Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What's on the horizon for schools in Europe?

After reading the Horizon Report on international schools in Asia a couple of weeks ago, today I turned my attention to European schools.  I've worked in both public and private schools in 3 European countries, and the likelihood is that at some point in the future I will return to work in Europe again.  I'm therefore very curious to know which trends and technologies are driving change in Europe and what are the challenges that need to be overcome.

The Horizon Report for Europe identifies 2 major trends as being imminent in schools in Europe:  the changing role of teachers as a result of technology and the impact of social media.  Further away (around 2-3 years from adoption) the focus will be on open educational resources and on the use of both traditional and virtual learning methods.  European schools see students' low digital competence as being a major challenge, in particular when it comes to actively participating in the design of learning activities.  The more widespread use of cloud and tablet computing, however, are seen as being the drivers of change.

The report identifies the rise of digital learning as being one factor that has called into question the traditional education paradigm of learning taking place face-to-face in the classroom.  More and more hybrid learning systems are growing in importance.  Already many teachers in Europe are participating in online communities using social media, where they are discussing more student-centred and hands-on learning.  The Horizon Report predicts that there will be a major transformation in the role of teachers in Europe over the coming 2 years.

A fast trend identified for European education is that students will increasingly use social media to connect with their peers for learning purposes.  Teachers will need to address issues around social media use with their students.  Teachers are already expected to be able to use technology to deliver content, support learners and conduct assessments, and related to this teachers have already changed the way that they are involved in professional development - using more social media and online tools for their own professional learning.  In fact throughout Europe the teacher's role is becoming more than of a mentor, working with individuals and groups during class while allowing students to have more control over their learning.  Teachers are also exploring ways of flipping their classrooms and finding different ways to use class time.

Although learning analytics seems to be around 2-3 years away from widespread use in schools in Asia, it is seen as being even further away in Europe - in fact the report identifies that data driven learning and assessment for European schools is at least 5 years away from large-scale use.  As I'm working at a school that does use data to inform decisions, and having seen the enormous impact that discussions about this data can have on student learning, I'm hoping that this trend will in fact pick up pace before I think about returning to Europe.

I was really interested to read this latest report and to think about the differences identified between schools in Europe and Asia.  To access a PDF of the 2014 NMC Horizon Report for Europe please click here.

Photo Credit: cemre via Compfight cc

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