Which education trends are capturing the collective imagination this year? Spoiler alert: It’s not just technology changing the classroom environment. Here are seven trends you’re likely to see more of in the year ahead.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Experts estimate that the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will grow by 50% in the next few years. AI enables computer systems to perform jobs normally requiring humans. Things like speech recognition, language translation, and decision-making now can be performed with AI. With these and other capabilities, AI will be transforming the education landscape in the future. While arguably the best practice of AI is as a teacher support tool, proponents suggest that it may help solve teacher shortages. AI is already being used for blended and personalized learning, and could be useful in helping to alleviate problems like overcrowded classrooms.
2. Virtual Reality (VR)
The magic of virtual reality is that it opens the world and removes limitations such as the constraints of the physical classroom. Imagine teaching American History by visiting the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774… holding biology class on the Galapagos Islands… or studying Pride and Prejudice in 1813 England. With virtual reality, teachers can create any environment, anywhere, right in the classroom, leading to stronger participation and a deeper, more personal understanding of the material. Virtual reality has the potential to revolutionize the classroom by making it a time-traveling laboratory.
Mentioned in The Impact of Learning Spaces in Student Success Report, “Teachers across the country overwhelmingly agree that creative learning spaces play an important role in student engagement,” said Melissa Pelletier, MDR education research editor and an author of the study. “Companies who work with schools will gain valuable insights into what teachers believe creates learning environments that encourage all students to collaborate, develop critical thinking skills, and achieve their highest potential.” The report found that, among teachers who indicated space had a high impact on learning, more than 40 percent believed that a positive environment was conducive to learning and better performance. Nearly three-quarters of educators surveyed believed their classroom environment is conducive to 21st-century learning, including collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem solving.
Blockchain technology is a public, permanent, shared database used to compile, connect house and encrypt digital data. With blockchain, information is not centralized in any one location. The publicly accessible, easily tracked, and verifiable nature of the blockchain makes records extremely difficult to corrupt. This is a potential game-changer for personal information. Student performance records, transcripts, identity management, and data management and security are just a few of the many application options of blockchain in schools.
4. Students as Change Agents
Within one week of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in February 2018, MSD students mobilized on social media and in the community to advance the conversation about school safety and gun control legislation. At the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference, a 16-year-old student from Sweden addressed a contingent of wealthy corporate and celebrity activists gathered and received a standing ovation for her talk about climate change. Student activism is on the rise and is gaining widespread attention from educators, parents, the media, and the public. Generation Z, with their innate command of social channels, are building communities around issues and gaining traction for their causes. They are getting attention and making positive social change. Look for more young people to follow their lead.
Gamification uses game design and mechanics to enhance learning by increasing participation, engagement, loyalty, and competition. It also enables providers to align games to standards and create prompts based on student usage and responses to problems, ultimately helping teachers to predict student outcomes. Game-like activities which would include some type of point or scoring system, often with rewards, can be applied to make learning more interactive. Gamification helps teachers introduce an element of fun into lessons, leading to more participatory, and ultimately, more memorable classroom experiences. This isn’t new as a concept, but this year we expect more school to adopt these programs.
6. Dynamic Mindfulness
It seems everyone is stressed out these days, and kids are not immune. Behavioral and emotional disorders have become near-epidemics. Anxiety, ADHD, depression, and other conditions are being diagnosed more frequently, and at an earlier age, than ever before.
Schools have started using mindfulness to counter the overwhelming levels of anxiety and distraction they’re seeing, setting the tone for more focused, participatory learning. Mindfulness, a very simple form of meditation, has been proven to increase calm, reduce depression, and help combat anxiety associated with our increasingly busy, stressful lives. Schools are integrating mindfulness with daily meditations and calming techniques, designed to settle the students and shift their focus away from worry and distraction to being present in the practice of learning.
7. Restorative Justice
Restorative justice, a facet of social emotional learning (SEL), has been around a long time but is growing in popularity in schools. Traditionally, when students break rules, punishment has been used to deter future offenses. But more and more schools are taking a different, problem-solving approach toward discipline. Restorative justice practice involves a dialogue between the student, teachers, administration, and any victim(s) to come to a decision about how to repair the wrong. This approach helps students understand the consequences of their actions and why the rules exist, drives toward more equitable outcomes, and builds community. In a soon to be released study, we share more about how schools are implementing SEL.
In 2018 we released three reports that talk about these very topics. Enjoy a 5% discount when you buy the bundle. We look forward to seeing the ways that teachers will use emerging technologies and interpersonal dynamics to break down physical and emotional barriers for their students, in turn helping students to have a positive impact in their schools and communities.