New Year’s is the traditional time not just for taking stock of the year gone by, but also for anticipating the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead.
Changes in the education system have been brewing for a long time, with digitization as the main direction of this transformation. Because of the pandemic, thousands of schools and millions of teachers and learners have had to switch to remote classes almost overnight. Educators were forced to master new tools like Zoom, while maintaining the quality of education as they taught online.
Many things changed the game for the worlds of work and education in 2020. Because of that, we expect a lot of changes to come through in 2021. Here are our top 5 predictions for education and professional life in 2021.
1. There will be a version of Zoom fully dedicated to educators
Teachers have never faced such acute challenges layered on top of the day-to-day demands of being an educator in 2020. As we move forward, there is a new level of attention on making sure all students have access to educational technology.
Those who teach every day know that there’s a lot that goes into planning and designing engaging learning experiences for students. It’s been incredible what teachers have accomplished this past year, and they deserve the best tools in order to make their job as easy as possible.
We’ve already heard talk about creating a Zoom add-on for educators. 2021 should be a year of pushing the envelope both in terms of equity and innovation: We've seen how tools can rise to the top when they serve a specific need like Zoom. Zoom was not designed specifically for educational use. So ClassEDU created by Michael Chasen aims to change that. Class for Zoom will be a Zoom add-on that will give educators new features such as the ability to take class attendance, get data insights into student participation, and issue interactive quizzes during class. This will allow teachers to pivot to more remote learning, have more flexibility in hybrid classrooms, and open up more educational opportunities to more students.
2. New, More Practical Degree Programs Will Appear
While opinions vary, some majors including anthropology, philosophy, and creative writing are beginning to be criticized for their lack of pertinence in today’s exploding technical world.
COVID-19 has caused colleges to abandon entire academic departments and withdraw multiple degree programs. Schools that are struggling to stay afloat will begin to make practical changes to shift towards degree programs that are focused on new emerging jobs. This has been a winning approach for two-year colleges and four-year colleges will begin to expand their offerings in this direction.
Quality vocational education is not just for trade schools anymore. Be on the lookout, then, for tech-school type degrees like multimedia artists/animators, web development, computer network architect, and advanced computer programming, at smaller colleges and even large universities.
3. More people will turn to online bootcamps as opposed to traditional universities
As more education is delivered by IT, and not on a traditional campus, coding bootcamps will become more popular. In some cases, universities will partner with strong brands like Google, but online bootcamps will seek to compete on their own, and teach students relevant skills.
Short programs of all kinds are a useful way for people to enhance their skill sets and signal to employers their willingness to invest in themselves. The value of on-demand, lifelong learning has allowed college alternatives like coding bootcamps and data science programs to grow at faster rates than master’s degrees. The pandemic has further boosted the demand for short apprenticeships and specific applied content at a lower price than many college degrees.
4. Remote Work and Education will continue to grow
In response to Covid-19, students were forced to study remotely during the pandemic, and there’s a good chance that many will choose to remain online. Institutions will need to build the infrastructure to continue to offer most of their programs virtually.
An issue that will be addressed in the coming year is accessibility, making sure students have access to the same resources, whether they are attending in-person or remote is important so that all students receive the same experience and quality education. Addressing this gap will require innovative new features and solutions from video communications services.
With an acceleration of digitization and automation, remote work will also see an increase. 75 percent of individuals report expecting their employers to offer more flexibility in where they work after the pandemic. In 2021, leadership teams will need to invest more time and energy to drive engagement and culture in a remote environment. Maintaining connection and communication is critically important especially in a virtual environment but despite these challenges, more employees will want the flexibility to work remotely and we should expect to see a shift in that direction.
5. Existing Tools Will See Better Use
COVID-19 has fast-tracked the use of technology in education. It has caused many teachers to adopt digital tools for instruction and assignments. Through the adoption of digital tools, educators have realized the benefits of digital learning. For example, students handing in digital homework and having access to learning analytics.
We’ve already seen the massive adoption of technology tools for collaboration, assignments, assessment, and even teaching, and there is no doubt that will continue in the coming year. I believe administrators will be prepared to invest in training and support initiatives to maximize the use of current programs. From Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams to social media, the possibilities are endless for increasing student engagement, classroom management, and collaboration.
The year 2020 has been a particularly tough and uncertain one, but these challenges are incentives for reform and improvement on the current work and education systems. Many of us will return to the office and school in 2021, armed with our experiences from this unusual year. Looking to be more prepared this year and adapt to its many changes? Check out the Meratas blog for more education and professional development advice that will keep you at the top of your game.
Topics: Professional Development