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Challenge: Extraordinary Teachers

4 Education Trends Parents Need to Know About

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Throughout our lives, we’ve been told that education is the key to success. We have to go to school, do our homework, and pass our exams. Seems pretty simple right?

Well, while these things are still true, some big things are changing in the way we educate our students, and as a well-informed parent, you may want to be aware of these changes.

What are the trends that are taking place within the education system? These trends include:

1. Standardized Testing

2. Online Learning

3. Augmented Reality (AR)

4. Greater Choice and Less Micromanaging

Standardized Testing

Growing up, you probably have taken your fair share if standardized testing. It is these tests that will gauge how much the student has learned in a given period, but also how effective the teacher and the school were at providing their students with the necessary information to pass the exam.

Students have to answer questions in one of three ways:

· True/False

· Multiple Choice

· Essay

While this is what most people are used to when they were given a test in school, the truth is, these standardized tests are costly – and not just monetarily.

In 2012, the entire testing system costed the states about $1.7 billion per year. Students will spend between 7 to 15% of their academic year (roughly 175 days) just preparing for these exams and anywhere between 20 to 25 hours actually taking the exams.

That is a lot of time and money being wasted on a system that has proven to redundant, impractical, inaccurate, and incoherent (among other things).

So, how are we going to test our students to see if the information is being absorbed and retained by the students?

Lately, teachers have been using alternatives to standardized test taking such as innovative game-based assessments (games that assesses the student’s understanding of material without stopping the learning process) and portfolio-based assessments (the portfolio shows how a student’s skills have evolved throughout the year and the progress is evaluated).

These alternative methods of assessing the student’s knowledge can bridge the huge gap that standardized testing can create because not all students test well or learn the same way.

Online Learning

In today’s world, we rely a lot on technology. It’s in almost every aspect of our lives – even our refrigerators have smart technology that syncs with our phones so we can see what’s inside!

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that technology is making its way into the classroom.

What's most interesting about online learning is that the movement has largely been driven by educators themselves.

As you probably know, teachers have to take courses to keep their teaching licensure, yet most don't have the free time to take courses on a college campus.

The alternative method was learning online through education programs at small to major universities.

As technology progressed, this movement expanded and now educators can obtain their master's degree through programs like the University of Cincinnati's Master of Education Online program. How awesome is that?

But, online learning isn’t just an option for those who have full-time jobs and need to take online courses at night. This type of learning is making its way to high schools and even elementary schools.

It’s becoming a popular option because it saves on tuition, increases the student’s flexibility, and the structured programs can be customized for the needs of the student.

When online learning is combined with real teaching, it can improve the efficiency of the coursework and the student’s ability to retain the information. Should a student need help, they can receive one-on-one instruction via the internet.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) can give students a learning experience that a worksheet or book cannot. With AR, students will be to bring things into the classroom that they otherwise could not.

A student can report on the Great Pyramids, and with AR, they can show the pyramids in life-like 3D. Forget the old paper mache volcanoes – now students can bring Mount Saint Helens to life right at their desk!

AR isn’t just a great visual aid, students can do so much more with it. Here are 6 learning applications for AR.

· Students can view 3D models from every angle, at any distance, and scale

· Students can interact with content to get a more thorough understanding

· Students can engage with the content and will be more willing to learn

· AR can enhance displays in the classroom and bring educational materials to life

· AR can stimulate the student's senses, engrossing the students in the learning

· Students can peek inside objects to see how the objects are made

Some would argue that this type of technology is going to be incredibly expensive to implement.

Let’s say you need to purchase a set of building blocks for every student in one classroom; it’s going to be expensive. However, if you use AR building blocks and use an app, it’s going to be less expensive.

AR can be used across all subjects, so while you may be using the AR for building blocks for one subject, you could be using it for History to teach students about the Vikings.

Greater Choice and Less Micromanaging

In many classrooms, teachers micromanage their students to keep them on task. This often leads to frustrated and irritable students and teachers.

It is believed that you can boost the productivity and happiness of the students by giving empowering them to work as a team and give students the ability to express creativity while learning.

According to a study by the Christensen Institute, when students are given the materials they need to learn, without the teacher telling them they need to do it, they feel empowered. This cultivates a passion for learning.

Of course, the teacher will have to teach students how to have that willingness to learn mindset. However, once that mindset is in place, it’s also up to the teacher to give feedback on how the students are doing – as a group, but also on a one-on-one basis.

As you provide the feedback, it’s important to hold the students (and yourself) accountable. As teachers, you're going to need to make sure that your classroom and curriculum is one that incorporates social equity.

According to a recent university resource, applying social equity means that all individuals receive fair and just treatment so that their assignments and curriculum are tailored to their education level.

Important tools to accomplish this include: giving yourself and your students time to reflect, goals to achieve and a way to track progress, but also self-assessments and student surveys.

Technology is every bit as important in the classroom as it is in other areas of life. Instead of using technology to post selfies or read gossip, it can be used to, not only teach our students but keep them engaged and willing to pursue learning.

These four education trends are going to change the way our students learn at every level so that they can be the innovators to introduce new ways for future generations to learn.

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