The curriculum of 2030

27 Feb 2018 |

While we do not yet live in a world of flying cars and androids, there is no denying that technology has radically changed our lives.

The tools of school teaching have moved over the past 20 years from chalk and blackboards to interactive whiteboards, from one or two computers to classrooms full of tablets and laptops.

Despite this, the subjects being taught across the globe remain broadly the same as ever, while the delivery of lessons remains centred around the ability and knowledge of the teacher, and each lesson leads students towards tests and exams.

However, as we look forward to what education curriculums will look like in 2030, it seems technology will start to affect the subject matter as much as the delivery mechanisms.

Beamed-down learning

Proponents of educational technology believe the next steps in classroom transformation will take us beyond new ways of teaching and testing to a new kind of curriculum, with some predicting the emergence of the “flipped classroom”.

Here, traditional “teaching” takes place outside school and is delivered by video or interactive content for students to engage with before classes.

This frees up lessons for activities that allow deeper exploration of content, reinforcing what students have learnt – the traditional role of homework.

In this model, the teacher is less a disseminator of knowledge and more a facilitator. helping students to apply and expand what they have learnt.

And this is likely to be a trend across the globe as schemes bring technology into developing economies and help to close the education gap between nations.

The Varkey Foundation is aiming to help achieve this goal by collaborating with the Avanti satellite company to bring the internet to rural schools. The programme, called ECO, provides affordable, superfast satellite broadband to schools and communities across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Digital test

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Source: Shutterstock Credit: Monkey Business Images

The way students will be assessed is also changing. Why test children on an arbitrary date once every few years when their progress can be gauged regularly?

There are already systems available that can give teachers real-time data on student performance, helping them to target individuals with specifically tailored help.

Such individuality is reflected in the ideas of personalized education and adaptive learning championed by the likes Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

This view of future education is one that is student-centred. Not only do students learn at their own speed by working through online programmes of work, but they can also take a  much deeper dive into subjects that interest them.

This highly flexible and individualised approach poses a challenge to the traditional education curriculum.

Personal curriculum

If technology can help students learn at their own pace and pursue their passions, what does this mean for one-size-fits-all curriculums?

Although personalised learning may accelerate the role of project-based learning, in which students choose their own assignment, this isn’t to suggest that classrooms would be full of students learning different subjects. There would still be geography and history classes, and a curriculum that underpins learning.

It means if the curriculum, for example, requires a minimum of human geography knowledge, then one student may dive deeply into the effect of architecture on human behaviour, while another looks at inner-city pollution

In the classroom of 2030, this personalised way of working becomes the norm, rather than the exception.

Future subjects

Student-centred learning and the demands of the workplace will also force a transformation of school subjects by 2030.

In countries such as the UK and Australia, coding has already found its way on to national curriculums for children as young as five.

While there is some debate over what effect artificial intelligence may have on the relevance of learning to code (PDF document), digital literacy will probably be a core competency for children leaving school in just over 20 years.

As a result, ICT’s prominence in schools will rise, while digital literacy itself will be crucial skill in every subject.

Alongside digital literacy, social skills are already highly prized by employers.

Harvard University associate professor of education and economics David Deming says AI and automation will make social and interpersonal abilities even more valuable in the future.

He claims (PDF document) that roles combining mathematical and interpersonal skills, such as economists, health technicians and management analysts will be among those that are in most demand.

Such workplace needs could mean curriculums place greater emphasis on the human element.

So, as well as learning about macro and microeconomics, an economics lesson might include a module on communicating economic theory, so it can be understood by non-specialists.

So while the curriculum will always be important for setting the minimum standards of knowledge required in a subject area, it looks unlikely that rigid curriculums in the form we recognise will continue to be the framework for lesson plans and testing.

The Global Education and Skills Forum is taking place on 17th and 18th March 2018 in Dubai, UAE, with the theme of “How do we prepare young people for the world of 2030 and beyond?” Register your interest here.