New classrooms of the future

EducationWorld December 2020 | Teacher-2-teacher

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Students are the leaders of tomorrow. They need to be empowered by new technologies-enabled learning systems that will shape them into competent, confident and proactive adults

Rajiv Bansal, Director-Operations, Global Indian International School (GIIS) India

Rapid technological advancement stimulated by the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic has spurred the evolution of education faster than ever before. With machine learning and artificial intelligence influencing every dimension of future workplaces, it is imperative that we equip students with the appropriate competencies to cope with challenges of the future. This is the motive force driving educators to ideate and implement advanced pedagogies that will transform K-12 education and prepare students for careers that don’t exist today. The Survey of Formal Education 2021 of the Unesco Institute of Statistics, an initiative aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, will soon provide us with a clearer picture of what to expect in the near future. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some new developments that will redefine education in 2021.

The advent of integrated learning solutions. The adoption of unconventional pedagogies does not warrant discarding traditional curriculums. Instead, the objective should be to upscale existing academics with innovative learning tools. This is best exemplified with new-age blended and flipped learning pedagogies that enable students to access audio and video lectures at home, followed by active discussions on course material with teachers and peers inside school classrooms.

Classrooms equipped with wi-fi connectivity and smartboards are ideal for such learning systems, where students can freely exchange ideas and gain deeper insight into subjects. Recently, as part of a pilot project of the ministry of education of the UAE, 20 schools across the emirates integrated VR (virtual reality) headsets into their classrooms. The objective is to enable students to experience and learn about places that would be difficult to visit in real life, including underwater exploration, space tours, or walks through historic sites.

Personalised learning the new norm. Integration of digital tools into teaching-learning has also conferred the advantage of enabling study from any place, any time. Its value has been proven recently as the Coronavirus pandemic has validated the success of virtual classrooms. Students continue to make the most of online and offline learning modules as they pursue their lessons from the safety of their homes.

Such personalised learning also greatly benefits students who lag behind in certain subjects. They can now work on their shortcomings through self-paced learning. For instance, a student can rewatch a video lesson any number of times to get a grasp of it. Such tech-enabled lessons have an edge over conventional classrooms, where teachers can give limited attention to every student.

Greater focus on Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence can be defined as an extension of human understanding of the world. Just like our brains, AI is self-evolving, able to adapt to its surrounding environment.

AI-based solutions are hyper-personalised to students’ levels of knowledge and engineered to provide customised courses and evaluations to enhance their capabilities. For instance, a student can use AI as a virtual personal tutor that devises precise strategies to enhance understanding of a particular subject. In Singapore, education institutions have consistently been making use of AI technologies to track students’ progress, assess shortcomings, and enable them to bridge their learning gaps.

Constant skill-building of teachers. From Montessori to post-doctoral education, the forthcoming decade will witness a paradigm shift in teaching-learning systems. To manage such pervasive transformation, it will be critical for teachers to remain abreast of changing times. She must be constantly on the lookout for acquiring new skill-sets and technical knowledge to ensure that her students receive all the benefits of modern, 21st-century knowledge transmission and tech-enabled classrooms. Therefore, educators must regularly participate in workshops and training programmes to learn about new pedagogies, their application, digital content creation and research of novel frameworks that amplify student engagement and improve learning outcomes.

Progressive schools aware of the need for continuous capacity building, have introduced special learning management systems and training programmes to enable teachers to study new pedagogies, systems and technologies and teach students to utilise online and offline platforms while simultaneously enabling teachers to continue their own professional development at their convenience.

As we enter the year 2021, these trends are expected to set the wheels in motion for the education sector and allied industries. The emerging new world is beyond the realm of imagination and teachers have to enable children to discover their multiple intelligences to succeed in the volatile, uncertain and complex world evolving rapidly. Students are leaders of tomorrow. They need to be empowered by new technologies-enabled learning systems that will shape them into competent, confident, and proactive adults ready to chart the course for our future.

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