Thursday, September 15, 2016

Trends and challenges on the horizon

The NMC Horizon Report Preview for 2016 K-12 is out.  I've read it through and there are few surprises.  This post is about the trends and challenges identified.

Long Term Trends (5+ years)
Redesigning Learning Spaces - to accommodate more active learning such as PBL and the Flipped Classroom.  The report predicts that as education moves away from teacher-centred settings to more hands-on scenarios, classrooms will start to resemble real-world work and social environments.
Rethinking How Schools Work - PBL and challenge-based learning also call for a move away from the traditional classroom to enable students to move from one learning activity to another across disciplines.  Schedules will also become more flexible.

Mid-Term Trends (3-5 years)
Collaborative Learning - based on the idea of learning being a social construct.  Collaborative learning leads to improved student engagement and achievement.  Teachers also benefit from interdisciplinary teaching opportunities.  There is more of a focus on online global collabortaion using digital tools to support intercultural understanding.
Shifts to Deeper Learning - including critical thinking, real-world problem-solving, collaboration and self-directed learning.

Short-Term Trends (1-2 years)
Coding as a Literacy - coding is being integrated into the curriculum to promote complex thinking at a young age.  Students in many schools are now designing websites and developing educational games and apps.
Shift from Consumers to Creators - students are learning by making and creating - there is more active, hands-on learning.

The report identifies challenges that are easy to solve and those that are more difficult.  Among the easy to solve challenges are creating authentic learning opportunities, bringing real-life experiences into the classroom, and rethinking the roles of teachers so that students can continue learning beyond the traditional school day.  Challenges that are not easy to solve include the digital divide which is not just about access but also about differences in the training and curriculum design support offered to teachers.  Scaling teacher innovation is also seen as difficult - K-12 education is still restrictive for innovation, limiting the diffusion of new ideas and discouraging experimentation.  The achievement gap is seen as a significant challenge, even though technology is playing a greater role in identifying lower performing students.  Personalized learning is not adequately supported, though advances such as online learning and adaptive technologies do make it possible to support a student's individual learning path.

Developments in Educational Technology
Time to adoption less than 1 year:  Makerspaces where people are open to experiment, iterate and create, and online learning, often complementing face-to face instruction (blended learning approaches).
Time to adoption 2-3 years: Robotics and virtual reality such as the Oculus Rift that make learning simulations more authentic for students.
Time to adoption 4-5 years: Artificial Intelligence which can enhance online learning, adaptive learning software and simulations that more intuitively respond to and engage with students, and Wearable Tech which will be able to track aspirations and when they can be accomplished.

Photo taken at Juhu Beach

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