If you went to school in the twentieth century – particularly if you went to school in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century – you probably remember strict timetables, rigid curricula, and lots and lots of single paper handouts on any subject from math to art history. Those without organized binders were absolutely lost in the woods!
That is no longer the case! Even before the COVID-19 pandemic required students to complete all of their schoolwork from home, teachers and educators were increasingly turning to digital technology to plan, enact, and check in on lessons. Learning apps that allow class time to extend beyond the classroom and where students can interact and get feedback from teachers have become increasingly common in the last decade.
Here are a few ways in which education has changed and is changing in 2022.
Parents Are Totally Involved
Outside of traditional Parent-Teacher Associations, in the past, there was very little space for parents in the practices of teaching and running a school. Kids came home, reported on their days (or, more often, didn’t), and that was that. If they went to their rooms to do their homework, great, but if they chose not to, there wasn’t much a parent could do.
These days, parents are an integral part of the learning process as well as the school community. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, many parents suddenly became responsible for managing their kids’ learning at home all day: anyone who didn’t understand the value of being involved in what their children were up to at home suddenly became acutely aware of how important that was.
Now it is fairly normal for students to be sent home from school with tasks for their parents as well as themselves, and it isn’t out of the ordinary to get families involved at the school as well! A far cry from the days when school and home were as separate as state and church!
Digital Resources Abound
One of the best ways in which education has changed – for students but also for the environment – is the movement of so much schoolwork from paper to digital. With the advent of the internet, communication can be done in and out of school without ever having to use a printer. In addition, there are so many amazing portable, practical, and accessible computers that are especially good for young people – Lenovo kids tablets, for example – that there’s really no need to be writing stuff out by hand at all.
There are also other digital resources like Smart Boards, projectors, etc. that allow the learning experience to become a wholly integrated digital experience, where students can start a project at school in a big group and then seamlessly work on it from home. Project sharing apps and cloud storage solutions mean that young people working on projects in their bedrooms can see what others are doing at the same time on their screen and comment and chat with one another as they do! This means that the benefits of the classroom can be felt long after the school bell has rung at the end of the day.
Plus, of course, where would students these days be without the incredible advent of Kahoot!, the incredibly popular way to make learning engaging and inclusive to all?
Diversity is At the Forefront of Learning
In the past, curricula have been notoriously specific in terms of learning outcomes. Lessons have historically been very white, very male-centric, and extremely nationalistic. Even life at school has traditionally been restrictive and oppressive for many. While there are still a few places where a strictly white, nationalistic curriculum is enforced, for the most part, schools are changing for the better all across the country.
Thanks in large part to the power of the internet, which has allowed oppressed communities to communicate and seek visibility, the demand for change has meant a significant shift in how schools organize learning. Diversity is now at the forefront of many educational mandates, and curricula are being structured to highlight rather than downplay alternative histories, voices, and cultures.
It really is an amazing time to be a student at school!