5 emerging global trends in K-12 STEM Ed

85% of Australians believe that education should place a higher value on practical vocational skills. Image: Shutterstock

Google’s Future of the classroom: Emerging Trends in K-12 Education report, offers up major insight into what’s expected from teachers in 2020.

Cloud computing, AR-led tech and 3D printing capabilities are all very promising – and exciting – new developments hitting our schools, but there are other less obvious 2020 trends just as key to future-prepping students.

And with education evolving at a faster pace today than during any other period in history, identifying these shifts has become essential in providing the next-gen with the tools they’ll need to navigate careers that don’t exist yet.

Google recently partnered with behavioural insights consultancy Canvas8 to highlight these K-12 shake-ups, and we’ve popped together a list of the major game-changers.

1. Teaching students about digital responsibility

Under 18s account for an estimated one in three Internet users globally, so it’s safe to say that there are a lot of K-12 students navigating the web independently. But while many schools focus on communicating basic online safety tips, there is growing demand for a more interactive and dynamic discussion around cyber security and digital competence.

The stats: According to a 2017 study from Monash University, 54% of parents in NZ would like teachers to do more to help keep their child safe online.

What are we doing? In the UK and Italy government education policy has evolved to make online safety and citizenship part of the compulsory curriculum.

RELATED: School of code

2. An emphasis on holistic education – and less standardised testing

As more value is placed on transferable soft skills – think empathy, confidence and teamwork  – concerns are growing about whether syllabuses are satisfactorily prepping kids for the work place.

85% of Australian teachers feel that standardised testing is ineffective as a method used to asses students. Image: Shutterstock

CEOs globally are crying out for employees with higher levels of emotional intelligence and leadership capabilities, with measures of career success no longer isolated to academic performance.

The stats: 85% of Australians say think that education should place a higher value on practical vocational skills.

What are we doing? In some markets there’s a significant backlash against standardised testing, which is increasingly seen as an inaccurate method for teachers to asses students.

3. Encouraging problem-solving and digital skills

STEM + problem solving smarts = universal skills essential to almost every future focused job, with Google’s report emphasising that access to digital skills is no longer a plus – but a right – for every student. Calls for major curriculum changes around the world are reflecting this shift, as we gradually introduce a toolkit of specialised tech skills to every classroom.

The stats: Although things are changing 30% of Australians are still not confident that children are being prepared for future jobs.

What are we doing? In Australia, heaps! This year the government has allocated more than $64 million to support school early learning and school STEM initiatives. The Girls in STEM Toolkit is just one of them.

RELATED: Why digital literacy is essential to old school careers too

4. Student-led learning

Transitioning students from school to the workforce has been an increasing priority in recent years, and the encouragement of autonomous learning is now seen as a major contributing factor to developing advanced leadership, creative-thinking and confidence skills.

The stats: A NZ-study using student-led focus groups found that student voices are essential in conversations about developing educational practices in the digital world.

What are we doing? The days of memorising text book content are over! Learner-led systems – where students are able to choose their own activities and assignment topics and be involved in the lesson planning process – are growing in international popularity.

5. Redesigning classrooms to encourage flexibility, openness and collaboration

It’s not just workplaces that are being reimagined to reflect a more modern approach to office-bound, sit-down, 9-5 productivity. Globally schools are starting to question the traditional row-based format and are experimenting with open plan designs and fun break-out spaces. According to Google’s research, classroom design – think light, acoustics and positioning – can seriously impact a student’s academic performance and happiness levels!

The stats: Despite what we know about the benefits of mixing up the classroom, 75% of Australian and New Zealand schools still remain conventional… for now.

What are we doing? Playing with innovative layouts, visual teaching aids and even the way that they are greeting students as they walk in the door.

Keen to know more about next-gen classrooms? Head here.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital assistant, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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