Emerging Trends in Modern Education

There is no debate that the world we live in is changing rapidly. Instead of newspapers, there has been a shift to people turning to online videos to see what is happening, both domestically and across the globe. Rather than driving to the local book store to buy the newest release from a favorite author, we may be more inclined to simply download the online copy for free. New applications for phones, tablets, and computers alike are being generated constantly to make our lives easier, more readily supply us with information, or provide us with a source of entertainment. All of these recent changes can be attributed to the technological leaps and bounds being made by tech corporations and modern innovators. Though many fields of study and numerous industries are affected by these advances, one field in particular that is impacted by this the most is education. In modern education, specifically, there are pioneering programs seeking to prepare students for the challenges they will face in this ever-changing world.

Chief among these trends in modern education are digital literacy curricula,(1) which seeks to give students the most basic and essential skills they will need to operate in the present and future working world. These new skills and abilities are being implemented at the most basic level in primary and secondary schools through Bring Your Own Device policies(2) or programs to teach internet safety when it comes to using social media apps like Twitter, Snapchat, or Pinterest.(3) We are also seeing more and more education-related apps that cater to each students’ personal interests too, such as the MIT App Inventor,(4) which is an app that gives students the power and tools to create their own mobile app! These are but a few of the sorts of up-and-coming technological opportunities becoming prevalent in schools across the nation.

Throughout history, libraries have always been hubs for knowledge, but they are now also becoming spaces that foster digital literacy as well. What we as children knew as librarians now have a secondary function as “library media specialists,”(5) the chief intermediary between students and the knowledge they seek. Whether in print or online, modern-day librarians are now acting as students’ facilitators when they might be unfamiliar with how to find the right resources. This may involve finding alphabetically ordered books by use of the Dewey Decimal System as it always has, but it now also requires them to help students learn to optimize their online searches as well.(6) In this way, they are able to empower students to develop their own vital critical thinking and research skills by giving them personalized attention that they might not receive in the classroom.(7) A library is one of the most rudimentary elements of education, and it holds the potential to unlock the door to the inevitable technologically-focused future.

Collaborative learning techniques have also come to the forefront as phone and computer applications make it easy to work in conjunction with one’s peers.(8) At Starts with Soap we rely heavily on Google Drive for sharing documents with one another, and this mirrors the way similar platforms are used in the educational and corporate worlds for learning, teaching, and cooperating. Many school districts, colleges, and universities are implementing similar collaboratory styled systems to give their students the ability to work together. Another example of technology’s role in collaborative learning is the use of apps like Kahoot! that educators may incorporate directly into classroom activities in the form of quizzes or games. Kahoot! is a game-based platform that aims to make learning fun for students, and helps them to retain the information used during the activity. The shift from traditional teaching styles to interactive style learning can be seen clearly through the access to educational games such as this.

Further, something that I thought might be worth mentioning is the increased prevalence of platforms that allow for self-direction education and professional development. Websites such as Khan Academy and Udemy have the purpose to provide easy-access to educational materials and short courses that open the door for students to continue their learning outside of the classroom. Even some YouTube channels publish videos that teach entire classes and subjects like AP microeconomics or even just individual lessons on biochemistry concepts. Another website called Lynda teaches different software and business skills to help individuals develop professionally as well. Even further than these concepts, most college degrees can be earned online depending on the institution. Softwares and websites like those aforementioned are revolutionary in how modern education and professional development will be now, and for years into the future.

In short, there are so many novel ideas and approaches entering into the world of education that it is hard to keep up with the latest innovation. Technology has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for people, young and old, to develop the necessary skills to enter the working world, to engage in the opportunities available to them, and to collaborate with peers and colleagues. Traditional learning has many advantages, but the shift towards technology, innovation, and modern collaboration are unparalleled. Thus, it is also necessary that educational institutions not only employ these new methods, but also teach digital literacy and responsibility to best prepare students for the changing road ahead of them.

References
  1. Freiberger, S. (2017, July 16) 5 Emerging Trends in 21st-Century Education. Getting Smart, Retrieved from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/07/5-emerging-trends-in-21st-century-education/
  2. Crowley, B. (2014, October 29) What Digital Literacy Looks Like in a Classroom. Education Week, Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/10/29/ctq_crowley_digitalliteracy.html
  3. Kourkounis, E. (2014, October 20) Hillsborough schools begin teaching kids to cope with life online. Tampa Bay Online, Retrieved from http://tbo.com/news/education/hillsborough-schools-begin-teaching-kids-to-cope-with-life-online-20141019/
  4. Freiberger, op. cit. (2017).
  5. Freiberger, op. cit. (2017).
  6. Itworx. (2015, March 10) 8 Ways in which School Librarians are Becoming Digital Media Specialists. Retrieved from http://itworx.education/2015/03/10/8-ways-in-which-school-librarians-are-becoming-digital-media-specialists/
  7. Weil E. Meet Your New School Library Media Specialist. Scholastic Administrator, Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3748779
  8. Freiberger, op. cit. (2017).