The future of education

Singapore, March 30, 2017

NCS The Future of Education

Education is undergoing a dramatic transformation from a teacher-centric to a learner-centric paradigm in response to megatrends that are re-shaping the global socio-economic landscape.

The forces of change

Today, increased urbanisation, increasingly interconnected economies, economic power shifts and the emergence of enabling technologies are creating an environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

These developments present a formidable challenge to educators who are trying to prepare students for the future. It has been estimated that over the next two decades, 47 percent of today’s jobs could be replaced by technology. The jobs at risk extend beyond the manufacturing floor to all jobs that involve well-defined problems and algorithm, such as accountants, contract lawyers and many other white collar professions.

The world of work is also becoming increasingly global and collaborative, and individuals are expected to work, learn, socialise and play whenever and wherever they want to.

For stakeholders in the education system, the question that they have to grapple with is: What are the skill sets and competencies that students will need to have in order to survive and thrive in this future economy?

A new approach to teaching and learning

The general consensus is that traditional content-centric learning will have to give way to new innovative ways to develop higher-order thinking skills. Students will have to become life-long learners in order to be industry-relevant and prepared for the future. This means they will have to start taking greater charge of their own learning.

ICT plays a critical role in this transformation, driving the transition from hardcopy textbooks to bite-sized content and apps and enabling the shift from traditional classrooms to ICT-enabled pedagogies such as the flipped classroom.

The flipped classroom reverses the typical sequence of attending a class and then doing homework. With this model, students watch a short video or presentation online before going to class. In the classroom, they follow up on what they have viewed with group discussions, exercises or projects. This provides students with more control over the lesson as they are able to watch and re-play the video as much as they need to. At the same time, the focus on group work during classroom time helps them to build up collaborative skills.

The role of analytics

The inclusion of analytics will help drive even greater value from the use of technology in teaching and learning. For example, in the flipped classroom model where students view a video or presentation before going to class, it would be useful to know how much of the video or presentation they were able to cover beforehand, as this could inform the teacher’s design of the lesson.

More generally, analytics can help teachers identify topics that require more revision and the common problem areas for a particular cohort or class. Student cluster analysis can provide insights into subgroups of students who exhibit similar strengths and weaknesses so that programmes can be tailored to meet their learning needs. Predictive analytics can be applied to help teachers identify students with a high risk of dropping out, so that they are able to provide timely intervention.

The way forward

Today, the use of data analytics in education is still in its nascent stage, and this is because not enough data is being collected in the classroom. For example, when a teacher conducts a quiz in class, data on how the students answer is not being captured, so there is no way of knowing who answered a question correctly, who answered wrongly, or who did not even attempt to answer. And yet this is very useful information from a teaching and learning perspective. If the responses to a quiz can be mapped to the preceding lessons, the teacher will have a better idea of how much each student has actually learnt.

To optimise the use of ICT and analytics in teaching and learning, therefore, it will be necessary to capture data from across multiple student touchpoints to provide more holistic insights into the learning experience. This will, in turn, help educators to understand the effectiveness of various pedagogical strategies and empower students to take greater charge of their own learning. 

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