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More education trends for 2014

Education predictions for the new year continue to roll in, and one of the most intriguing comes from IBM. The company predicts that "cloud-based cognitive technology [will] personalize education for students within five years," as reported by semanticweb.com.

Georgia's Gwinnett County Public Schools is working with IBM to test a research project called Personalized Education Through Analytics on Learning Systems (PETALS). The premise is that applying big data analytics and deep learning principles (connections in different types of data) can help students learn better.

In plainer language, the project aims to "analyze students' strengths and weaknesses and come up with a personal plan for each."

The Atlantic is watching five education trends, with special attention to how they affect minority and at-risk students. They are:

Competency-based learning is a fancy term for giving students credit for what they already know to shrink the time it takes students to graduate. Two strategies for doing this are already gaining national attention: advancing students based on mastery, and giving students credit for work experience.

Career and technical education — courses that help students gain technical, career-related skills.

Outrage over student loans. America's student-loan debt tops $1 trillion, causing policymakers to increase focus on making college more efficient and cost-effective. State and federal funding for higher education and financial aid has dropped radically since the 1980s, The Atlantic reports.

Data privacy concerns are already grabbing headlines about a backlash over collection and storage of student data, including grades, contact information and disciplinary records. Trust that the government will keep data secure will continue to ebb.

"Conservative legislative-advocacy group the American Legislative Exchange Council has put together a bill that would require state boards of education to make public their data-collection activities and restrict access to information about children's educational progress," the story said.

Teacher effectiveness. Efforts will continue to award teachers for their teaching skills instead of whether an educator holds an advanced degree.

The online learning insights blog predicts that the education world will see increased use of technology in three areas:

Seamless collaboration, whether at distance or face-to-face through storing projects "in the cloud" where they can be accessed anytime from any computing device.

"Over the next year, students will drive the collaboration movement forward through peer projects, virtual study groups and self-directed learning via their personal networks, though educators shouldn’t be far behind," the story predicts.

Humanization of online interactions in meetings, presentations and classrooms will improve as technical tools get better and cheaper.

Personalized learning supported by technology will allow learners to take charge and engage with education. Expect online social media to deepen its influence in the way learners take charge of education and document and share their learning.

Email: cbaker@deseretnews.com Twitter: @celiarbaker