As education changes, so does the classroom. Classrooms today bear less and less resemblance to the traditional model involving a teacher’s desk, a blackboard, and a number of individual desks where students would listen to lectures and do their work.
With interactive whiteboards, mobile devices at every student’s disposal, and field trips into virtual reality, it is clear that the classroom is not what it used to be. The innovations are not just superficial: technology may have brought a revolution in the way the classroom looks like, but that is not – and should not be – all that has changed. Education is changing because the world is changing: letting students use IT devices is only a small fraction of what a school can do to call itself truly innovative and effective in preparing them for their future lives and careers. Change does not come only in the form of new equipment: it involves what topics are discussed in class, how and why.
That is why Google for Education has partnered with a global team of researchers and analysts to produce a report on the recent trends that are turning our classrooms into something new: who better than people who work in and for classrooms every day to keep an eye on where education is going?
Edu Trends: Less theory, more practice
Research has shown that both guardians and teachers are pushing for an educational model that prepares students for more than standardised testing. The adults in charge are clearly working towards one common goal: making sure the younger generation is ready for the real world, where their tasks will not include acing multiple-choice quizzes, but facing greater challenges with long-lasting consequences.
This model takes many forms: promoting a safe, healthy relationship with the latest technologies and appropriate online behaviour, educating both teachers and students about the benefits and risks of having an online presence; focusing the curriculum on the subjects that will be most wanted on the job market, namely science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are sure to open a variety of career paths for students, many of which do not exist at the moment, but will be in demand by the time they finish their education; adopting a problem-solving approach to classwork and teaching coding and computational thinking earlier, better, and as a mode of thinking that is valid across the board rather than a subject of its own; integrating social and vocational skills into the topics covered at school instead of concentrating exclusively on memorising information, so that students enter the job market not as inexperienced young people who have learnt plenty of facts and figures but very little practical abilities, but as well-rounded, socially and emotionally aware human beings with marketable skills. In short, education is becoming less theoretical and more practical: a student’s duty is not to be able to answer questions correctly, but to perform real tasks that will be useful beyond their school years, and schools are increasingly being given the mission to teach life skills that used to be the purview of families rather than teachers.
The future of classroom: Connecting people, not computers
Although the importance of technology in the classroom is growing, not just in quantity, but in quality – emerging technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence are flanking educators more and more often –, people involved in education do not want to lose sight of the human factor: using technology is not just about creating connections between machines, it is about using those machines to create connections between people. Teachers, parents, and of course the students themselves are all aware of this: everyone wants to be directly involved in the unique, complex process that is education. Teachers have expressed a wish to go back to the roots of their profession and maximise the time they devote to teaching and innovating their pedagogical practices; guardians want to have a say in how their children are educated and use technology to stay connected to their schools and updated on their progress; students are exercising their right to learn what they want and steer their learning in the direction they desire, and even the design of the classroom is becoming more geared towards teamwork and collaboration than individual work.
Visit Google for Education website to explore their vision about the future of classroom and get the global report of this research!