Javier Arroyo discusses the future of education.
The impact of lockdowns
The past year has been a difficult one for many – especially for children. Lockdown learning and disruptions to routines have meant many have fallen behind in their education. In fact, teachers have said pupils are as much as three-months behind where they should be.
Parents and teachers have both struggled with what the pandemic has thrown our way, and many who have children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have expressed concerns about being let down with the difficulties of multiple lockdowns.
Not only that, but the impact on mental health is also huge. Research suggests that 83% of young people who have a pre-existing mental health need have said that coronavirus has made their condition worse, and many children who were ‘just about coping’ before lockdown are now struggling. Studies show that many mental health problems in young people present themselves before they turn 14, yet children with special educational mental health needs are one of the largest groups to be excluded from school. It is an understatement to say that this has had an overwhelming impact on their learning.
Recognising the individual
This is why it is important we take a look at how we’re teaching. It is vital we recognise that each individual is different and for this reason, a one size fits all approach to education isn’t always the best.
The approach assumes that all pupils learn in the same way, at the same speed. This isn’t the case. While it is important to cover the syllabus, curriculums should be tailored to each person in order for them to get the best possible education and chance of success in the future.
Something I firmly believe in is that learning should be fun, challenging and rewarding – but without being overwhelming. Encouraging children to do a little each day, with a strong focus, is much better than getting them to sit down once a week for hours on end without their full attention.
Technology has a huge role to play in this, particularly when you introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI) which can help with adaptive learning. Picking up areas of strength and weakness and ensuring children focus on where they need to improve in a fun and often gamified way helps get results. This is something I have seen first-hand.
Online learning programs which are short, engaging and motivating, is the key to a child’s success. The lessons should be just the right length to keep them interested, and also engaging through the use of fun activities, bright colours and characters which help bring the work to life. There could be the option to have questions read aloud for those who need it, which really helps in letting children take charge of the activity themselves. And, through the reward of earning stars and ticks for accuracy in answering, AI can be a great motivating factor in making children want to succeed.
When you consider the impact of the past year, the future of EdTech is set to be huge and we will need to integrate online personalised methodologies with traditional offline programs. We’re seeing more schools adopting online programs and we predict that children will need to take ownership of their learning too.
Children are able to grow with these programs as they adapt to their learning and they also have a role to play in helping to replace costly tutors or in-person after school learning centres, which aren’t always the best option for everyone.
EdTech is nothing to be frightened of, in fact it is the opposite. Embracing technology which works for an individual in a fun and engaging way is one of the best ways to help boost educational results.