In their article, The Changes We Need, Education Post COVID-19, Yong Zhao and Jim Watterston discuss the unprecedented impact the pandemic has had on both educators and students. Almost overnight, schools reinvented themselves as providers of remote instruction. Zhao and Watterston argue that the innovative strategies and changes implemented in the days and weeks following the advent of the crisis are not necessarily the changes that education needs to make in an ever-changing post-COVID world. They lay out three primary areas for change: curriculum that is personalized and evolving; pedagogy that is student-centered, authentic, and purposeful; and delivery of instruction that capitalizes on the strengths of in-person and online learners.
Curriculum should be personalized and evolving.
In the coming years, a new set of capabilities will become dominant and essential. Because of AI, skills connected with pattern prediction, memorization, collection, storage and retrieval of information will become less important. In contrast, skills that include creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and growth mindset will become crucial. In an age of smart machines, curriculum should:
- Focus more on developing students’ capabilities
- Develop students’ social and emotional wellbeing
- Be globally and environmentally connected
- Be personalized by student
- Be flexible enough to allow students to choose what to learn but also require them to create their learning pathway
- Evolve with time and context
Pedagogy that is Student-centered and Purposeful
Learners are diverse and should be more actively engaged in their own learning. Thus, teachers have been encouraged to pursue differentiation and students encouraged to play an active role in their learning. In order to do this, schools should:
- Allow students to negotiate parts of their curriculum
- Encourage participation and engagement of students in decision making around school matters
- Encourage students to co-develop school practices
- Evolve the role of teachers to include functioning as consultants and resource curators
Capitalize on the Strengths of In-person and Online Learners
Technology has allowed schools to offer effective online instruction. It is no longer necessary for all students to be in one location and one time. Moving forward, a combination of online and in-person learning opportunities may be ideal. This is so because:
- Students are freed from having to attend classes at specific times
- They are not required to be at one place in order to receive instruction
- This combination increases students’ autonomy and learning time expands
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