Top Three Contemporary Educational Trends

Top Three Contemporary Educational Trends

push boundaries“What is certain is that the world is changing faster than at any time in human history” (Stephens, 2012). The digital universe is expanding exponentially and social relationships are increasingly being affected by the internet at multiple levels (Telefónica, 2011) . How can we prepare balanced citizens in an increasingly internationalised, technology driven and rapidly changing world? We need to examine what education is most appropriate for our young people so that they are as prepared as possible for an unknown future. Furthermore, this education will not only affect the individuals but the societies they belong to (National-Intelligence-Council, 2012).
A seemingly obvious answer would be that education must provide the opportunity for students to learn how to adapt in order to keep up with the changing world. Research supports that learner agency – the process by which learners become capable of independent thought and therefore autonomous action – is an essential educational design for twenty-first century learning.  This pedagogy goes deeper than simply using learner-centric approaches as learner agency is interdependent with others and the environment, and is not about the student in isolation. It involves a holistic, integrated approach where the students have a personal sense of agency, where moment by moment they are actively involved in their own learning and well-being. This approach allows the learner to have “the power to act” (Wenmoth, 2014).

Learner agencyWe need to examine how students’ voices are reflected in all aspects of school life and adjust our education to promote learner agency among the school’s most valuable members. In examining trends involving the educational approach that will have “maximum impact in schools,” what was determined as the top trend is the shift to deeper learning approaches such as with inquiry and challenged-based learning (Noonoo, 2015). Being IB trained and seeing the impact of implementing inquiry learning in an educational environment where more traditional learning and teaching is commonly used, I see first-hand how learner agency / inquiry approaches engages students. I have received numerous positive comments from parents about their child’s increased engagement in learning. This approach is commonplace now in my Year 6 team and my next step is to to now develop this through the middle school team. Modelling and slowly but surely integrating this approach may assist a greater school-wide development. Schools are now challenged to rethink how they work, to move from “traditional bell schedules and siloed subject instruction” to more flexible, authentic and multidisciplinary approaches (Noonoo, 2015).

blended learnA second, again obvious trend, is that of digital delivery and the rise of blended learning (Noonoo, 2015). Although this may not seem to be such a recent trend, my experience is that it is happening far too seldom in our everyday classrooms, even though digital media pervades all aspects of these young people’s lives. With the growing proliferation of open-source sites or MOOCs (massive open online courses), we as educators and our students can edit and reorganise information to suit our own needs. This not only supports our ability to better manage learner agency but allows for exciting integrated learning with the digital media itself. The latest ‘eschoolnews trends report’ pegs makerspaces and BYOD as the two ed-tech movements “most likely to enter mainstream in the next year” (Noonoo, 2015). Most of us have only just begun to scratch the surface in using digital technology effectively in our classrooms. It is imperative that students better understand and use digital technology as this media will increasingly impact their lives. Developing this in my own teaching practice is the core reason I have undertaken the Mindlab Postgraduate Certificate.

The third trend influencing education is the learning of the 21 Century skills of collaboration, innovation, critical thinking and communication (Barseghian, 2011). Students need not only to use digital media effectively to navigate the world around them and make sense of the deluge of information on line, they must also know how to contribute to their community, local and global, to develop wisdom on what and who to trust and to come responsible, considerate and collaborative in their associations with others (Barseghian, 2011). Our educational programmmes need to have these social and communication skills embedded. Students need to work with others to achieve outcomes. The latest eschool trends report, states that collaborative learning approaches will be a key driver of technology in schools (Noonoo, 2015). Students need to learn how to be innovative and solve complex problems, bouncing ideas and supporting each other in the process. They need to learn to be socially robust for future economic success and for community health, as it is suggested that depression will become the second highest cause of disease burden in middle income countries (Patel, 2012).

Education is transforming and we all need to be actively involved in this development. To be effective and promote learning where students are best prepared for a rapidly changing future, we need to be familiar with and access a vast array of digital resources in order to develop programmes where the students have learner agency and the opportunity to collaborate effectively with others.

Barseghian, T. (2011). Three Trends That Will Shape the Future of Curriculum. MindShif”: How We Will Learn, February.
National-Intelligence-Council. (2012). Global Trends 2030 Alternative Worlds. Global Trends, 5(December).
Noonoo, S. (2015). Annual K-12 Horizon Report highlights trends and developments to watch. eschool news, 18(4), 18-19.
Patel, V. (Producer). (2012). Some stats on the devastating impact of mental illness worldwide, followed by some reasons for hope. Retrieved from
Stephens, P. (2012). State verses citizen in tomorrow’s world, Financial Times.
Telefónica, D. (Producer). (2011, July 25, 2015). How will the world be in 2020. Retrieved from
Wenmoth, D. (Producer). (2014, July 24 2015). Ten Trends 2014: Learner Agency.



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