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Tongue magnets
Credit: Kike Calvo via AP Images

A conversation about education technology trends does not typically include the phrase “tongue magnets.”

But that’s exactly what I heard about last week, during a webinar that offered a preview of an annual report that catalogues the promise and challenges presented by trends in digital learning. The full 2015 K-12 edition of the New Media Consortium Horizon report will be released in late June, during the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Philadelphia.

Among the trends mentioned Tuesday in a preview of the report: wearable technology. I asked about that trend during the webinar, expecting to hear something about FitBits in gym class. Those were indeed mentioned, and then I heard the words “tongue” and “magnet.”

The idea is intriguing. The technology allows disabled students to use touch screen devices, such as tablet computers. The system requires use of something that looks a bit like an orthodontic retainer. It enables people to swipe their tongue to control the touch-screens that have become a staple of modern life.

As you might imagine, the Horizon report isn’t the only attempt to gauge the latest trends in the dynamic field of education technology. The World Bank is currently conducting a review of more than “800 policy documents related to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education from high, middle and low income countries around the world in order to gain insight into key themes of common interest to policymakers,” according to a blog post at EduTech, a World Bank blog about education technology.

More than 800 documents? That’s a challenging reading list, even for wonks who willingly read dense public policy documents that would require mere mortals to prop open their eyelids with toothpicks. And that might be why the World Bank’s work discovered that public policies don’t always reflect what teachers, students and people on the ground-level say matters the most to them.

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