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The Most Popular and Innovative Education Trends in the Modern Age

They say that change is only what is constant in our lives, and that holds true now more than ever. We have been forced to adjust, overcome and adapt to the changing situation that the pandemic has brought upon us. The use and innovation in the digital and technological fields have shot up sky high, and our means of communication have changed. The advent of the internet and its constantly changing innovations have changed every aspect of our lives. One industry that hasn’t just undergone a major change, but also driven other domains to change is that of education. When we think of it, be it the development of economies or the digital transformation, all domains depend on new inventions, which itself is the outcome of extensive research and study. Hence, education is one of the most pivotal areas where change is taking place. With the new age comes new education trends.

What’s happening in the education sector?

Our classrooms and methods of teaching are forever evolving and upgrading with each passing year. Upgrades are required to keep up with the changing trends of the outside world. From pedagogical methods to the subjects, the whole process of education has denoted a significant range of progress compared to the past few years.

The pandemic has boosted online learning.
The pandemic has boosted online learning. Credit@ courseera

With technological innovations come positive changes in every level of the education sector. Beginning from the primary classrooms to the university levels, newer teaching, research and reading materials have developed. As for the larger education sector, professional degrees reflect the changing tides of time and also future prospects.

EdTech and digital learning platforms have blown up over the past year. Huge investments and acquisitions have been made in education ideas. Students and parents have explored these new offerings, while schools may also collaborate with these service providers to increase student learning. Changes in both our environment and technology make it mandatory for us to upgrade the courses and teaching methods. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a number of major developments have taken place in education, like online schooling, hybrid learning and the use of apps. And it is likely that the education field will continue to depend on technology in the foreseeable future. And with it comes its own set of challenges and developments. This blog explores what is trending in the education and teaching field in the present day and beyond.

Online schooling

Online learning has turned out to be the most popular educational trend for more than a year. Born more of out of necessity due to the pandemic, it has now become possible on a large scale, thanks to developments in EdTech. Owing to the pandemic, schools have been forced into experimenting more with online education.

What makes online learning popular? Online learning isn’t just cost-effective and flexible. Since it eliminates the concept of ‘location’, online education is accessible to a wider range of students. Hence, it also serves the purpose of breaking down a lot of barriers in the education field. Online education, thus, opens the doors of education to a wider range of students.

 Online education opens the doors of education to a wider range of students
Online education opens the doors of education to a wider range of students. Credit@ courseera

Online learning has opened the doors to blended learning too. For more than a year, educators and students have been forced to rely on technology. Since students and teachers have become more familiar and adept at using technology, it is a great time to bring technology into the classrooms too.

After a year marked with unprecedented change and uncertainty, we have had our eyes opened to the importance of social emotional learning (SEL). SEL skills are what enable us to organize ourselves, manage our relationships and emotions. Both students and adults alike benefit from the time spent on SEL, especially due to the emotional roller coaster the pandemic has taken us on. As a result, the education field is increasingly shifting its focus towards SEL, to create a safe and favorable learning environment for students. Also, it focuses on the creation of trusting relationships for learners.  

Nano learning

Along with technology comes a significant set of challenges and disadvantages. Online learning has led to an increase in screen fatigue and a decline in attention spans. When bombarded with distracting notifications and alerts day in and day out, our brain responds to these signals with an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. The result is that after spending a short time in front of the screen, we become physically unable to focus and process large amounts of data.

So how do we deal with this problem? The answer is through nano learning. Nano learning is, in a nutshell, a bite-sized learning solution. It is providing learners with information in smaller amounts over a short period of time. Learning like this, in short bursts, is a proven method of increasing our capacity to absorb and retain data. By providing students with smaller bits of information, educators are much more likely to help capture their attention, increase productivity and their ability to study.

In a classroom, the four keys for effective learning are

  • Identifying the students’ needs
  • Setting learning objectives
  • Choosing content such as apps, videos and podcasts
  • Keeping things short

Virtual reality and augmented reality

Technology has brought virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to the classrooms.

To experience immersive VR, we require a VR headset. With its digital interface, it has the ability to project images, thus creating a virtual or a real world that the users can see and interact with. Also included are easy-to-use teacher controls and gesture controls. Granted, VR headsets fall into the expensive category. But Google Cardboard and similar alternatives do offer a less expensive VR experience. The user just needs to insert their smartphone into the viewer.

 VR and AR technologies inspire students to think beyond the four walls of a classroom.
VR and AR technologies inspire students to think beyond the four walls of a classroom. Credit@ Online.com

On the other hand, AR can be accessed simply through a tablet or a smartphone. In a similar way to VR, the AR technology projects sound, videos and images using the device camera and displays them via the screen. But rather than immersing the viewer into another reality, these images are layered on top of what is seen on the camera. For example, Google search lets you see different animals in our environment. So, we could be looking at a panda sitting right next us at our desk. Engaging with digital technologies like VR and AR inspires students to think beyond the four walls of a classroom, or now, the four walls of their home.

How to incorporate AR and VR into the classroom

There are several ways of incorporating AR and VR into the classroom, like the ones listed below.

Field trips

Field trips are especially helpful for teaching art, history and geography, among others. VR takes the students on tours around the best museums, galleries and cities across the world, all without leaving the room.

