Education has been a topic of hot debate for as long as it has been an institution. Recently, there have been some big shifts in the global education sector, mostly due to revolutionizing changes in technology.
The past few years have seen a spike in the use of video platforms such as YouTube and Khan Academy. On top of this, rising costs have forced many institutions to cut costs and restructure their facilities, leading to a rise in online education options. The last few years have also seen a huge increase in the number of people that are homeschooling their children instead of sending them to school.
Whether or not one agrees with the occurring changes, it is evident: there are many large-scale changes taking place in the global education sector. Let’s take a look at a few.
Rising Attention Towards Special Education
Over the past few decades, special education (education for individuals with special needs) has arguably been one of the most pronounced and controversial fields in academia. In the majority of countries across the world, children that have special needs are usually sent to separate institutions due to a lack of resources in mainstream education. The controversy here is that mainstream schools don’t have the sufficient programming and financial support that they require to adequately educate children with special needs.
One of the biggest shifts in recent history when it comes to special education is a large rise in awareness towards this field of study. Today, many countries have made great efforts to integrate those with disabilities into mainstream education systems. Therefore, many are now looking for a degree in special education, which is driving more attention towards finding solutions for issues in this field, such as accessibility and relevance of the courses.
Increase In Use Of Technology
It’s no secret that technology has exploded over the past two decades, and the education sector has not been safe from its reach. In fact, in 2017, 6.5 million students were enrolled in post-secondary degree offering institutions through long-distance learning.
Since the pandemic began and schools went online, the number of students engaging in virtual learning has undeniably increased exponentially. And with the rise of technology, the need for qualified teachers has also increased. As many of the present-day teachers belong to older, less tech-savvy generations, they find issues with operating educational technology. It can be deduced that many schools are not properly training their teachers on how to incorporate technology into their instruction techniques.
Many countries across the world have had a hard time keeping up with technological advances, and it is no surprise that they have seen issues in adapting to changes in their curriculum and teacher-to-student ratios.
Developing and underdeveloped countries are bearing the brunt of this issue since many simply do not have access to educational technology, nor do they have the resources to gain access to it. Although technological learning is well on its way to becoming a staple in the global educational sector, how underdeveloped and developing countries will adapt to it remains to be seen.
Soft Skills Training And Development
On top of the introduction of technological and online learning, there has been a rise in “soft skills” training (the ability to present oneself effectively, as well as interpersonal relationship and leadership ability), since oftentimes, soft skills are not taught in schools and are usually picked up by students through “invisible learning.”
Soft skills have become increasingly important over time due to the increased need for workers that have strong interpersonal communication, presentation, and leadership abilities. Although there is an argument that soft skill training is more relevant to those pursuing post-secondary studies, it is clear that the demand for these skills will continue to grow.
However, the issue arises that since virtual and online learning is on the rise, the opportunities for social interactions, which are essential for the development of soft skills, are getting lesser and lesser every day. In situations such as these, it falls to educational institutions to create opportunities for students to develop these skills. These skills are growing increasingly important in a world finding its ideological identity in fraternity and community.
Decreasing Attention Spans Of Students
The human attention span has been in a state of constant flux since the beginning of time. In fact, there are schools of thought that suggest that the attention span has actually diminished during the course of history and is now shorter than it has ever been before. Although there is an undeniable increase in our reliance on technology, studies have shown that students’ attention spans are shrinking even further. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, in comparison with 2000, which is when the technological revolution found its speed, the average student’s attention span has decreased by a solid 4 seconds, going from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. This is largely being blamed on the constant stimulation that social media and the internet offer.
One study shows that when Millenials find the content being presented to be interesting, they are able to focus longer than previous generations. However, when the content is not interesting, they are one of the first to tune out. The root for this can also be found in social media and the algorithm that alters the timeline according to the users’ interests in seconds. The global education sector now faces the challenge of making education more stimulating than ever before, knowing that apt stimulation will result in more productivity than ever before.
There is no denying that change has greatly affected education throughout history and that it continues to do so. Although the effects of technological and societal developments have been largely positive, they are also causing some drawbacks in the realm of education, specifically with respect to including new and varying ideas into curricula. This has opened up the field for technological innovations, and schools have begun to adapt to effectively incorporate these changes into their curriculums. It is apparent that many of these changes are only pointing us in the direction of progress; it now falls to our leaders to follow the path.