As the year slowly draws to a close, it offers a unique opportunity for both introspection and divination as we peer into the looking glass to try and determine what 2017 will bring. What will be the next Pokemon Go? What social platform will emerge that redefines how we communicate? While we reflect on the past twelve months, evaluating what worked and what didn’t go quite as planned, we are simultaneously planning a fresh start for 2017 – setting new resolutions, deciding to form new habits and planning goals for our personal lives. Professionally, on the other hand, we are taking this opportunity to scour the predictions for what will be big in our most influential spheres – communication and education. We firmly believe that there is something magical in being able to connect individuals during some of the most pivotal moments of their lives, resulting in a relationship which otherwise might not have been possible. And based on the latest predictions for which communication trends will take us by storm in 2017, we’re not alone in feeling that way.

As our world continues to evolve, so to do our abilities to share with the world around us. Although technology used to be knocked for prohibiting relationship growth (texting in lieu of talking, staring at a screen instead of engaging with the person next to you), the evidence suggests that technology can actually facilitate communication that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Facetime allows you to see a loved one who is miles and miles away. Apps like ours give parents insight into what their child’s school day looks like or reassurance that a loved one is receiving the care that they need. With these new developments and learnings, it comes as no surprise that the communication trends for 2017 are largely facilitated by technology. So, without any further ado, here are our predictions for what we will all be seeing (and doing!) more of in the coming months:

Watching All The Videos

Okay, yes, we know this is hardly revolutionary. Marketers have been calling video king since the late months of 2015. But, video isn’t going anywhere. Consider the mind-boggling statistics from these major platforms: earlier this year, Snapchat said its users watch 10 billion videos per day (one can only assume those statistics have increased since that time), Facebook users clock in at eight billion videos daily, and daily Youtube video views are in the billions (the video giant is reluctant to reveal precise data).

And while the inclination might be to believe that all that consumption is happening on lunch breaks and by teenagers, the fact of the matter is people aren’t just watching videos for pleasure. In a Forbes study, 75% of executives surveyed said they watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly, with 65% saying they visited a vendor’s website after watching a video. In addition, video might just be the most engaging way to try and connect with people. A Consumer Behavior Survey this year by Hubspot showed that over half (55%) of users say they consume an entire video, compared to 33% for interactive articles and a lowly 29% for blogs, while podcasts trail the bottom of the table at 17%.

Beyond the engagement factor, videos give an entirely new meaning to the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. A video adds depth and nuance to an update, which is why our app allows users to send and receive videos. By allowing individuals to feel like they were able to witness something firsthand, even if they weren’t able to be there in person, it makes the moment more meaningful and ultimately, more valuable.

In-The-Moment Communication

Snap (formerly known as Snapchat) has single handedly revolutionized user expectations for how we can receive content, shifting the focus to in-the-moment updates that centers on live content. It’s a revolution that we’re proud to be a part of, providing a lifeline to the moments that matter and giving individuals insights into experiences that they might not have otherwise had. Snap is looking to introduce new features in 2017, such as glasses that help users capture first person visual information – which is an interesting proposition given the utter failure of Google glass that we’re curious to see put into action. It speaks to another communication trend that we will likely see more of in the coming months- the desire for vicarious experiences. By showing – through video content, more platforms for expression, etc., we’ve created a craving for more details, more content and more insight into what it’s really like to be at the event in question. One of the most natural extensions of in-the-moment (or “live”) communications is the use of live video – streaming through an app like Periscope or via a feature of an existing social media platform like Facebook Live. According to a recent Brandlive study of 200 executives found that 44% held a live streaming event in 2015 and 39% believe live streaming will be important to their marketing efforts going forward.

New Areas of Communication Will Emerge

The way that we engage with the world – whether it be with our friends, strangers, colleagues, or even brands, is constantly evolving. When you think about how much of your communication already occurs on social media platforms (which is exactly why the PreciouStatus app allows you to share updates on Facebook), it’s only natural to assume that our existing social media platforms will change and that the behemoths like Twitter might finally meet their end. To that end, they will inspire the creation of new features – i.e., customer service and chat that is entirely integrated with the experience or the increased prominence of brand commerce.

Outside of our personal communication platforms, we will continue to see the rise of what are becoming known as “Enterprise Social Networks”. Following the success of Slack, Facebook launched their own answer to the internal communication conundrum with Workplace in October of this year. While ESNs (the cool kid acronym) have existed for years, in the past decade their prominence has grown from usage in just 10% of businesses to fully 65%. According to a McKinsey Global survey, usage is predicted to plateau at 70% by the end of 2017. Facebook already being an established player in the game might create a bit of hesitation from other startups to try and enter the market, but it’s safe to say that there will probably be at least one new player by the end of 2017.

