Trends from 2013: technology

FTTE logoI continue my look back at the year’s major trendlines in education and technology.  This is the second post of a series based on the FTTE reports, starting with this one on 2013’s education trends.

Today’s post asks: which technology trends dominated 2013?

Obviously this is a vast and complex field, so I’ve identified tendencies which are having an impact in education already, or which plausibly might do so in 2014:

3d printing continues to innovate and grow. Every week sees new uses of 3d printing, as that technology develops as a consumer and industrial good.  

Wearable computing, a 2013 pollNew interfaces. The mouse and keyboard have been shouldered to one side by the rapid rise of new forms of computer interaction, including voice (think Siri and “OK Glass), touchscreen, and hands-free gestures (Xbox Kinect). While keyboard and mouse remains widely used, it is no longer the interface for a supermajority of use cases.

Social media. The social Web moved from strength to strength, taking up an ever-increasing amount of our time and digital behaviors. Twitter, Facebook, blogging continue to have enormous user bases, while Pinterest races up to join them, and Google+ steadily grows.

Automation’s promise. Many discussions of the global economy turned to issues of automating human activities by robotics, software, or both. Notably, IBM’s Watson took up new functions.

Cloud computing. This form of outsourcing data and computation is no longer seen as a wildly new thing. Instead, many users and a growing number of institutions simply use cloud services for a variety of functions.

Copyright battles continue. Legal fights over fair use, first sale, patents, and other intellectual property issues raged on.

Device ecosystem keeps growing. The number and variety of hardware devices kept churning out new configurations and roles. Highlights included:

  • The shift from PCs to a mix environment of PCs plus mobile devices, a/k/a the post-PC world. Smartphones and tablets rose.
  • The Android and iOS operating systems (Google’s and Apple’s, respectively) solidified their positions as world leaders.
  • Wearable computing: Google Glass and other devices have explored the limits of where humans will use hardware.

eBooks continue to grow and develop. eBooks established a huge presence in the book world. It is unclear if that role will expand or plateau in 2014.


Digital video grows. From YouTube to Netflix streaming to videoconferencing, humanity kept desiring and making more networked video.

Imagine a 2014 where these trendlines continue.  What does the technology world look like by next December?

Meanwhile, and in contrast, which trends haven’t been so clearly evident in 2013?

Augmented reality. This technology is growing quietly, more for location than visualization uses.

Challenges to Moore’s Law. The capabilities of computer speed and memory keep rising.

The Web plateau. The Web remains a powerful force in human life, despite the rise of non-Web ecosystems, namely apps and off-Web streaming content.

3d tv. The much-ballyhooed technology lost many prominent supporters, and has failed to win broad adoption.

Onshoring hardware production. Despite several experiments, technology companies generally prefer to source production in countries other than the United States.

Coming up: 2013 trends for the intersections of technology with education.

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2 Responses to Trends from 2013: technology

  1. Pingback: Trends from 2013: education and technology | Bryan Alexander

  2. Pingback: Trends from 2013: the higher education bubble | Bryan Alexander

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