Use Them Wisely!
Prediction-making and data-gathering are motivated by human curiosity and a drive to comprehend and manage our environment, physical or otherwise. Our innate desire to understand the world around us and predict the future is a part of who we are. Data analysis guides our decisions and makes us feel safer in our informed choices. Making forecasts is prevalent in the education industry as well, as you will notice, with thousands of articles having the words “top 10 trends for 2023” in their title.
Why do we follow education trends? Education does not only have a significant impact on individuals and communities, but it is also, at the end of the day—like it or not—an industry. Schools, colleges, and universities are commercial entities. Keeping up with new developments and innovations in the field not only helps provide quality education to learners, but also establishes the educational institutes’ technological acumen.
How To Avoid Overreliance On Trends In Education
Overreliance on education trends and predictions can be problematic, as it can lead to a lack of critical thinking and a failure to consider alternative perspectives. How can you mitigate overreliance on education trends and predictions?
- Be aware of your own biases and assumptions when interpreting trends and predictions.
- Seek out diverse sources of information and perspectives, to get a more well-rounded understanding of education trends and predictions.
- Be mindful of the limitations of trends and predictions, and remember that they are not always accurate or applicable to your specific situation.
- Be open to change and be willing to adapt your thinking and strategies as new information becomes available.
- Always keep the focus on students, the main beneficiaries of education, and their specific needs and goals, rather than following what’s in vogue or touted as the “next big thing” blindly.
Examples Of The Improper Use Of A Trend In Education
Let me elaborate with some examples.
A quick clarification: gamification is the use of game design elements; as you consume content, you gain points, earn badges, participate in challenges, and can see your progress on leaderboards. Everybody has heard of it, everybody wants it. Why? It is said to achieve student engagement and titillate our need to achieve, conquer, and have fun while we are at it. It has been seen to encourage regular participation and motivate learners.
Now, while gamification is a powerful means to motivate learners, because it has been trending for a while, it is frequently applied as a “must have” and a “quick fix” to creating “engaging” courses, often without much consideration for alignment with the unique learning objectives or the needs of the learners. If gamification is applied improperly or in a manner that doesn’t have relevance to the subject matter, it may even serve to reduce the learning experience. Implementation of any trend for the sake of the trend only will cause more harm than help.
With rapidly shrinking attention spans and an alarmingly high number of distractions, microlearning has been quite the buzzword for a while now and will continue to have its attraction. Microlearning consists of short, bite-sized content chunks, in one or more of the following formats:
- Text (catchphrases, brief paragraphs)
- Images (photos, illustrations, memes)
- Videos (think TikTok, the briefer the better)
- Games (single-screen challenges)
Again, EdTech being big business and a multibillion-dollar industry, many have jumped onto this bandwagon, offering quick and easy platforms to help you “go online within minutes and with no technical skills.” Everything is in a template form for one’s ease of use. What could go wrong? Well, in the hands of the inexperienced…everything! Let me explain.
Using EdTech tools without knowledge of how to apply sound Instructional Design principles is like trying to bake a cake without a recipe. You might end up with something that looks like a cake, but it’ll probably taste like a hot mess. It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that some of it will stick. Spoiler alert: most of it won’t.
Make use of EdTech tools and platforms by all means, but keep your learners’ requirements in mind. Learn design principles and Instructional Design theories that have been around for decades and continue to evolve. These are derived from research in cognitive psychology and pedagogy. They lay a solid foundation for relevant content, content that learners are able to understand in theory and apply, in principle and in practical life. Consider:
- Is the microlearning content well structured?
- Is the format chosen relevant to the subject matter?
- Does the format help to engage the learner, aid recall, and foster application?
Don’t rely solely on predictions and trends when making decisions. Instead, use them as one of many sources of information to inform your thinking.