With a world of readily searchable knowledge at our fingertips, we don’t need to memorize facts any more. In fact, many things we traditionally learned at school might start to feel a little pointless in the digital age: handwriting, the rules of spelling and grammar, foreign languages.
But we will need new skills to help us manage the formidable tools at our disposal. We need to know how to interpret search results, critically assess the quality and veracity of information and make ethical judgements about how to use it, and we’ll need to think creatively to come up with solutions to increasingly complex global problems.
In the future, work will be structured around projects, not processes. That’s an important trend in education too.
“Active” or “problem-based” learning seeks to engage students’ natural curiosity, rather than simply presenting them with information. “That’s the big shift in the way we’re teaching: we’re starting to mix things up,” says John Holm at SocioDesign. “Instead of just saying ‘here’s stuff to remember’, it says ‘here’s a problem to solve’ and the students get involved in that problem.”
That means blurring traditional curriculum boundaries. Instead of splitting learning into different subjects, topics are taught in a more holistic, real-world way — so a lesson on the Vikings might include learning about history or geography, writing stories or working in a group to design and build a boat.
This is “phenomenon-based learning”. It emphasizes skills such as communication, creativity and critical thinking, and better prepares students to apply their knowledge in the 21st-century workplace.
In this new world, the teacher plays a very different role. Today’s students are the first generation to have grown up with the internet, and the first to be educated by it. For both students and teachers, this new learning journey is uncharted territory. So how can the teacher lead?
Next-generation learning spaces will be ‘flipped’.
The teacher-as-meddler doesn’t need to stand at the front of the class to impart their wisdom, and students don’t come to class just to listen. So, they don’t need to sit in rows facing the front. And why do we even need a “front”?
In the education system of the future, homework will happen before the lesson. “Teachers can record structured content for you to absorb at your own pace,” says John Holm at SocioDesign. “Then when you come into the classroom, they can help you solve the problem.”
This is the “flipped” classroom. It’s bigger: Holm says that traditional desks in rows allowed around 1m2 per student. In an active learning space, that rises to 3m2. And it’s totally wired: multiple monitors allow students to review course materials and look things up on the internet as an intrinsic part of the classroom experience. This combination of traditional teaching and online media is called “blended learning”.
Schools and universities will need a much wider variety of places for learning — from spaces where large groups can work together to secluded corners for concentration, and everything in between.
(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in The Possible. The original article can be found at https://www.the-possible.com/future-of-education-digital-campus-learning-teaching/)