10 Future Trends in Education and Learning
We've created a culture where students spend the formative years of their life in the classroom, preparing to enter an ever-changing world. The education they receive will affect how ready students are when they inevitably leave the classroom. As the world and our future job prospects are changing, our education system must adapt to help grow students into people who have the skills to succeed in the modern world.
Creative thinker, writer and serial entrepreneur Seth Godin has a history of helping people to learn. He sees a distinct difference between learning and education. On the surface, these two ideas sound the same but from Seth's perspective, learning is essential; we learn by doing things- things we are curious about. Education is a system created around compliance and indoctrination. It teaches what society has agreed students need to know and yet there is a gap between the knowledge our education system provides and the skills today's students need to be successful.
These 10 trends that we currently see emerging are ones that will help to reconnect learning and education, leading to higher engagement and increasing human ability to navigate the changes of the next few decades as predicted by the World Economic Forum.
People are naturally curious. If you give students the chance to follow their own interests, it will more often than not lead them to a path of learning, whether it be wondering why birds migrate or discovering a way to make a skateboard work better on a sandy road surface. Edsys explains that students focusing on their own preferences through flexible learning patterns is of strong benefit to student’s educational outcomes (Edsys, 2017). Through following students’ own interests, each student can individually learn core skills such as literacy by reading about topics of interest or numeracy by fundraising for a cause they are passionate about or pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors.
Alongside the skills like literacy and numeracy which have long impacted job prospects, students today benefit from being technologically proficient and able to succeed in a tech-driven world. Brayden Fox at Medium explains that as technology becomes more able to create and store data, data interpretation is to be one of the major technologies that will shape education (Fox, 2017). While many students are already individually learning to use technologies in their own time, explicitly teaching them how to use it in a way that positively impacts their life, whether it be accessing useful resources, harnessing the positive sides of connection over social media or using technology to analyze data or to create multimedia projects will become increasingly important.
We know that there’s a large population of students who struggle with their mental health. The World Health Organization estimates mental health conditions account for 16% of the diseases and injuries in people aged 10 to 16 (WHO, 2020). And just because a student isn't currently struggling with mental health conditions doesn't mean that they cannot also benefit from an education that focuses on the proactive wellbeing of the individual. Education in social-emotional learning can prepare students to be resilient and to care for their own happiness throughout their lives. It is not the role of either a parent or a teacher to remove the bumps from the road ahead for their children, rather it is preparing the child to meet the bumps and not just survive them but thrive.
Social media has given students the ability to have their voice heard on issues of importance to them in a manner unlike any time in the past, and many students are eager to get involved in creating the future they want to see. Connecting the dots between what they are learning in school and how they can make an impact in the world invigorates students to get involved with the content in and out of the classroom. Taking their learning off the paper and into the community at large will also better prepare students for the real world, where their knowledge will likely be used to problem solve in ways that rarely involve a five-paragraph essay.
A Focus on Equity
It’s an unavoidable truth that students today can still experience vastly different versions of education based on the privileges they have, or don’t have, in their lives. Forbes lists a more accessible education as one of the “Top 5 Tech Trends That Will Disrupt Education in 2020” (Forbes, 2020). All students receiving the materials and accommodations they need to learn is essential to creating a society which fully educates all of their youth to the best of their ability. In additon, a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion education is an essential addition to any curriculum to create students who are prepared to be informed citizens working towards a better world.
Data Driven Result Tracking
The assessment standards that we’ve been using in education may not be working to provide the best possible outcomes for students, and they aren’t the only choice we have to create a trackable way of seeing how our students are learning. Terry Heick at Teach Thought explains assessment as “the process of uncovering understanding” as opposed to measuring (Heick, 2015). Instead of looking at assessment as a way to rank students, it can be looked at as a way to know what information still needs to be conveyed. Moreover, with advances in artificial intelligence, the Future Skills Center explains AI could be a tool to assess students in a way more beneficial to students and teachers (Future Skills Center, 2020).
There’s no reason learning can’t take place through the platforms that students already enjoy. Edsys suggests that combining entertainment with learning will likely be a beneficial addition to traditional classroom-based learning (Edsys, 2017). Teachers are already taking advantage of this whether it be learning through virtual reality experiences, or games such as Minecraft and Among Us. As this trend continues to grow, there is no doubt we will require a regulatory body for student-safe learning apps and spaces.
In a time when almost any information is available to us through justs a quick search, one of the most important skills can be learnin how to connect with others with similar interrestss. Heick suggests that in the future knowing how to create a network could be more important than the actual content being learned (Heick, 2015). Community building can also be done through virtual experiences. Fox explains virtual classrooms will likely continue to be important to education (Fox, 2017). But while virtual learning can mean being separate from peers, it can also allow possibilities to connect, whether it be through breakout rooms or inviting guests who’s location would otherwise prevent them from attending class.
Identifying Reliable Sources
Making sure students are properly conducting their own work has for a long time been a concern, and Fox explains that recent educational advances have allowed for better plagiarism checkers so teachers can better ensure students are truly learning. In addition to making sure students don’t plaigarize, more than ever students need the skills of identifying reliable information. Being able to sort out true and useful information from mere opinion or misinformation will be essential to today's students (Fox, 2017).
For years students have learned subjects as if they are distinct from each other, learning addition in maths and reading comprehension in language arts. But the same tools can be instilled through projects which give students the chance to combine their learning in a real world way.
Edsys conveys internships as a valuable tool to career readiness for students, which like creating projects for students in the classroom, allows them to work on the skill of applying their knowledge as well as learning and gaining understanding (Edsys, 2017). This often involves flipping the classroom or bring in external; experts.
And what else...
We know that change is hard, and changing systems can be even more difficult. Since school is currently disrupted globally in an unprecedented way, we see an opportunity to create positive new learning & education initiatives. Our CreatePositive culture is one that embraces the idea that "we don't know what we don't know". If you think there's an important education trend that we should be exploring, please let us know either via email or in the comments on one of our social feeds.