Data-Driven Communication

Again, hardly revolutionary. But, what we will start to see in the coming months is a shift from measuring the “output” of a campaign, that is the reach, opens, views, clicks, etc. to trying to understand the “outcome” – i.e., how much impact the campaign actually had on the viewer. Intelligent automation software will help you better understand what relationships need to be nurtured, what content will give you the best result for each user type and how your user wants to be communicated with. Essentially, it’s offering personalized communication plans as opposed to a general content dump, which often results in disengaged viewers.

Communication is absolutely at the heart of everything that we do, but education is equally an important part of who we are as a company, so we’re always curious to see what’s going to be on the docket for schools in the coming year. Much like the changes to the way that we communicate, many of the trends for 2017 are being expedited and supported by technology. They also are founded in the same themes – personalization, live experiences (largely through virtual and augmented reality) and new software and technologies, primarily for use in research and physical education/student wellness.  

So what can you expect to see more of in classrooms in 2017?

Investment In Infrastructure

Put simply (and obviously), technology is here to stay and school districts are getting on board. If you have a student in a K-12 school, chances are good that they have come home with an iPad or laptop that was assigned to them by the school for their use to access the learning programs that their teachers utilize. That’s because school districts across the country are recognizing the importance of teaching tech to young learners and the role that technology plays in facilitating learning. For some students, however, the machine itself isn’t enough.

According to Pew Research, a third of all households in America lack broadband internet access and nearly half of those without internet do so not out of choice, but simply because they can’t afford it. This has resulted in a significant portion of students who are unable to complete their homework assignments, thus perpetuating the achievement gap in low-income areas. Thankfully, schools are recognizing the issue and starting initiatives to allow students without wifi to visit connected areas after the school day to complete their assignments.

Alternative Classroom Setups

With the advent of new technology like 3D printers, virtual reality, computer hardware and craft supplies, curriculums are no longer limited to textbook based learning. This has given rise to what are being called “makerspaces” (they’ve also been referred to as hackerspaces and fablabs) where students and teachers alike can play, experiment, and invent academic material. By putting real world applications to theories, students are able to apply tangible learnings, making the lesson more likely to stick and understand how the lesson is more useful.

In addition, makerspaces allow for students to engage on their level in an environment that encourages more holistic understanding of the subject matter. According to CoSN’s Horizon Report, there is a growing emphasis in K-12 education on deeper learning approaches, which essentially engages students in critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and self-directed learning. Makerspaces are one important aspect of achieving that goal, as we continue to evaluate how to best prepare today’s students for success in the real world.

The structure of the school day is also shifting to what could be called “bite-sized learning modules”. For adults, most productivity studies indicate that the human brain is only capable of intense concentration for a maximum of about an hour before your brain starts to wander and productivity decreases. The same is true for young students. This understanding has prompted a reevaluation of the typical school day model, wherein students are expected to sit and listen for hours. By dividing lessons into a more “bite-sized” approach, students are more likely to retain the learnings.

Competency Based Curriculums

Competency-based education” (defined as a different approach to learning via concrete skills as opposed to abstract concepts) is just one part of a larger movement to introduce new learnings and teaching methods that will better position students for real-world success upon graduation. Through a competency-based curriculum, students are required to directly apply their learnings to demonstrate competency, as opposed to being able to parrot back theory. Following statistics like this one from the Talent Shortage Survey, which states that in 2015, 38% of employers had difficulty filling jobs, as the “talent pipeline” from college to workforce struggles to produce work-ready graduates, schools are taking additional measures to adapt curriculums to arm students with practical work skills.

 Part of that effort has included an increased focus on project-based learning, peer to peer assessments and the accrual of measurable “skills” (i.e. the ability to code) that will augment more of the “soft skills” that are currently being acquired through a traditional learning approach. By mimicking the experiences that students will have in the real world, schools are better preparing today’s learners to be functioning members of society, which harkens back to the original goal of an education worth having and an effort from which we will all benefit.

Personalized Learning

Education has been trending in the direction of a more personalized approach for some time, but it’s
a major key to unlocking student success. Much like personalized communication being the most effective way for organizations and individuals to connect with their target user, so to is personalized learning the most effective way to make students the most receptive to new learnings, while simultaneously ensuring that they are more likely to retain the information. Of course, tailoring a curriculum to each individual student is no easy task and relies heavily on technology to achieve success with the initiatives. We will continue to see more programs released in 2017 which will support teacher’s ability to introduce a personalized approach to learning for each of their students, while beginning to test the waters around adaptive learning.

Adaptive learning takes a personalized approach one step further by reacting to a student’s learning pace and subject matter expertise. Much like the tests that get harder or easier depending on if you answer the question correctly or incorrectly, adaptive learning relies heavily on analytics and big data to test students on their understanding and reteach or advance their learnings as necessary. Due to the highly technical aspect of a successful adaptive learning approach, it’s unlikely that it will become adopted for mainstream use in 2017, but discussion around it will continue to grow as we explore how we can continue to leverage enterprise-level technologies for learning.
Which trends are you most excited to see in 2017? Whatever comes to be, here’s to a happy and healthy New Year for you and yours from the team at PreciouStatus.