Decades ago, when we thought of new trends in education, we would have perhaps moved between an inductive method to deductive, from instructional teaching to interactive learning.
Today, teaching has taken an e-turn where students want personalized learning methods and to reduce the dependency on teachers for instructions. Educators primarily play the role of mentors.
The dependence on digital technology by the youth of today can seem overwhelming to us. But we have to accept that these technologies are pushing the boundaries of learning and the way education is being delivered around the world.
For example, a recent survey by Research and Markets, “Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector 2017-2021”, predicts the use of AI in K12 and higher ed could grow 47.5 percent by 2021. Moreover, content is also available in varied formats, catering to diverse learning skills and dispositions.
We cannot expect students to be passive recipients of lessons in a classroom. It is healthy to encourage them to be an active participant in framing the curriculum, choosing the learning resources and the method of learning that aids their understanding.
Each method of learning has a corollary cognitive impact. For example, a Wikipedia entry might generate more interest in a topic more than a traditional textbook or encyclopedia. Some children retain information through listening, others find visual-aid like videos, paintings or diagrams more useful. As parents, we need to help our kids understand what works best for them but most importantly, helps them learn.
While a lesson using Augmented or Virtual Reality might seem a wholesome experience and most importantly convenient, it might restrict imagination; a vital component in critical thought. We need to play the parent in such cases.
While being well-grounded in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and technical fields is critical for young people who will compete for the jobs of the future, a well-rounded knowledge of the arts helps them contextualize their education. So make sure your child learns is exposed to the arts and humanities and not just much mathematics.
When choosing a school we need to keep in mind a few things.
- How keen is a school in ensuring accessible infrastructure for children and their individual needs?
- Are the teachers trained to meaningfully engage children in blended learning?
- How much impact the school has had on the community. In short, is the school producing great citizens of tomorrow?
Gone are the days when soft skills were considered a part of upbringing at home or emotional well-being a personal affair. We are faced with a new political environment where schools have a worldview and they need to lead the way in sensitizing children to accommodate their sensibilities to a cosmopolitan space. There are bound to be stress, anxiety, and schools should be equipped to handle those. Hence a successful school would also invest in students’ social-emotional learning (SEL).
We need to assess a school based on how inclusive it is. Not just in terms of physical infrastructure but also in teaching tools. AR and VR will not be the same for children who have problems with vision.
Incorporating basic tech methods to interact with students over email, text, Google Docs, will facilitate shared learning and flexibility to work from anywhere they are. This cloud comes with a silver lining! We need to make sure the teachers are prepared to give a chance to the children, to understand that some children might be good at grasping texts, others might be good at digital-visual content. We should engage with the teacher regarding the cognitive skills of children.
The Career Conundrum
It would be a good idea to train children with the specificities of the industry early in their career while staying prepared for contingencies. For example, it might be great to learn the law as a subject, but a child might not have the temperament or interest to invest themselves in the demands of corporate set up. One might be interested in being a great publisher some day. But they need to be aware of the drudgery of proofreading a manuscript over and over again. In short parents/mentors need to be able to give a clear picture of the actual work that goes into making a career.
In meantime, as children are exposed to different circumstances, goalposts shifts, new interests surface. As parents how prepared are we for that kind of challenge? It would be wise to leave scope for rearrangement of career plans. While a bit of research on programmes and tour of the university would be a good idea, in many schools and districts, the power IoT (Internet of Things) is already being harnessed for keeping track of people, and their activities. Keeping track of performance and harnessing data to assess aptitude towards career could be of great help.
How do we assess learning? We have to move beyond traditional parameters and employ newer metrics to assess learning. Its common sense that different people have different skills. Hence our standards of assessment should not be unfair in its basic tenets.
For example, Cheryl Morris, an English teacher at San Jose Middle School in the Novato Unified School District in suburban San Francisco, makes short videos of herself to discuss assigned texts. While a few students choose to watch Morris on video – either at home or in class – others prefer to read the texts themselves. Interestingly, by offering the flexibility to choose their preferred method of learning, Morris has been able to bring her students’ failure rate from 10-15% down to zero!
Thanks to these emerging trends in education, teachers are increasingly banking on online coursework and micro-credentials themselves to stay on top of rapidly evolving fields. According to a recent report by Blackboard, nearly forty percent of schools are now offering online professional development for their teachers, witnessing a two-fold increase in the figure available in 2013.
So our knowledge of new trends in education translates into actively participating in the process of schooling of our child. In the business of education, we are all stakeholders. The idea is to ensure holistic educational experience, assess challenges in reading, writing, comprehension or mathematics and always be on the lookout for fun-filled learning. Offering a slew of educational and interactive apps and games, companies like Kahoot! and Socrative have already made assessments more fun, affordable and accessible.
Big data is pushing boundaries in the business of education with more and more use of artificial intelligence to consolidate feedback as an additive factor to the understanding employed by the teacher or mentor.