This startup trailblazer believes these 5 trends will shape the future of education

With the World Economic Forum predicting that 50% of all employees will soon need reskilling or upskilling by 2025, all sectors of education need to face the music.

Education leaders ready to leap into the next generation of education that fully embraces digital modalities aren’t waiting around for our current institutions to get it together. Instead, they’re building their own schools that they see better fall in line with 21st-century students and match their needs. OpenAI mastermind Sam Altman and social media pioneer Jason Citron are just a few A-list investors backing Campus, a completely online community college reimagining the two-year experience for students and faculty.

At the K12 level, too, online school alternatives are beginning to percolate. One EdChoice and Morning Consult monthly tracker poll found that 44% of parents want their children to learn from home between one and four days a week. Sora Schools is just one example of one such school looking to satisfy parents’ wants. The curriculum is broken into six-week blocks of synchronous online courses or independent-study projects aligned to state graduation standards.

While the private online school is still in its embryonic stages since its founding in 2018, it aims to recruit over 100,000 students in the next few years, according to PIX 11. What current enrolled Sora Schools students and their parents think about the future of education in the school’s most recent “Trends in Education 2024” report can greatly impact their perception of what higher education should be like, too. With the World Economic Forum predicting that 50% of all employees will soon need reskilling or upskilling by 2025, all sectors of education need to face the music.

“Our society faces global challenges; responding to them will require creative and collaborative leadership from the next generation of students,” Garrett Smiley, CEO and co-founder, said to PIX 11. “An education system built for the Industrial Revolution is not going to get it done and has frankly outstayed its welcome.”

AI is no longer a foe—it’s an ally

Venture capital in artificial intelligence is in the ballpark of $100 billion, Forbes reports. Legacy tech companies like Google and Microsoft dove headfirst into the trends and a multitude of startups are following suit. There is a huge upside in education for these tools.

  • Personalized learning: Khanmigo and Quizlet have created their own line of AI tutors and
  • Break down language barriers
  • Grant teachers and students more time to focus on bigger questions

More than three-quarters of families expressed a strong desire for teachers to supplement teaching with AI tools and felt that the tool would improve the quality of their education. While parents were more skeptical about supplanting a teacher with AI, more than half (51%) said they felt comfortable with an AI tutor.

“Incorporating AI into my child’s education will not only enhance his learning experience but also equip him with vital skills for their future. We are living in an era where AI and technology play crucial roles in various sectors,” said a parent. “Familiarizing my child with AI will prepare him for a future where these skills will be indispensable.”

Teacher efficacy will increase

The advent of AI will allow teachers to offload mundane administrative tasks to students and provide them more energy to be at the “heart and soul” of the classroom. Moreover, more than two-thirds (64%) of parents agreed or strongly agreed that AI should help free teachers from administrative tasks and help them build connections with the classroom.

However, before it gets easier for teachers, there is a learning curve. Teachers must embrace the learning curve of these technologies.

More from UB: Life support: How colleges are guiding students beyond campus life

Augmented and virtual reality in education will press on

The Apple Vision Pro is the latest push forward into AR/VR technology, pushing users into even deeper immersive experiences. The Sky Guide app, for example, explores a virtual representation of the night sky, allowing users to explore constellations and satellites. A report from PwC identified by Sora Schools found that students are 150% more engaged in VR-supplemented curriculum and that it’s 400% faster than classroom-based learning.

However, cost continues to be an inhibitory factor.

Cross-disciplinary, project-based learning

Student engagement is falling off; this especially rings true for the higher ed space. A lot of this is due to the disconnect students feel from classes siloed by specific subjects and fail to embrace the reality of today’s interconnected culture, thanks to internet accessibility. Sora Schools believes there will be an evolution in curriculum design that leverages holistic, phenomenon-based learning.

Phenomenon-based learning dares classrooms to examine today’s complex global challenges that we are ever more informed of, compelling students to look at them through an educational lens. Nearly all parents surveyed (96%) are interested in project-based learning, which blends science, history and the arts to tackle real-world issues. Another 91% say it’s very important for schools to teach “21st-century” skills like problem-solving and communication.

We are already begging to see inklings of these parents’ desires in higher ed: STEM-focused curriculum is beginning to integrate lessons of the liberal arts into its pragmatic, skills-based programs.

Realizing the potential of learning management systems (LMS)

Students are increasingly interested in what their schools’ LMS offer them, partly due to their familiarization with them during the pandemic. At the college level, students opt to purchase etexts and other learning materials through LMS platforms even though students have largely moved away from quarantine-style learning.

However, they are overdue for improving design and meeting students’ needs, wrote Rit Mishra, head of design for Sora Schools.

“We are in a place where outdated and cumbersome platforms will be challenged and replaced by user-centered learning platforms,” he wrote. “The latest advancements in AI and educational technology have raised the expectations and desires of both parents and schools, fueling a drive for this necessary change.”

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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