatic shift in the percent of purchases for digital textbooks since 2010 at a small 1.5 percent. In 2014, 19.5 percent has been spent on digital access to online learning and it’s estimated that in 2016, there will be over 35 percent. This shows the clear increase in asynchronous learning that is changing the way we view of future of education.

Not only has blended learning made way for asynchronous online learning in the classroom, but it’s been a great educational practice for students in alternative placements, homeschools, and online schools. Being in a remote location used to be a deterrent for those trying to achieve a degree; however, with the accessibility of devices like tablets and phones, it makes learning more available for any given situation. The dramatic shift in education has taken on the challenge of meeting the needs of every type of learner.

Online Education Trends — Applying Asynchronous Learning

Over the past year, Apple and Google have been capitalizing on the education market and its growth. As prime competitors, they both want a stake in the ever-changing digital education, especially since many schools are shifting to the student-driven, networking approach to learning. Districts and programs need affordable and reliable tablets and devices as they push for 21st century learning. Apple and Google are willing to make that happen.

With K-12 education market spending about $7.97 billion on resources this year, trends are estimating that over $13.4 billion will be spent by 2017. It’s no wonder these two companies are trying to get a piece of that share. Both Apple and Google have promised to provide learners with the best applications and resources for asynchronous learning. They are completely revolutionizing the way we view education by being fearless leaders in tools and technologies.

Apple’s Approach to Advancing Education

Founded in 1974, Apple was introduced by Jobs and Wozniak. With its company value at $464.2 billion, they are dominating the digital markets. In 2013, Apple increased their revenue in education sales to $1 billion on iOS and Mac products such as iPads. With schools purchasing devices for classrooms and those enrolled in school, these devices make learning possible to a wide range of students. Currently, over 43 percent of all tablets in schools are iPads. They are providing accessible online learning that can help a variety of learning styles and life situations.

Apple has also launched a new operating system called the OS X Mavericks, which allows educators and students to stream, create, and share content without the use of Airplay or projectors. This makes their iBooks app readily accessible, including a free update of iBooks Author for teacher and student use. With this program, all learners can create their own digital books. On the plus side, the OS X Mavericks possesses a faster processing ability that even reallocates your computer system memory. All of these efforts attempt to promote more access and convenience to its users.

In addition to a faster, more efficient operating system, Apple has introduced new iPads with more features. For example, the iPad MiniRetina has a sharp, new display that makes viewing clearer for users. As a smaller tablet, this new iPad provides ease of mobility along with Apple updates.

This new wave of iPads not only increases the convenience of acquiring information, but it has also helped many schools add iPads to their district budgets. With this new release, the price in the original iPad has dropped to $299, making it easier for districts to purchase more for student use. In fact, many districts are supplying students with individual iPads they can use until they graduate grade school. For those pursuing online education, this cheaper option could help students manage other financial obligations.

Along with its hardware, Apple is enhancing its apps as well. Its popular iTunesU will include more course content and teachable lessons, so learners can readily access this information and use it to further their education. Apple is not only encouraging student-driven learning, but it is also providing real-world context and application for learners to see the “big picture.”

With the launch of iBooks2, etextbooks will be available for student use to cut costs on print and hardback books in classrooms and at home. They have partnerships with such publishers as McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, major groups that create textbooks for education. This interaction can generate more accessibility of content and information, allowing students to foster their own learning and engage in the educational process.

Considering these efforts, Apple continues to promote more asynchronous online learning. For example, not only have their devices and major applications granted access to a wealth of knowledge, but other apps have been included in Apple’s efforts to boost education and 21st century digital approaches to learning.

For instance, many popular apps such as Edmodo allow teachers and students to interact. For a couple dollars, iStudiez Pro and other apps like Frog Dissection make learning more accessible, especially if some students are limited to their resources and mobility. Having a program that recreates a science experiment when a school doesn’t have the necessary materials allows students to see the process digitally.

Overall, these endeavors have allowed Apple to engage in life-long learning and the advancement of learning through digital means. Having this access to a wealth of knowledge puts the one-room schoolhouse in the dark ages of education. Back then, the student’s knowledge was only as strong as its teacher. Now, there is a plethora of information available at a student’s fingertips.

Google’s Take on Revolutionizing Education

A much younger company than Apple, Google began as a simple search engine in 1998. Valuing at $391.8 billion, this company has expanded to suit the needs of all of its users from email home-use, networking, scheduling and, of course, education. Similar to Apple, they are revitalizing the educational share market.

As of this year, Google’s Chromebooks are serving 20 percent of schools for their tablet use. With this lightweight device, students are able to create their own personalized accounts and utilize many of Google’s apps and services. Students also have the access to a speedy server and use Google’s programs to surf the Internet for web-based research and projects. Along with conducting research, students can hold conversations with teachers and peers through Google Docs, which allows files to be submitted and even edited to hold discussions and feedback.

In part of Google’s efforts, they wish to capitalize on the use of Chromebooks for teachers and students, while granting access to Google Play in schools. This makes movies, apps, TV shows, books, and non-fiction readily available for student use. This access to information at the touch of our fingertips is changing education for the better and lets students conduct their own learning and growth.

Google not only wants to provide convenience, but also wants to change the way we view education. Instead of rote memorization, taking notes, and lectures, learning is becoming more about an engaging, inviting atmosphere. In order to meet special needs students and those with various learning styles, Google promises to focus on how kinesthetic, visual, and audio learning can entice students to be individual learners. With schools making the rapid shift from chalkboards and whiteboards to interactive boards, this effort is making great strides in education.

After introducing Google+ and networking through different “circles,” the push for educational reform and asynchronous online learning involves creating innovative communities. Having a network of learners to provide information and encourage each other has made this endeavor a turning point from the traditional classroom and lecture hall setting.

With its evolution, Google promotes teacher-friendly apps. For example, YouTubeEdu videos are set up to not only provide solid, research-based content, but also make the learning process entertaining and easily understood. Educators can even submit their lessons and tutorials to share with their students and provide out-of-the classroom instruction, preparation or even tutoring sessions.

Instead of delving into notes or thick, outdated books, these videos are updated constantly to ensure the most current topics and information. Google’s efforts have not only kept learners updated, but they make information readily accessible to 21st-century learners.

Much like Apple, Google has developed many Android apps for education that over 30 million students have used in 2014. Of that 30 million, an estimated 7 million have been K-12 students. With these often free apps, students can interact with teachers and share information with peers. The Homework app allows work to span outside of the classroom, while Teacher Aide Pro ($5.99) provides teachers with the ability to reach their students to their highest potential. With these apps, the possibilities begin to seem endless.

Keeping Up With Best Practices

Without a doubt, education is constantly evolving, seemingly at a month-to-month rate. With the latest updates and devices readily available to a large chunk of districts and students, a student-driven environment is becoming the norm. The ultimate goal involves moving students towards “real world” success through context and application.

With Apple and Google on board as our largest providers in 21st century technology, they are completely changing the way we communicate, educate, and learn. It will be amazing to see what these two companies have in store for our educational future.

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