Virtual careers

VR offers students tremendous opportunities to find out about different careers. It literally offers them first-hand experience by putting the student in another person’s shoes, thus helping them find out what it is like to work at different jobs.  

High-tech training

VR and AR provide high-tech training. This is especially useful for those who are thinking of pursuing a career in fields like medicine and the military. VR and AR technologies provide real life training. For example, it shows the students the anatomy of the body, inside out.

Language immersion

One of the best ways to learn a new language is to immerse oneself in it. VR immerses the learners in a foreign language. This is done by virtually placing the students right in the midst of a virtual world where they hear only their target language.

Project-based learning or experimental learning

Through experimental learning, students are thus offered first-hand experiences that requires them to practice decision making, planning, teamwork, problem solving and more
Through experimental learning, students are thus offered first-hand experiences that requires them to practice decision making, planning, teamwork, problem solving and more. Credit@ iStock

Student disengagement has increased exponentially. More often than not, teachers find the students on their cell phones either talking to their friends, on social media or simply zoning out. And nobody can blame them for doing so, since bombarding them with information through digital media can prove to be exhausting. One of the new and popular ways of tackling this is through experimental learning or project-based learning.

Now common in schools and universities all over the world, experimental learning involves immersing the learners in real-world situations. It is a method of teaching that actively engages the learners in real-life projects. The idea is ‘learn by doing.’ The teachers act as the hands-on facilitator. The aim is to make students respond and investigate an engaging, authentic and complex issue or question, stimulating their brains to work. The students are thus offered first-hand experiences that requires them to practice decision making, planning, teamwork, problem solving and more. Also, skills like creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration will be actively developed. All these skills are highly sought after by employers at this age and time.

Thus, the syllabus of schools and universities is application based, steering away from the mere learning of facts and figures. Instead, the syllabus goads the learners to apply the skills taught and learnt in real-life situations. With emphasis on both online and offline training, students are prepared to face real life tasks. This is a huge change from the traditional teaching-by-the-books method in the education sector. Students are trained in necessary skills that will help them navigate the world of work and also facilitate a capable and well-informed workforce in the days to come.

Online experimental activities that can be given to students

There are plenty of topics that can be given to the students for project-based learning. Examples include voicing their opinions on a popular debate, coming up with alternative energy resources, finding a solution to any environmental problem, analyzing photojournalism or photography, among others.

Collaborative exercises

Providing students with a debate or a problem and asking them to work in teams is a fruitful way of developing much-needed skills. They should be asked to come up with solutions or ideas to the topics given. Topics can range from mock business problems to philosophical debates, thus getting the students to think about a wide range of scenarios.

Role-playing

Getting students to act out in different imaginary scenarios teaches them how different behaviors or actions result in different outcomes.

Field work

Students are asked to step outside the four walls of the learning environment and collect information. Data gathering can thus be done online by preparing questionnaires and surveys. The resulting data and conclusion can be presented to the class.  

Technological upskilling across domains

While the world basically runs on technology in the modern age, technology and human labor are pitted against each other. This is mostly because of the fear that one day, technology might displace humans. However, it is unlikely, since technology is designed by humans to aid and support human labor. So, if any, both form an interdependent relationship with each other. So, the focus must be on adapting to the developments in technology that come our way.

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Professional courses that focus on building cloud-based technological skills have been developed. Credit@ Indianprint

That said, technological upskilling is now one of the dominant education trends. Many industries have headed towards workflow automation. But human interface is absolutely necessary for ensuring a smooth workflow. Hence, as more businesses and industries adopt cloud convergence, potential employees who are tech-savvy are sought out. They need to have up-to-date knowledge of the latest cloud technology.

So, to keep up with this, professional courses that focus on building cloud-based technological skills have been developed. To match the expectations of employers, technology training programs related to cloud-based technology and such are made available to students. Such programs are offered to the students both on campus and online-based educational endeavors.

Innovation in the subject matter

In today’s age, detailing is extremely important. On that note, another important education trend now is to capture a variety of subjects that are presently included in schools and universities. Artificial intelligence, applied linguistics, ethical hacking, food anthropology and cultural studies are some of the courses that are available now. These subjects are indeed revolutionary and out of the box in many ways. And more than that, such subjects are mandatory for assessing our present social, cultural and political situations of the world.

Education now is to capture a variety of subjects that are needed in the present age.
Education now is to capture a variety of subjects that are needed in the present age. Credit@ education

The course design and assessment modules are also structured to incorporate a practical outlook and not merely learning by memorization. Acknowledging that there is indeed a need and merit in studying non-mainstream subjects has led to the opening up of newer specializations within the professional sphere too.

Personalized and inclusive learning spaces

Education trends with more inclusive and accessible learning modules have become widespread. Now, special education modules aren’t just limited to special schools. Regular schools and universities have adopted inclusive learning facilities to provide a better and welcoming environment for students with disabilities. This also opens doors for them in their career of choice. The inclusion of such subjects also eliminates biases against specially-abled individuals.

Conclusion

The overall education trends in the past year have leaned more towards digitalization and technological transformation of learning and teaching methods. The education sector now has a lot more to offer to students and also to a much more diverse audience. This also boosts developments in professional fields.

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