Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. – Desmond Tutu
As a scientist, I am constantly beguiled by trends. I constantly use them to make predictions and also determine which way my work should lean towards. In education of late, I have seen four recent trends and while this is normally done at the end of a year or towards the beginning of a new year, I decided to go off the beaten path and considered having a mental deconstruction of such novel trends, as we draw to the close of the first quarter of 2018.
Through my research, I have noticed that K–12 education is already being redefined and this is something to be taken seriously in our clime locally. Some of these include:
Trend 1: Paper-based textbooks are vanishing
Of late, I looked around and noticed at an educational technological summit that most of the exhibitors in the ed-tech space had some type of tablet gizmo or the other that had textbooks and etc. on them. This makes it obvious that textbooks will soon be gone. I foresee textbooks being replaced by these tablets all around, and the paper-based textbook industry will have to cut their losses, and regroup towards putting out digital content.
Reflection: This is a great concern for our students in Nigeria still largely hooked on paper-based textbooks, albeit old ones whose content are even outdated and irrelevant for the time in which we live. How do we make this transition to this watershed development, like the rest of the world is doing?
Trend 2: Digital curricula is rising
There is an increasing demand for teachers to have on request curriculum to help in creating engaging content. The digital curriculum industry is emerging. For example open resource marketplaces (e.g., gooru, Edmodo, CK12) continue to expand (Amazon is about to open Inspire), while organisations that provide such curricula are beginning to broaden their strides (e.g., EngageNY, Open Up).
Reflection: This is a development that needs to be addressed head on; learning is going digital and efforts need to be made in Nigeria to enable our students join this revolution.
Trend 3: Ready access to a computing device is the new normal
In most classes in the U.S. and in the U.K., it is normal for there to be a “1-to-1” — a classroom where each student has his/her own computing device. There have also been definitive, meta-studies (a study of other studies) that find solid experimental evidence for the noteworthy benefits of student achievement in “appropriate” 1-to-1 classrooms. (“Appropriate” means that proper curriculum, instruction, and time-on-task, etc., are employed. This is no surprise, as 1-to-1 has revealed to be evidently impactful!)
Project Tomorrow, an organization that has been collecting national (and international) data on technology in education since 2004 published a list of “Ten Things Everyone Should Know about K–12 Students’ Digital Learning.” Two “things” are critical here:
No. 2: Students of today are truly hooked on mobile technology: Personal access to mobile devices has reached significant strides, with over 80 percent of teenagers using smartphones now;
No. 10: Goodbye 1-to-1! Different tasks are equal to different tools! Laptops top students’ list for writing reports, taking online tests and working on group projects. Smartphones are number one for connecting with classmates and accessing social media.
Reflection: The smartphone revolution took Nigeria by surprise, even if I do see a lot of good coming from it though. However, each smartphone is the equivalent of a computer these days; they perform most of the same tasks and students can be taught to use them effectively. It is easier for students to gain access to a smartphone than a laptop or desktop computer in low income areas.
Trend 4: integrating emotions in learning (neuroscience and education)
There is presently a noticeable interest in neuroscience. The purpose of this specialty is to guide education professionals in designing more suitable instructional models that allow for a more well-adjusted development of the brain of children and adolescents, attending to the cognitive, emotional and social.
Neuroscience teaches us that: “A good emotional adaptability is essential to properly control and integrate learning processes.” As such, there is more focus on teaching problem solving, in decision making, thinking critically and going beyond just increasing knowledge or information.
Reflection: Over and again, I realize that holistic education is the ultimate goal, and neuroscience is a great enabler of this. Our goal should be to produce students who are well balanced and add value to society.
Despite everything, these trends also give me hope that although we have a long way to catch up with the world, by taking determined steps, we can equip students who can compete in the global space.
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.