As has been said time and again, the only thing constant in life is change. When it comes to education, it is obvious that what we see today is in many ways different from what was happening decades ago. For many parents and educators seeing children joining school now, a key concern has to be what the sector will be like when they get to secondary school and beyond. Here are some of the issues likely to change how schools will operate in the future.
Advancements in technology have picked up in recent times. Partly due to the pandemic that has made it necessary to figure out ways to ensure learning can continue safely and remotely. The use of laptops, tablets, smartboards, remote and hybrid learning have become increasingly commonplace.
This is however a strain on children from poorer households, meaning that governments will need to invest more in making such technology more accessible. Bring your own device (BYOD) learning may be easier for more elite schools to implement, but not so for poorer demographics. Parents will also need to be more vigilant in ensuring this technology is not being hijacked to allow communication with undesirable people. More monitoring will be needed to prevent abuse and ensure children are getting a quality education.
Going paperless is a global trend as more and more is done to become environmentally conscious. While enjoying a good book and studying have always been admirable behaviour, it makes sense to switch to e-books, especially where students now have access to digital devices like laptops and tablets. Many schools across the world have built up online libraries where students can more easily and affordably access the literature they require for learning. This is the same direction being taken with even older learning institutions with large physical libraries. The future is definitely digital.
3. Artificial Intelligence
The use of AI in the learning arena does have its uses. Biometrics and facial recognition are already utilised in some places for verifying exam candidates and taking roll-call. These systems may also be able to collect data on online interactions and behaviour to see how learners are reacting to content and identify what may be better used to encourage their interest and focus. This technology may also be able to reduce the workload on educators by automating certain tasks like grading and offering guidance and discussion through chatbots.
4. Mental Health
Much attention has been paid to how remote and hybrid learning during the pandemic has proven stressful to children. However, teachers have also been hard-hit by the same issues. Tasks that could have been accomplished in a few minutes can now take as much as half an hour to complete. There is much more individual attention to be paid to students, even when class sizes have remained the same. Not to mention some teachers are parents themselves and have to juggle managing the classes they teach while also supervising their children during remote learning.
The high levels of stress being suffered have driven many to quit their teaching job and may soon lead to a devastating shortage of educators. Too much stress has been linked to many physical and mental health problems. Schools and authorities are looking towards incorporating wellness, self-care, and mindfulness techniques in their training to help educators learn how to better cope. This trend is likely to continue as a means to prevent an exodus from the sector.
5. Career Oriented Learning
Students have for a long time been compelled to take up a broad range of subjects to pass exams. Most curriculums will expose them to some level of literature, maths, sciences, art, and music. However, as the workload on students and teachers has grown, moves are now being made towards allowing children to focus on subjects that will be most relevant to building the careers they want. Letting them focus on learning what they can make practical use of later in life is something that may be accommodated sooner rather than later.
6. Qualified Imitation
There is no better example of this than international schools. These are schools established in different countries that adopt and follow a foreign curriculum. This is thanks to a now broader understanding of how other educational systems work and realising that local options may not be good enough. In many countries, there has been a strict focus on academics but in more recent times a growing realisation that more well-rounded students are the preference for elite institutions of higher learning. It is only natural that with time educational systems will be reformed to improve the calibre of students that graduate by taking stock of what other countries and types of schools are doing.
7. Vacation Time
The pandemic has already badly affected the learning schedule of many educational systems in the world. Many that have been enjoying the standard 10-week vacation time in summer will likely see more permanent changes in future to shorten this layoff. Shorter breaks, especially around holiday periods like Easter and Christmas are more likely to be adopted to stem the often noticed learning loss that comes from the prolonged pause of school-going.
Those of a certain age will remember how much emphasis was once paid to penmanship. Videos demonstrating the nuances of this task on triple lined paper have even become a fad online. This skill has however become all but obsolete as most careers and tasks that required writing out information have become digitised. Beyond appending signatures, most communication is now done digitally through email, online forms, texting, and so on. Chances are penmanship will also soon lose any significance.
9. Vocational Training
Especially at the tertiary level, there has been much emphasis on earning more qualifications like masters and PhD degrees. MBA programs have also proliferated. It has however led to a glut of overqualified job candidates with limited practical experience in the field they have trained in. Employers are now looking towards hiring a workforce that has practical skills rather than just theoretical ones. Vocational training has become more popular in more parts of the world. Not only is it more affordable, but the recruitment rate is high. We are likely to see more students graduating secondary school opt for vocational training as the best means to getting into the field they want.
10. Exam Testing
Exams have long been determined to not be the best way to gauge a student’s understanding of a subject. They merely encourage the memorisation of information. The education sector is looking at how exams can be modified to better assess students understanding. We can already see how some subjects are adopting more practical assessments rather than just written tests.