As school year begins, education landscape is changing
Friday, September 12, 2014
There have been some interesting developments recently in the education sector, especially imparting education in the K-12 levels. The beginning of 2014 saw major predictions being set for the way education will take shape in these times of rapid change and technology. As the 2014-15 school year begins, we are seeing some of these predictions come true.
Tech-driven teaching practices have stormed in and have been consolidated as key teaching tools for most states this year. Another major development has been more student-centric learning and responsibilities. To this effect we are seeing an increasing number of peer conferences as well as customized pace for each student to learn as they can.
Students now have unprecedented access to mobile devices and the Internet. Recent data shows that 89 percent of high school students have access to or own Internet-connected smartphones, 50 percent have access to high end tablets and 60 percent have laptops of their own. Even 50 percent of elementary school students have access to these smart devices.
With these statistics defining today's generation, it is no surprise that technology has a big say in the way children are taught. The use of video and mobile devices for schoolwork has completely changed the way teachers and students are interacting and learning. Calling it the "Khan Academy effect," experts are predicting more such digital avenues to make learning more interactive.
As per CORE Education, one of the top 10 trends for 2014 was gamification. It came as a surprise for many, yet it's not even a month into the new school year, and we see more than 60 percent of students using their digital devices as gaming devices. Interactive and intelligent games have become part of the extended curriculum to help students learn difficult concepts more easily and retain what they have learned in school.
What is encouraging is that students are showing the maturity to choose devices that best suit their learning needs instead of blindly following their peers. Blending technology with specific learning needs has also led to increasing interest in online learning, especially for any extra help that students may need. Math is ruling the market here, with foreign language and science coming next.
While there is a definite spotlight on math and reading this year, a lot of focus is also being given to student-centric learning where each student sets his or her own pace. This is an important development since every individual learns differently, and this special focus will enable students to perform better in a group as well.
Another trend seen across the nation is student conferences — ones where students are attending conferences with their parents and others where peers conference among themselves. If you are wondering why this is becoming so popular then all you need to do is go back to what author/consultant Marcus Buckingham has been telling us all this while: focus on your strengths. These advanced and interactive tools with clever "front-loading" techniques have now enabled students to learn through their strengths and hone their innate skills better.
Along with project-based learning there is also increased focus on various intuitive and hybrid learning designs like flipped classrooms and open content. Advanced learning management platforms are becoming the norm for classroom instruction tools as well as for homework and references. Teachers, students and parents are more closely linked to each other through these online platforms where they can monitor progress, readily share information and add to the learning resources.
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