The roaring twenties - what lies ahead for educators?

New Year is traditionally a time to look ahead and consider the future, even if it falls halfway through the year from a teacher’s perspective. Nevertheless, this New Year also marks the beginning of a new decade, making it an opportune moment to stop and think about what trends might emerge in the education sector. 

Through our ongoing work with schools and teachers we have been able to put together a picture of four pervasive themes that educators agree will top the agenda in 2020 and beyond.

1.    Return of Bring Your Own Device

The 2010s were characterised by a battle between teachers and students over how mobile phones should be dealt with in schools. For some staff, the answer was full prohibition, with devices being banned from classrooms, corridors and in some cases whole schools. This was certainly one way to ensure that students weren’t able to use their phones inappropriately while in the classroom, but shutting off access to devices completely was ultimately deemed short-sighted.

Instead of relegating phones and tablets to simply objects of distraction, many educators are now reassessing the way they are used, harnessing the power of technology to make lessons more impactful and engaging. Looking ahead into the 2020s more and more schools are going to find ways to use devices within the school walls, whether through blended learning, educational apps or as a mechanism to deliver assessments or feedback. 

2.    Revamped careers guidance

To say that career paths have shifted over the past ten years would be an understatement. With the boom in technology roles, as well as the impact of automation on the number of traditional jobs available to school leavers, the employment landscape has changed considerably. 

Sam Blyth on what lies ahead for educatorsThe shifting job market needs to be reflected in the advice and teaching provided by schools. Already we have begun to see tech skills being prioritised in the curriculum, and this is likely to continue as the demand for employees with technological abilities, both soft and hard, increases. In addition, we will see the continued prioritisation of ‘learning to do’ - the independent research skills and practical application of knowledge which will prepare students for an unpredictable employment market.

3.    Personalised learning will be bigger than ever

Any teacher will tell you that no two students learn in exactly the same way, yet the case that the classroom environment has traditionally focused in on a one-to-many or one-size-fits-all approach. However with the introduction of new education technology over the last decade, this has begun to change.

We work with a number of schools who have brought in flipped or blended learning approaches, using in-classroom laptops or tablets to change the way that students interact with their work. For some teachers, this means taking a step back from the ‘chalk and talk’ approach, and giving their students the ability to seek out knowledge for themselves. Going forward this pedagogical style is likely to become more widespread as the need for students to have individual learning skills becomes more important. 

4.    The administration burden will be significantly lessened

Nothing sends a teacher into spirals of despair like the prospect of mountains of marking or having to photocopy thousands of worksheets. Fortunately, this stress looks to be on the way out as more and more schools adopt software, like Canvas, that enables grades, assignments and resources to be moved online. 

By investing in technology that takes the administrative burden away from teachers, schools can allow them to focus on the real work of teaching. It’s likely that the next decade will see class sizes and the demand on teacher time continue to increase. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that teachers have all the time they need to teach and support their classes, and technology should be a big part of making this possible. 

Sam Blyth, Senior Director of Canvas EMEA