The COVID-19 pandemic shows that we cannot treat the future of education as a given. By exploring alternative forms of education, we can not only consider the possible consequences but at the same time develop flexible, sensitive educational systems and be prepared for possible shocks in the future.
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So, what are the changes that seem most likely to happen?
Online learning. In the past, all the knowledge we needed was provided by universities and schools. Due to the Internet invention, we got additional easily accessible sources of information such as various online courses. Now with the COVID-19 in the world education online has become a common thing, so in the future, we’ll see its further spread and development.
New teaching approaches. For instance, a new “Flipped classroom” strategy might be applied in educational systems around the world. The idea is to listen to theoretical material at home and carry out the assignments at university/school, where the instructor will have an opportunity to explain everything and help with the solutions. Such a system is much more convenient, so in the future, it can easily replace the current one.
Culture exchange. Many countries have systems of educational experience exchange. They are used by both teachers and students. Every once in a while you visit another educational institution for studying or teaching. The trend is positive and rapidly spreading in the world.
The decline of the traditional system of education. It is entirely possible that education will soon look different. For example, you can choose whether you want to visit an educational institution or take an online course and listen to a lecture remotely. Flexibility will be a priority.
Reducing the number of lecturers. If in the future special robots are able to conduct some classes, the number of human educators might be dramatically reduced. The robots will just follow the given curriculum, rather than improvise with teaching methods though.
Gamification. In the future, you will be able to learn by using special games, like now we can use Alias to practice a foreign language. You will think that you are only playing, but in fact, you are learning something new.
The new role of teachers. No matter how good teaching materials may be, it is the teacher who has a major influence on the learning process. And if an educational system is focused on the accumulation of knowledge, the teacher has two main roles: to convey information and control academic performance. In the school of the future, this will not be enough. In order to facilitate the formation of soft skills, a teacher should be able to motivate children, should ignite and support curiosity. Their task is to create an atmosphere in which students will independently obtain facts, find solutions, and communicate with each other.
A new system of quality control. Today schools primarily assess student performance. And it is logical if we are talking about a system in which the purpose of the educational process is the transfer of knowledge. But this approach does not help to control the development and formation of skills, so we need a new system of metrics. Now experts are inclined to consider students’ involvement in the educational process and the speed of progress. And this new system of metrics should assess not only students, but the learning process itself: if the whole class failed to cope with the task, it is not a students’ problem – it is a problem of the way the information is delivered. This approach will promote teachers’ development and improve the quality of instructional materials.
Personalized approach. All children have different learning speeds and abilities but this should not become an obstacle to the educational process. The situation when the whole class is waiting for the weakest student should be replaced by individual programs of study. It is enough for students to have a supply of tasks of different levels of difficulty so that all children can safely learn and consume information at their own pace while meeting the necessary academic requirements.
New educational content. A new educational system needs new learning materials. New instructional materials should identify problematic topics and provide tasks for practicing various skill sets.
A unified and transparent platform. School should be clear and transparent for all participants: principals, guidance counselors, parents, teachers, and, of course, students. Parents need to understand how children are progressing. Principals will be able to assess the quality of individual lessons and the whole educational process. Teachers, in their turn, should see the educational process not only through the prism of their subjective evaluations but also through metrics which were discussed above. Transparency is an important element of education. It directly affects the flexibility and ability of the system to adapt to the changes and challenges of the future.
So the school of the future is not something futuristic, incomprehensible, and packed with technology. More precisely, technology is only a tool that helps to achieve the goal but not the main feature of the school of the future. And the goal should be the following: to prepare children for a happy life and a successful career in a rapidly changing world.
The real educational revolution will not happen simply when every classroom has tablets with all the textbooks loaded on them. It will happen when we all accept this goal and begin to change the educational system according to it. It does not seem to be complicated, so we want to believe that change is just around the corner.