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The Year in Technology: Predictions

2012 was a landmark year for technology in education, and in 2013, schools can continue to look forward to newer, better tech in the classroom. EducationWorld has looked into its crystal ball to bring you the biggest technological releases that the education community can expect this year.

Apple TV

Apple TeleThis is a rumor that has been swirling for a while, and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was coy when asked about it on NBC’s “Rock Center.” Everyone from fanboys to industry insiders believe this will be the next big thing to come out of Cupertino, presenting an interesting dilemma for K-12 schools. Do they jump right on the sure-to-be-crazy-expensive sets, or do they look for cheaper (albeit more complicated) alternatives?

The Apple television is expected to boast not only WiFi connectivity, but also native software that will run apps, connect to iTunes, the App Store, the Internet and seamlessly sync to all the iPods, iPads and iPhones already dominating the education space. Yet schools could continue purchasing much less expensive sets and third-party set-top boxes that provide wired Internet access, but no direct access to the App or iTunes stores.

Many are watching the television release with interest to see if it repeats the success of the iPad in the school market.

Nest Thermostat

Nest ThermoThese next-level thermostats already exist, but expect 2013 to be the year when they explode onto the scene. Handy for any indoor space that needs to control its HV/AC, the self-described “learning thermostat” remembers its temperature settings for time of day and year so that it “learns” what the temperature should be at any given moment. Eventually, users never have to adjust it, because it knows that on Sept. 5 at 1 p.m., the temperature inside should be 72 degrees, and that on Dec. 1 at 7 a.m., it should be 74 degrees.

Those two degrees may not seem like a big deal, but ask any administrator about their cost ramifications. Because Nest is connected to the Internet via WiFi, administrators can adjust temperature settings via a suite of apps from anywhere in the world, which can be advantageous during snow days or summer heat waves.

Nest will help schools by taking the worry out of maintaining a comfortable—yet cost-effective—building temperature year-round.

802.11ac WiFi

wifiZDNet breaks down the product’s specs in this way: “802.11ac promises wireless networks at gigabit speeds, using the same 5GHz spectrum as 802.11n (which can also operate in the crowded 2.4GHz band), but with channels that are 80MHz or even 160MHz wide (rather than 40MHz) and eight spatial streams rather than four.”

Here’s the translation for non-techies: This new WiFi standard is a lot faster than the current model. For schools, that means the large workload placed on current WiFi networks can be handled with greater ease. It also means that video and interactive-heavy applications and Web sites can be accessed more quickly, which will provide a smoother, cleaner student experience.

Belkin, Netgear and Asus are already producing routers to meet this new standard, and they are expected in stores soon.

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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