Although technology has fast influenced most sectors of our world, education is an area that’s lagged behind. Many classrooms still employ the one-to-many lecturing model wherein the average student is catered for while a few are left behind, and others bored. Recently, there’s been a drive to uncover how to use technology successfully for higher teacher and student fulfilment, encouraging greater engagement and success, and experts in educational innovation have offered predictions of five significant changes to be seen over the next five years.
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Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, notes the lack of change in classrooms over the years and points to the ease and efficiency technology offers as a prime reason behind this. Says Williams, “I’m not talking about having computers in classrooms, but rather a lack of any seismic shift in the way things are done because technology is making the work easier or more efficient.” Williams believes, however, that education technology will encourage individualized instruction for students. Says Hadley Ferguson, executive director of the Edcamp Foundation, “[Kids can] reach out beyond the walls of their classrooms to interact with other students, other teachers, and renowned authors, scientists, and experts to enhance their learning,”
Accomplished Teachers are Key
Instead of equipping schools with the latest and greatest tech, experts believe that the needs of education should drive the use of technology, and education technology must find innovative ways to complement learning. Though access to the internet can provide greater access to educational tools, this alone won’t fulfill all, or even most, educational requirements for any country. CEO of General Assembly, Jake Schwartz, maintains the importance of the human factor.
The sustainability of tuition-dependent institutions is being threatened by the combination of crippling student debt and pressure to reduce tuition costs. Schwartz states, “This will help to force an innovation drive with an unbundling of degree offerings. The sector will see a shift towards more relevant competency-based programs and aggressive competition for students.” Higher educators need to come up with creative ways of training the up-and-coming workforce, and technology may be the key that helps students switch from rote learning models to competence-based systems that provide capable and proficient graduates.
Respecting the Student’s Voice
Though students are in essence the customers of their relevant learning institution, education is traditionally an autocratic environment. Technology may have a part to play in the evolution of this paradigm. Kirsten Saenz Tobey, co-founder of Revolution Foods, believes that engaging and respecting students and their families could drive a new focus, with technology guiding the campaign.
Learning to Adapt
By 2100, the majority of the world’s population with be living in Africa, China, or India. Remarks Shannon May, co-founder of Bridge International Academies, “Global policy leadership and sales of education goods and services will be shaped less by issues and needs in the U.S., and more by the issues and needs of Africa, South Asia, and China. Market demand, and pressing policy issues related to urbanization and population growth, will shift the center of gravity of education provision.” Though education is starting to change, the process is slow, and Schwartz believes that content and curriculums will not be the differentiators of the future, but rather how well sophisticated offerings are coordinated into useful packages for students and graduates.
By Jennifer Klostermann