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The Future of Education

By ACS Distance Education on October 13, 2023 in How to Learn Better | comments

Over recent years, we’ve seen education evolve in three critical ways:

  • transitioning from traditional to progressive education
  • designing educational experiences using technology for self-paced, customised learning solutions like an LMS platform.
  • creating more fluid award design, allowing for microlearning and badging for learning and showcasing specialised skills

So, what’s the difference between Traditional Education and Progressive Education? 

Traditional education began with a “sage on the stage” approach, where the teacher leads the class through a topic — sometimes through discussion, but often through some form of directed teaching.
While this has evolved over time, such that schools and tertiary institutions now use standardised curricula and supportive materials (e.g., textbooks) the general frame of teacher-led learning has widely continued into the 21st century. Many teachers and lecturers also use a “chalk and talk” approach, where the educator writes notes or material on the board (or in a PowerPoint) and expects students to follow along, with limited time for questioning or practical tasks.
Progressive education methods are still relatively new (originating 1960’s), with discovery and student-led or student-centric learning. These approaches centre on tailoring learning experiences to the student’s specific needs, making them especially valuable for job-ready learning and training programs.

Discovery learning and professional learning 

Sometimes called problem-based, discovery learning presents students with a problem or scenario and asks them to draw on their:

  • Knowledge and understanding — i.e., known facts or theories
  • Analytical skills — i.e., breaking down the problem into component parts to work out what must be solved, what tools may be required
  • Critical reasoning and thinking — e.g., using skills to work out potential solutions and determine what is relevant/irrelevant, which factors are most important, why some solutions may/may not work
  • Synthesis — i.e., combining knowledge and understanding with analysis to determine a set of actions, create a plan, or otherwise provide a solution to the set problem.

This style of education is increasingly relevant to:

  • training those entering the workforce
  • re-skilling and upskilling existing staff
  • retraining for career transition.

This is because problem-based learning helps students learn to use existing skill sets (e.g., analytical skills) alongside new information (e.g., new knowledge acquired from professional development or training programs) to create new, engaging solutions in parallel fields. This is essential for maintaining agility and flexibility in the employment landscape.

So what DOES the educational future look like? 

Although the transition from traditional to progressive education began several decades ago, our educational future is correlated to an evolving employment landscape.
To help identify educational needs, we need to think about the core competencies and skills driving recruiting and industry improvement, particularly in this ongoing public-health-conscious period.
Factors driving the educational future include:

  • increased need for remote work
  • increased use of technology
  • need for soft skills in the workplace, including networking, time management, communication, leadership, teamwork
  • changes in interaction between teams, dealing with remote management and client-side interaction
  • rapid turnover in certain industries
  • increased need for professional development for specialised industries
  • decreased time for recruiting
  • decreased time for skills development prior to job start.

Meeting these needs requires educators and education providers to:

  • assess competence in existing learning and technologies to design relevant learning experiences
  • determine specific needs for both student and industry
  • create frameworks addressing needs
  • develop a variety of levelled learning experiences for addressing general learning vs. specialised learning
  • develop naming conventions or awards that showcase learning
  • develop course packages that work with existing timeframes.

Personalised Learning Solutions 

A personalised learning package is different to a standard curriculum. In a traditional university setting, students take a degree program with core subjects that form the basis of the degree specialisation (or major, in some cases).
For instance, an arts student specialising in English will have a selection of English literature and writing courses, complemented by a few other courses of their choice; a student specialising in Physics will have core theoretical and experimental Physics courses, with a selection of complementary math and, most likely, research courses.
Non-traditional education providers such as ACS Distance Education and its affiliates have already recognised this and support the opportunity to offer personalised learning packages that allow the student to create their own course programs tailored to their unique needs.
For instance, a learner of physics interested in science communication and education may create a learning package combining courses like:

  • Communication
  • Educational Psychology
  • Delivering Distance Education
  • Freelance Writing
  • Technical Writing (there should be links for all of these)

This learning package means the student doesn’t have to cover material they already know (e.g., Physics) but can study areas that will help them attain their specific goal of creating a science education consultancy for primary schools.