The world of education is constantly changing thanks to new technologies, new modes of instruction, and new ways of thinking about how to help students. Of course, in these rapidly evolving times, it is necessary for educators to continue to find ways to properly engage with their students and thereby create more effective learning environments. To do this, they must stay current with the latest trends and key factors that are having an impact on the education industry today. (1)
Technology and Online Learning
A lot has changed in the education industry even just within the past few years because of the pandemic, most notably how students attend classes. While remote learning is not completely replacing traditional in-school instruction anytime soon, it has provided another path for those with diverse needs and has emerged as a way to expand access to less-common courses. (2) While there have certainly been many negative outcomes resulting from the pandemic, other positive changes in education have included increased mental health services at schools and greater internet connectivity.
Without a doubt, the technology available to instructors and students has come a long way. For example, educators are now utilizing augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance learning by displaying virtual 3-D models on 2-D spaces. Educators, particularly those in science and engineering, are now able to make interactive presentations and models without the tedious work of creating physical models. This allows users to experience the same conditions as they would in a real-world setting. (3)
Advances in technology have also made online academies popular because of the real-time and interactive atmosphere that they provide. Thanks to multimedia technologies such as live-streaming and videoconferencing, students can now complete their courses entirely online. Plus, students and teachers can interact and hold discussions in a classroom-like environment over the internet, something that became essential during the pandemic. (4)
Changes in Teaching
The growth of technology has also changed how teachers relate to their students and their classrooms. Students have so much information readily available at their fingertips that many of them now value less of a top-down delivery method. This has resulted in teachers functioning more in a facilitative role in which they help students understand how to learn, to love learning, and how to uncover and understand the information they find. (5)
Additionally, a shift toward more personalized, self-paced, and self-directed learning is another reason why educators may change from content deliverers to facilitators. This would allow education to become more flexible and paced to suit the needs of each student. The future of education may also call for more bite-sized learning, as a new study by Microsoft shows that humans now have an attention span of around eight seconds (less than that of a goldfish). (6)
A year after holding a virtual commencement ceremony due to the pandemic, a small college wanted to provide goodie bags to encourage graduating students to attend the in-person ceremony taking place that year. One of the items they ordered for the bags was the #45791 Poly-Clean® Bottle – 27 oz. In their responses to the graduation follow-up survey, many students remarked how much they appreciated the goodie bags, particularly the water bottle, which they were excited to use every day whether they were going to the gym or heading into the office at their new job.
Lessons to Be Learned
By staying up to date with the latest technology and trends, educators will be well positioned to meet the needs of their students in a rapidly changing industry and society. As the educational sector continues to evolve with the times and technology and we discover new ways to educate, one thing has become obvious: there is always something new to learn.
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