December 8, 2023

Use them wisely!

Making predictions and gathering data is driven by human curiosity and the drive to understand and manage our environment, physical and otherwise. Our innate desire to understand the world around us and predict the future is part of who we are. Data analysis guides our decisions and gives us a sense of security in our informed decisions. Making predictions is also prevalent in the education industry, as you will notice thousands of articles with the words β€œTop 10 Trends for 2023” in the title.

Why do we follow trends in education? Education not only has a significant impact on individuals and communities, but is also – whether we like it or not – ultimately an industry. Schools, colleges and universities are commercial entities. Keeping up with new developments and innovations in this field not only helps in providing quality education to students but also creates technological acumen in educational institutions.

How to avoid overreliance on trends in education

Relying too much on education trends and predictions can be problematic because it can lead to a lack of critical thinking and a failure to consider alternative perspectives. How can you mitigate over-reliance on education trends and forecasts?

  • Be aware of your own biases and assumptions when interpreting trends and forecasts.
  • Seek out diverse sources of information and perspectives to better understand education trends and predictions.
  • Be aware of the limitations of trends and forecasts and remember that they are not always accurate or applicable to your particular situation.
  • Be open to change and be willing to adapt your thinking and strategies as new information becomes available.
  • Always focus on students, the primary beneficiaries of education, and their specific needs and goals, rather than blindly following what is fashionable or touted as the ‘next big thing’.

Examples of incorrect use of the trend in education

Let me elaborate on a few examples.

1. Gamification

Quick explanation: gamification is the use of game design elements; As you consume content, you earn points, earn badges, participate in challenges, and can see your progress on leaderboards. Everyone has heard of it, everyone wants it. Why? It is said to achieve student engagement and tease our need to achieve, conquer and have fun while we are at it. It was seen to encourage regular attendance and motivate students.

Now, while gamification is an effective means of motivating students because it has been trending for some time, it is often used as a “must-have” and a “quick fix” to create “engaging” courses, often without much consideration for alignment. with students’ unique learning goals or needs. If gamification is applied incorrectly or in a way that doesn’t relate to the subject matter, it can even serve to detract from the learning experience. Implementing any trend just for the sake of trending will do more harm than help.

2. Microlearning

With rapidly shrinking attention spans and an alarmingly high number of distractions, microlearning has been quite the buzzword for some time and will continue to attract attention. Microlearning consists of short pieces of content in one or more of the following formats:

  • Text (main phrases, short paragraphs)
  • Images (photos, illustrations, memes)
  • Videos (think TikTok, the shorter the better)
  • Games (single screen challenges)
  • Quizzes

Again, EdTech is big business and a multi-billion dollar industry, many have jumped on the bandwagon and offer quick and easy platforms to help you “get online in minutes and with no technical skills”. Everything is in the form of a template for easy use. What could go wrong? Well, in the hands of the inexperienced…everything! Let me explain.

Using EdTech tools without knowing 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 will probably taste like hot mush. It’s like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks. Spoiler alert: most of it won’t be.

By all means, use EdTech tools and platforms, but keep in mind the needs of your students. Learn the design principles and theories of instructional design that have existed for decades and are constantly evolving. These are derived from research in cognitive psychology and pedagogy. They lay a solid foundation for relevant content, content that students are able to understand theoretically and apply in principle and in practical life. Consider:

  • Is the microlearning content well structured?
  • Is the chosen format relevant to the subject?
  • Does the format help engage the student, aid recall, and support application?

Conclusion

Don’t just rely on predictions and trends to make decisions. Instead, use them as one of many sources of information to help you think.

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