In early life, education is one of the most important priorities. All parents will be acutely aware that ensuring their children get a comprehensive and high-quality education is of paramount importance. Put simply, the early stages of education help children with their mental development, logic skills, and communication. These skills and other forms of learning continue to be built upon as they advance from junior to senior school.
If they demonstrate the academic intelligence required to gain entry to college or university, they will be learning a more complex and in-depth curriculum in a specific subject. At this level of education, there’s an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills and researching information in a more independent form of learning.
Only a few decades ago, teaching methods were fairly uniform and required students to memorize information, retain key concepts, and demonstrate this knowledge when presented with tests or exams. A school blackboard was commonly used to deliver key concepts and demonstrate examples (i.e., by solving mathematical equations or asking students to complete a task that’s partially described).
In recent years, education has been transformed, and modern classrooms are now very different from their traditional counterparts. The use of technology in the classroom is more widespread and different teaching methods are being explored with a focus on collaboration and project work. In this article, some key examples of how school education is changing will be explored in detail.
Use of VR tech in classrooms
Virtual reality (VR) technology was initially aimed at the gaming and entertainment markets. By using VR headsets, people can experience fully rendered and incredibly immersive worlds that offer a form of gaming and entertainment that simply wasn’t widely available a decade ago.
However, schools have been quick to realize the benefits of this type of technology in the classroom. Students tend to be captivated by the latest technology and educational staff have found that incorporating VR technology into lessons can foster higher levels of engagement and enthusiasm when using this tech to support learning.
Students can be transported on virtual field trips that use a mix of VR and augmented reality to educate them on different countries, cultures, and histories. This is a more cost-effective way of running field trips and offers similar levels of learning in an engaging platform that students enjoy using. As well as virtual field trips, the technology allows students to experience different careers from a virtual perspective and even study foreign languages in fully realized 3D environments. Whilst the cost of certain VR headsets can be prohibitive in education (a single headset can cost around $400 depending on the model), there are other more cost-effective options for classroom-based VR learning. Google cardboard is a far cheaper way to experience VR and AR as it can run off students’ smartphones instead of dedicated headsets.
In 2023, there is an increasing emphasis on project-based learning methods being used across the schooling systems. In this type of teaching, there is more of a “hands-off” approach where students are required to collaborate in teams and work together to achieve a larger project by undertaking various smaller tasks.
In this context, the teacher acts as a project facilitator and helps to guide the teams of students through each stage of the project by offering support and advice. The emphasis is placed on students completing the tasks and solving problems using their own creativity, reasoning, and logical skills.
Many students report that this is a more interesting and enjoyable form of education as it puts them in control of how the tasks are undertaken and the overall project is completed. You can read more about project-based learning methods and the research that has taken place into their effectiveness in the classroom by clicking here.
Collaboration with book publishing
For younger students (typically those that fall into grades PreK-6), collaborative teaching methods are cultivated in different ways. One key way of allowing younger pupils to work together with increased engagement is to encourage them to take part in a children’s book project. In this type of project, the students are tasked with creating their own book, which contains a mix of text and pictures. Pupils work as a team on the project, with each of them playing a key role in the content, layout, and sections of the book. Once the book is completed, it can be sent away for printing and publication so that both students and parents can purchase a copy.
The planning and collaboration that takes place in this type of project helps to improve children’s communication and teamwork skills. Many younger students find that the process of creating a unique book is incredibly fulfilling and gives them a sense of achievement once the book has been completed and published.
Shorter lessons and “nanolearning”
Recent statistics indicate that students can concentrate fully on a task for between five and thirty-five minutes (depending on their age and level of education) before they’ll need a break. This poses a problem in the classroom; traditionally, lessons often last for an hour at a time. Toward the end of a one-hour lesson, it’s likely that concentration levels will be low, and the retention of key information may be limited.
The educational system is changing to reflect the concentration levels of its students. Today, many schools are offering shorter lessons (up to thirty minutes in duration) where smaller amounts of information or key concepts are discussed. Research indicates that students may retain more of this information compared to when it’s delivered in longer lessons and they can remember more of it when subsequently tested.
As a brief final example, online lessons were required for millions of students in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The repeated lockdowns and restrictions on public movement made online learning a necessity. However, as the effects of the pandemic lessen, online learning is still popular with some educational establishments. It offers students the flexibility to attend lectures without needing to be in one physical, shared space and presents the possibility of teaching students from different regions or even countries together as a class. Some schools are now offering “virtual places” for high-achieving students that don’t require them to be located in the same catchment area as the school and allow the creation of “centers of excellence” in learning.