YCIS Beijing Western Co-Principal Noel Thomas believes that one of the keys to understanding this constantly evolving landscape is the analysis of wider “megatrends” and how they impact student learning.
Below, we take a closer look at what he believes to be three of the most important of such trends, plus how these trends can be properly utilized to enhance education.
Our professional world is more shaped by technology than ever before. It dominates our workplace, our social lives, our homes; we have more regular, unfiltered access to technology on a constant basis than any point before in human history. As a world-class international school with a focus on an integration with technology, the Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) keeps close tabs ensures that the school curriculum is optimized to both take advantage of the most recent devices and tools as well as ensure students are prepared to thrive in such a world post-graduation.
A Culture of Connectedness
The first megatrend is connectedness: we are living in a world that is incredibly connected. One of the false things that parents will present about technology is that it is isolating, that somehow the kids who are looking at screens constantly are isolated form the world. In reality, the children of today are more connected than any other generation in history by a long shot. Kids are adopting interesting and effective ways to express that connectedness. For example, my kids make far fewer phone calls; my son is not interested in talking to me over the phone, but he’s very interested in communicating with me, so we’ll use various forms of text to communicate. They connect with each other through channels like Snapchat, Whatsapp, and so forth. I see those as very positive tools and ones that facilitate the creation of important connections.
Visual over Textual Expression
Another megatrend we’re seeing dominate is an emphasis on images and visual expression. You look at the extraordinary speed of development of emoji’s and gifs for communication; oddly enough, it’s often simpler and more expedient to get the message across using such images. Students as young as five or six are becoming adept at recording images and are very quickly learning how to edit and fine-tune them. In terms of educational applications, this will be a far more informative output than the posters we might have done back when I was at school. While there’s still a place for those handmade expressions of learning, that visual nature of the world is shifting education and shifting society.
The Opportunities of Choice
The third and final megatrend I would mention is choice. The range of choices students have in terms of the information they’re looking for and how they’re looking for it. There’s also a huge choice in how they’ll communicate how they’ll transport themselves, what courses they’ll undertake; wherever you look, we’re starting to see more choice being available. It’s vital that we help students to understand the sources which they use to access information so that they get in the habit of accessing reliable and trustworthy sources as well as develop healthy habits of internet and technology consumption.
This growing range of choice, an increasing tendency towards the visual, and connectedness, all driven by technology, must inform the decisions we make as educators and how we tailor our curriculum. While guidance is necessary, no set of tools is better through which to learn about connectedness, to take advantage of choice, and to engage in the visual world in which we live.