Around the world, new technologies are transforming the classroom or doing away with it altogether. Among the technologies supplementing traditional learning are online lessons called massive open online courses (MOOCs). These are provided by institutions such as MITx and Khan Academy. They enable students to progress through a course at their own speed. Khan Academy had enrolled 40 million students as of late 2017, and MITx 1.7 million.
Meanwhile, virtual schools are replacing classrooms completely for people who need to learn remotely. Athletes, actors or people with health issues that keep them out of the classroom, for example, can earn qualifications by studying online. The Florida Virtual School District (FLVS) connects students with teachers who they can interact with via live video lesson sessions. Since 1997, the FLVS has had more than 3 million full-time and flex-time students.
Technology is also being used to provide children with hands-on learning, with the help of new companies like Amino Labs. The US startup creates kits that let kids play around with DNA. For example, the DNA Playground and Engineer-it Kit Starter Pack teaches students how to engineer and grow bacteria like a professional.
It’s not just US students who are benefiting from new technology in education. In Africa, the Internet is enabling kids to access resources previously unavailable to them, such an online courses and educational apps. In Johannesburg, VMware Foundation has also created a mobile computing lab that travels to schools to show them how tech can impact the classroom.
New technologies can enhance learning – 99 percent of teachers claim their students are more engaged in learning and retain knowledge longer as a result of their hands-on experience, according to nonprofit Resource Area for Teaching. However, by educating children with the latest technologies, smart schools will also help prepare students for the future job market.
According to MIT Technology Review, 65 percent of children starting primary school today will work in job types that don’t exist yet. We’ll also see 35 percent of core workplace skills change between 2015 and 2020, with increasing demand for complex problem solving, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. To create a modern workforce fit for the 21st century, education and curriculums need to be re-thought and modernized.