Now and next: the latest trends in education

Education is always evolving. Pedagogic techniques and classroom technologies constantly change and shift the manner and method by which we learn, and yet in many ways, we still need to catch up with ourselves. Modern classrooms still follow an industrial-age model, where the teacher stands up front and the students line up in rows across the classroom, all facing forward. Keeping both the excitement of new developments and the need for future change in mind, we’ve developed a list of the current and upcoming trends in education.

 

Blended learning

The rise of digital technology and particularly its growing popularity in the classroom has made the practice of blended learning ever more important. Blended learning is an excellent way for teachers and educators to begin making the gradual transition from traditional teaching to having technology incorporated into the classroom. Blended learning effectively switches things up in the classroom, encouraging students to really engage with curriculum topics. There are a number of ways teachers can use blended learning in the classroom: an educational film can be used to introduce a curriculum topic at the start of a lesson followed by discussion, or a topic taught in class can be reinforced through an online quiz. Blended learning also offers a degree of flexibility, in that it allows educators to experiment with different teaching methods such as the flipped classroomor class rotation.

 

Virtual reality

Think immersive. Virtual reality is the next exciting chapter of the digital revolution. From games to education, VR is already showing great potential in revolutionizing the way we learn, play and travel, as the three can all be easily linked. Projects like Google Expeditions allow teachers to take their class on virtual trips anywhere on this planet, and even beyond it. Additionally, the career expeditions allow students to step into the (virtual) shoes of various professionals to learn more about various careers in STEM.

 

Game time

There has been a fierce debate over the past few years about the advantages of gaming, especially in education. While some argue that can be distracting to actually help children focus, many experts believe games are conducive to learning. Games in education – or gamification, when combined with other hands-on activities and teacher instruction – can make for powerful learning tools. Games are hugely popular because they are engaging, fun and easy to access digitally – a medium that the younger generation is very familiar with. They also teach people problem solving skills, leadership abilities, determination and sporting integrity. Games such as Minecraft and the Angry Birds Math Game Time are already very popular with young children. Games can also be incredibly helpful in teaching children with learning difficulties. The recent advent of VR has made gaming even more popular and it’s only a matter of time before games will have be incorporated in classroom teaching.

 

Contextual learning

We at Twig have always been great believers in the merits of contextual learning, and with NGSS, there is definitely a movement towards this pedagogic technique. So what does contextual learning actually mean? Put simply, it’s linking what’s taught in the classroom to the wider world. (You can read more about it here). A great way of contextualising learning is to introduce a subject – for example, the scale of the universe – by way of a film. A discussion is then held in class around a question (How do we know how big the universe is? How do we compare it?), before students explore that question on a school trip to a planetarium. Here, they would collect photos or notes as evidence, and then back in the classroom, they would share their findings in individual or group answers. The teacher can then review their findings by playing the film back. Has their understanding changed since they were given the opportunity to contextualise their work?

 

As well as encouraging students to link their theories to the workings of the real world, contextual learning helps foster curiosity and expand understanding.

 

Communication and social skills

IT has changed how we seek out and take in information at lightning speed. Schools are adopting the use of digital resources, too, with many educational resources available online to students and parents. In the very near future, schools will have to seriously evaluate the skills they teach children at school in order to counter problems such as chronic absenteeism, student boredom and dropout rates. There will also be a shift in values and skills that are learnt in schools. Already, the successful PISA ratings of countries such as Finland have thrown a spotlight on the importance of teaching children good social and communication skills. The rise of technology should encourage us to place a huge importance on the development of these essential skills. Online learning has its drawbacks: it can be isolating, dampening children’s social and communicative skills, which are essential in the workplace and indeed in personal life – we need good communication for business as well as interpersonal relationships. Important social skills such as empathy, responsibility, and an ability to work in a team are essential for a well-functioning society: skills that neither technology nor the Internet can teach young people.

 

IT has changed how we seek out and take in information at lightning speed. Schools are adopting the use of digital resources, too, with many educational resources available online to students and parents. In the very near future, schools will have to seriously evaluate the skills they teach children at school in order to counter problems such as chronic absenteeism, student boredom, and dropout rates. There will also be a shift in values and skills that are learnt in schools. Already, the successful PISA ratings of countries such as Finland have thrown a spotlight on the importance of teaching children good social and communication skills. The rise of technology should encourage us to place a huge importance on the development of these essential skills. Online learning has its drawbacks: it can be isolating, dampening children’s social and communicative skills, which are essential in the workplace and indeed in personal life – we need good communication for business as well as interpersonal relationships. Important social skills such as empathy, responsibility, and an ability to work in a team are essential for a well-functioning society: skills that neither technology nor the Internet can teach young people.

 

Breaking away from convention:

The rising influence of PISA scores and the growing concern of nations all over the world about how to prepare an efficient future workforce has made educators push for major changes in the schooling system. Educational experts are currently evaluating the importance of school schedules, curriculum, and even nutrition! These changes are already reflected in Finland’s decision to scrap many traditional subjects in an attempt to integrate more interdisciplinary learning. The introduction of NGSS is already changing the way science is being taught, with the emphasis being laid on contextualising science within the real world in an effort to groom every student into a responsible, intelligent and active citizen of the planet. It won’t be long before more exciting changes revolutionise schools and universities, too.

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