Rohan Parikh, Managing Director – The Green Acres Academy and Co-author: Rhea Jaffer, Manager, Research and Outreach, The Acres Foundation

2020 was an unprecedented year for school education as much as it was for the rest of the world. We have experienced chaos, confusion and ultimately great change. Following the absurdity and unpredictability of this year, below is a list of some trends that we can expect to observe in school education in the new year!

  1. More focus on SEL – After a year characterised by uncertainty and unprecedented change, we have realised the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) more than ever before. SEL skills enable us to manage our emotions, relationships and organise ourselves. Adults and students alike will benefit from time spent on SEL especially because of the emotional turmoil this pandemic has created for us all. As a result, schools and educators are likely to focus more on SEL, to create safe and conducive learning environments and trusting relationships for students, including for new and young students.
  2. Digital Learning and Ed-Tech – We have seen digital learning platforms and ed-tech blow up this year. Massive acquisitions and big investments in disruptive education ideas have taken up large spaces in our daily news updates. It is therefore likely that in 2021 we will see parents and students exploring these new offerings and schools may also begin collaborating with service providers to maximise student learning. Especially if COVID19 continues to prevail, we can expect physical industries like in person tutoring to be affected by the entrance of so many digital and tech based players.
  3. Virtual Classrooms and hybrid learning – While we are all feeling hopeful about the efficacy of the vaccines, their impact and reach, what 2021 will look like remains uncertain. Even as schools plan for their physical reopening, the implementation will likely be slow and phased. We can therefore expect virtual classrooms to continue to be a common feature of 2021! Many students will continue to learn online for at least the first half of the year. As physical schools reopen, hybrid learning classrooms will be common. This means, classrooms will make use of a mix of in person as well as online learning methods in order to maximise student learning.
  4. Blended Learning – Finally, blended learning is likely to be a common feature of in person classrooms in 2021! After being forced to use only technology for teaching for close to a year, educators have built their capacity and also witnessed the many merits of technology in the classroom. It is therefore the best time to bring technology into classrooms as students and teachers are now more familiar and comfortable with it than ever before!

Many less obvious changes will also be visible in our learning environments in this new year. We are likely to see greater student agency, as in the last year we have seen students be more responsible for their learning than in any other traditional year. Similarly, parents’ involvement and support became a key feature of schooling during the pandemic and so greater parent participation and community engagement can be expected changes.  Additionally, we have seen great respect emerge for educators while everyone was stuck at home. We can hope that this sense of gratitude and appreciation will continue, restoring in some ways the respect that this profession has lost.

And finally, the new year, if it brings with it some normalcy will also require a great deal of catching up! While educators and education institutions have adapted and showed great resilience, students have certainly experienced losses in learning. As we get back to our normal lives, a big priority will be ensuring that those who have been most affected, are enabled to catch up!

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