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The Future of Education
February 26, 2015 | Volume 10 | Issue 12
Table of Contents
Five Trends That Are Transforming Education
In our rapidly changing world, how a school responds to emerging trends often determines that school's future. At the International Center for Leadership in Education, we find and analyze the nation's most rapidly improving schools so that we can learn about—and showcase—what makes these schools flourish. Through this work, we have identified five transformative trends that are changing the face of education.
Impact of Digital Learning
Today's learners are digital natives—yet they come to school and power down their devices. As educators, we need to embrace the power of technology to make learning relevant for all students and adults. Using technology thoughtfully for instructional purposes will allow us to stretch learners' thinking in ways that will lead to success in today's increasingly global economy and rapidly evolving digital environment. Blended learning and microcredentialing are key areas to consider.
Microcredentialing, which often takes the form of digital badging or certificates, provides public recognition of incremental achievements connected to learning. Learners can earn these verifiable credentials by completing an online course or lesson, engaging in professional learning activities, sharing portfolio artifacts, or providing other evidence of mastery. Not only does microcredentialing shift the focus of academic work from seat-time to mastery, it also provides concrete, transportable evidence of marketable skills. In the future, people may carry their "digital backpacks" or online portfolios with them throughout their lives, as a means of demonstrating skills and knowledge.
Heightened Demand for Career Readiness
Preparing a young person for career success today requires a different set of academic skills and knowledge than what is traditionally taught in schools. Thirty-six percent of employers surveyed in the 2014 Manpower Talent Shortage Survey reported a talent shortage. Specifically, they have trouble filling positions because candidates lack both hard and soft skills. We are facing a skills gap. The growing tier of upper-level jobs requires increasingly sophisticated skills and the competencies of a lifelong learner in a technological, information-based environment. Career academies, internships and externships, and rigorous, relevant curricula are critical to helping students survive and thrive in this new professional context.
Increased Emphasis on Application-Based Learning
Relevance drives both student learning and the rigor of that learning. When students are deeply engaged in content that relates to their lives and interests, rigor becomes possible. In excellent schools around the country (such as Daniel Hale Williams Public School 307, The Magnet School for STEM Studies in Brooklyn, New York and Neptune High School in New Jersey), an emphasis on learning through application is transforming how students acquire knowledge and skills. Project-based learning, game-based learning, and high-rigor, high-relevance lesson designs represent a shift from a content-delivery model of schooling to a model that focuses on using knowledge and skills in meaningful and authentic ways.
Use of Data Analysis to Implement Growth Models
American schools are data rich but analysis poor. We have volumes of data but we have not learned how to introduce and monitor effective interventions based on that data. As we develop more sophisticated assessments and use technology in more robust ways, we will see an explosion in the use of data for both formative and summative purposes.
Rapidly improving schools have used data analysis to shift to a continuous improvement model for every student. Schools evaluate students based on individual improvement, rather than by comparison across a group. When implemented effectively, this creates a growth-mindset culture across a school, where each student is appropriately and consistently challenged.
Developing Personal Skills
We know that there is more to life than the core subjects of math, science, English language arts, and social studies. Personal and interpersonal skills—such as responsibility, self-management, integrity, honesty, collaboration, and leadership—are critical for success in college, career, and life. Strong schools build these skills into their curricula and create educational cultures and relationships that value more than just academics (such as South Heights Elementary School in Kentucky and Bettendorf High School in Iowa).
Technological, social, and economic changes in society are driving the need for profound shifts in how we educate our children. Rather than resist these trends, highly effective and rapidly improving schools look closely at the needs and opportunities of the shifting landscape and then address these new realities with some of the intentional, proactive, and systemic ways outlined here.
Bill Daggett worked as a teacher and administrator at the secondary and postsecondary levels and as a director with the New York State Education Department. In 1991, he founded the International Center for Leadership in Education, which partners with schools and districts to make best practices and innovative approaches to instruction and leadership a reality in today's classrooms.
ASCD Express, Vol. 10, No. 12. Copyright 2015 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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