The recent decade has seen innumerous columns in the media on the topic future of education. From top universities and the World Economic Forum — all have started assuming a more active role in either critiquing or redefining what education should be like in the future, writes Ryan Pinto, CEO, Ryan International Group of Institutions for Elets News Network (ENN).
In the Indian context, the whole ‘ed-tech’ (education technology) space is exploding with new ventures/apps being launched almost on a daily basis.
A big dilemma faced by the education sector is that most of the children who are now entering schools may work in jobs that do not exist today. So how does one build ‘adaptability’ in the students?
While it is almost impossible to predict what the future will be, some broad strokes can be predicated.
Impact of Technology
In many ways, this is now visible that it is absolutely impossible to escape from the interference of technology in the education sector. Technology has the power to completely transform education, which can of course be both good and not so good.
One of the key impacts of technology has been that memorising facts is no longer important, with Google being there for instant answers.
Application of knowledge is therefore becoming more important. This has an immediate implication on professional development of teachers as now the student’s universe is not limited to what teachers know. This is no longe the case. In many instances, the child has more resources available than the teacher does.
The shift from subject teaching will happen in the new future. In Finland, the schools have moved away from subjects to project based teaching
Technology has impacted the entire teachinglearning process right from assessments (becoming easier to create tests, get data and analyse), lesson plans (they are digitised, therefore easy to share), classroom experience (has transformed from ‘chalk and talk’ to ‘guide by side’), and textbooks (now digitised and enriched). Adaptive learning is now a reality. This and many more developments will create new paradigms in education.
Technology (or the lack of it) can create big divides between the haves and have-nots and this gap could keep getting wider. That is the not so good that have been mentioned earlier.
Schools will have to understand these new paradigms and then leverage them for the benefit of students and improved learning outcomes. This is however easier to say than being done.
Shift in pedagogy/curriculum Already the so called 21st Century skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, problem solving (also called SEL – social emotional learning) etc are becoming the most talked about things and many progressive schools like Ryan have integrated them into the curriculum. The shift from subject teaching will happen in the new future. In Finland, the schools have moved away from subjects to project based teaching.
Ability to apply knowledge will become more critical than rote learning. The entire syllabus and learning resources can now be made available either online or on a small Micro SD card. Children will have these resources readily available 24/7. The focus will be on what they do with it.
Teaching will thus morph into facilitation and this has already begun. Teachers will need to guide the students through the maze of resources which are out there. Hopefully, students will be more engaged with their learning. Teachers’ roles are shifting from owners of information to facilitators and guides to learning.
“Flipped classroom” and other learning models will become more prominent
Transformation of schools Schools in their current form of classrooms, chairs, desks will give way to more collaborative learning spaces. In an extreme sense, the concept of a school itself could change. We are already seeing this with the international curriculum schools where there is a lot of fluidity in the classroom environment. Mutli-age classes are a reality, where learners will be grouped more by interests or intellect, rather than their age group. With concepts like “flipped learning”, schools will cater to the social needs of children and children will do most of their learning at home. Virtual reality is still in early stages but even now it is possible for a child to be physically at home and be “present” in school. Taking this one step further and carrying it to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – imagine thousands of virtual classes going on at various locations in the world. A child could join any of those virtually. Children (even adults) can learn what they want, when they want and how they want.
One of the biggest issues with today’s education systems is that it is a “one size fits all” method. A class of 30 – 40 students has children with various learning styles but with just one teacher. Kids with learning challenges are clearly at a disadvantage.
One of the biggest issues with today’s education system is that it is a “one size fits all” method. A class of 30 – 40 students has children with various learning styles but with just one teacher. Kids with learning challenges are clearly at a disadvantage.
Now with technology, this can be addressed quite well. With the rise of computer-based assistive technologies like adaptive learning, text-to-speech, virtual reality, augmented reality, predictive spellers, artificial intelligence etc, the entire process of teaching-learning can be customised even to the level of an individual. Still early days for this, but the technology is developing fast.
Even introvert students will be able to participate in class. When we implemented BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in our schools we were pleasantly surprised to notice that many students, who were otherwise quiet in class became a lot more active in the class and opened up considerably. It was interesting to see them blossoming in the classroom.
Adaptive learning engines will help reinforce concepts and help children learn at their own pace. Gamification, which is an emerging trend, will create higher engagement with concepts and make learning more interactive and fun. Artificial intelligence will clearly make its presence felt in numerous areas. Personal robot teachers are no longer in the realms of science fiction and are a reality.
In the end, it is very difficult to predict the future. Who knew even 10 years ago that driverless cars would be a reality? We should be ready to embrace technology, use it in a relevant manner and as effectively as possible to enrich the teaching-learning experience of our students.
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