As CORE Education’s influential Ten Trends initiative enters its 10th year, KAREN SPENCER looks back on the origins of the trends and what’s in store for 2016.

ll modern educators know the value of staying relevant and connected to the world around us. We might be leading change in schools, developing vision and strategic direction, or helping our communities understand new thinking in education – whenever we need to innovate and problem solve, it is vital that we ground our thinking in research and effective practices by connecting to sources beyond our immediate context.

For nine years, CORE Education has sought to support the New Zealand education sector and beyond to look at developments on the horizon as a provocation for thinking afresh about what we are currently doing to support our learners. The ‘CORE Ten Trends’ is a keystone initiative that anchors a whole range of resources from this not-for-profit organisation.

The origin of the Ten Trends

Each year, CORE Education’s experienced staff of researchers and educators pool their expertise and combine their understanding and evidence of the ways that social and technological trends are influencing all aspects of education. The result is a list of the 10 trends that are expected to make a growing impact upon education in New Zealand in the coming year.

For many years, these trends spotlighted the extraordinary adoption of new and emerging digital technologies to explore their impact on learners of all ages. For example, back in 2007, we spotlighted ePortfolios (‘Fad or future-focused?’) while 2008 saw us touching on ‘mash-ups’ and ‘loop’ networks.

The information presented in these early years tended towards a brief summary, strikingly succinct compared to the rich, multi-media offerings that the Ten Trends now represent!

The purpose in presenting these trends each year is to provide a glimpse of the ‘big picture’ within which we operate in the education system. It is important to recognise that these are trends, not specific predictions. They indicate broad developments across multiple fields that are likely to influence all our work in coming months and years. As such, they are offered to provoke further research, investigation and discussion to help leaders and educators determine what might affect strategic planning.

Recent years

While the Ten Trends have their origin in digital technologies, these days this resource takes a broader view. From 2014, CORE has organised ideas in relation to five categories of innovation and change: cultural, structural, technological, process, and economic.

With two trends selected for each of the five key areas, the team aims to provide a context for understanding how the trends may develop, and where we’re likely to see the impact of what is happening.

An innovation for 2015 was the provision of spotlights on practitioners who were embracing some aspects of one of the trends in their organisations. For example, the focus on Maker Culture in 2015 saw CORE provide a summary of the key ideas with a window on the work of Kimberly Baars and Stephen Lethbridge at Taupaki School. In addition, the scholarships offered by CORE, such as the eFellows, Pasifika and Vince Ham awards, use the Ten Trends as a backdrop for stimulating applications and research.

The Ten Trends have come a long way since the first brief summaries were published. Now, each trend is unpacked in a post on the CORE blog and website, accompanied by a collection of videos on the EDtalks Ten Trends channel, curated resources on Bundlr (32.5k+ views to date) and events such as the CORE Breakfasts. The EDtalks videos in particular provide powerful provocations for professional learning; the 2015 ‘Learner Orientation’ video has been accessed 55k+ times, while the ‘Learner Agency’ film has received 5,500+ views to date.

A sneak peak at 2016

This year, the Trends will include a strong focus on diversity and digital fluency, equitable access, collaboration and managing change, to name a few. We are keen to ensure that the mega-trends that influence our work in New Zealand, such as super-diversity, equity and the growth of grassroots networks, are to the fore so that educators can see strong local relevance in them.

While many sites offer different trend summaries and predictions for the coming year, CORE Education is keen to keep pushing the boundaries around the relevance and usefulness of the Ten Trends to New Zealand educators. 2016 sees the Ten Trends innovate yet again. This year, 10 of our experienced educationalists are each hosting one of the trends that we expect to make an impact upon education this year.

So, for example, you will see Carolyn English (Professional Learning Services Manager) hosting ‘Data driven organisations’, Manu Faaea-Semeatu (Digital Technologies Facilitator and Pasifika Malaga) hosting ‘Community focus’ and Mark Osborne (Senior Advisor Future-Focused Education) hosting the trend ‘Change Leadership’. Throughout the year we plan to build the explanation, research, links and opportunities for further learning and exploration for each trend, providing a growing resource around the 10 themes for ongoing professional learning.

Watch out for the trailer early in term 1 with teaser summaries, and the growing collection of curated resources and events throughout the year.

How to use the Ten Trends

The Ten Trends have proved themselves to be a vital, popular resource for educators looking for an engaging, informed platform for discussions around change and innovation. They are eagerly awaited each year and often referenced across the sector. In the 2014 survey, for example, 83 per cent of respondents said they used the trends to keep up with new thinking, while over half used them to inform their personal learning interests.

We have found that organisations get best use of of this resource in the following ways:

  • Shared reading and stimulus for professional learning sessions and events
  • Reference points for teacher inquiries
  • Provocation for conversation in lead teams as a prelude to visioning and strategic planning
  • Accessible, dip-in reading for staff and communities
  • Reference points for research.

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