Teaching is consistently changing. Its flexibility and fluidity as a profession is what makes it both appealing as a career and crucial to the education of young people. Teaching can never stand still, because each generation of students that comes up the ranks are different and individual. 2020 saw teaching alter dramatically, with our educators embarking on the upheaval of a lifetime. However, the tide is still turning. What teaching trends should we be looking out for this year?
- Online Learning
- Project-based Learning
- Twilight Insets
- Catching Up
- Focus on Wellbeing
- Experiential Learning
- Digital Devices
- Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
Obviously, online learning
An obvious one to begin with. We have already seen classrooms become digital as a necessity throughout the pandemic. Life when learning went from college-based to screen-based in a matter of months. However, was this a change that was already on the uprise? Digital learning has both its benefits and negatives, but the possibilities of distance learning and remote access for those who cannot has opened doors to learning for many. Will it simply disappear once the threat of Covid-19 has eased, and our students remain in college? Quite possibly not.
Gamification is growing
Another trend that has already embedded itself into learning – and has been a trick of the trade since the digital age began. Using online educational gaming platforms such as Quizizz and Kahoot have made learning technologically fun and engaging. Accepting the fact that we live in an age of smartphones and TikTok, the phrase “if you can’t beat them, join them” comes to mind. Although not a tactic for all, bringing fun and a change of pace into the classroom could significantly improve engagement.
Moving forward into microlearning
The new modern-day approach to learning? It comes as no surprise to see children (and adults) suffer a decline in attention-spans. In a world of notifications, messages and pop-ups flying all over the place, there is no wonder we are all distracted. However, this does negatively impact people’s ability to retain information and focus for long periods of time. So, what’s the answer? Micro (or nano) learning, where lessons are broken down into a series of bite-sized activities and a ‘nugget’ of information is embedded.
Making progress with projects
Learning by doing, who’d have thunk it? This teaching technique could be on the rise due to the general feeling of stagnation after sitting behind the screen for so long. A method that provides communication skills, collaboration, critical-thinking and creativity – it’s a no brainer for adding variety to the classroom. It could also be the answer to instil a sense of independence back into their learning. Working together, researching a topic, and delivering a strong presentation are all skills required for work – why not learn them now?
The new inset day
Moving away from the traditional inset day, many colleges have introduced twilight sessions: up to 90-minute courses held after college. However, they’ve maintained the inset day as a wellbeing day, incorporating a focus on mental health to allow teachers the time to step away from the screens and the stress and doing something else. Some colleges have gone digital, enabling these training sessions to be available on demand online, giving teachers a selection of sessions to choose from and the flexibility to attend them over the course of a term.
Catching up after Covid
A topic on every teacher’s mind at the moment – bridging the gap after lockdown. Even though our educators did everything they could to ensure young people continued to receive the education they deserved, it didn’t stop results dwindling and students feeling the struggle upon returning to the classroom. A continuing trend for 2021 will be a focus on supporting students to ‘catch up’ in the hopes that returning to the classroom and government funding will be enough to bridge that gap.
A focus on wellbeing
The mental health and wellbeing of students and teachers alike is an ongoing conversation that should never stop. Feeling overworked, stressed and suffering from screen fatigue, the pressure on teachers is higher than ever, and our young people are finding their feet through a historical moment they’d never experienced before, or ever thought they would. A focus on wellbeing has to be more than just a trend, but a continuous priority within education.
Experiencing experiential learning
Immersing students in real-life situations could be the answer to the increased disengagement we’ve been seeing over the past few years. This trajectory is not only linked to the change in structure over the course of the pandemic, but also the introduction of the techno-age. Get students away from the screens and out in the real world, collecting data, working together, and finding solutions for real-life situations. Instead of zoning out, let’s hone in on their teamwork, planning and decision-making skills with experiential learning making a comeback.
A deluge of digital devices
The trend of digital devices being incorporated into learning will be an ongoing feature. With fast access to online resources, classroom notes and homework information, will digital devices become a norm for all colleges in the future?
Switching up realities
This one honestly blows my mind. As part of the generation who grew up with AOL dial up and Nokia 3410s, the pace in which technology has developed over the past two decades is astonishing. The next step: virtual and augmented reality in classrooms. The ability to visualise environments – fictional or reality – that students would not normally be able to access can be an engaging and exciting educational tool. It could be the new approach to learning languages, virtual trips to museums and galleries and training for future careers. Although VR needs a headset and can be expensive, AR only needs a smartphone, so this new trend may not be as far away as we think.
About the author
After completing a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester, Tammy worked as a Learning Support Assistant, with a focus on helping students develop their literacy skills. She then taught as an English teacher at an all-boys comprehensive school in Berkshire. Now she has turned her sights to a career in writing, with education at the heart of it.