Students need a curriculum that will help them prepare for the 21st century work environment. If each teacher decided to teach the curriculum in the same manner that you were taught, teachers would be doing a huge disservice to students. There are three new major trends in the K-12 curriculum that will help students prepare for the “real world” upon graduation: digital delivery, interest-driven and 21st century skills (Barseghian, 2011).
1. Digital delivery:
When I was in elementary school, we used encyclopedias for the most up-to-date source of information for our class projects. Now, classrooms are using online sources, as well as e-books and e-readers, in the classroom to ensure that the information is up-to-date. YouTube posts videos everyday that teaches subjects such as the French Revolution to Calculus; there is even a specific website like YouTube called TeacherTube dedicated to educational talks. TED talks inspire students in different subject areas and museum exhibits are made interactive online. Learning through these interactive sources can promote a progressive style of education where you learn through experience (Dewey!).
2. Interest-driven subjects:
Research has already shown that students’ interests directly correlate with their achievement level. When substituting, I have seen how teachers integrate student interests into the curriculum. For example, some math teachers taught the concept of an x- and y- plot by having the students pick the x- and y- factors (ex. one student chose to graph cell phone minutes used by money spent toward the cell phone bill). There are several schools that use this concept of interest-driven subjects as the driving force for their whole school. One such school is in Southern California—Forest Lake Elementary School—which uses “personalized learning” for its students.
3. “21st Century Skills”
Collaboration, innovation, critical thinking, and communication are all considered “21st century skills,” or skills that are important practical skills that can be used outside the school environment (Barseghian, 2011). Students need to also be able to search effectively and efficiently online, as well as understand the content that they take from these online sources. This skill is increasingly important as students now have multiple ways to access the internet: smart phones, TVs, e-readers, iPads, and computers.
These three trends in integrating technology into the curriculum are crucial for students to be successful in an increasingly online environment. To be able to search, as well as understand and sift through multitudes of information online, is an important skill teachers can teach their students to prepare them for the “real-world” outside the classroom environment.
Barseghian, T. (2011). Three Trends That Will Shape the Future of Curriculum. Mind/Shift. Retrieved from: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/02/three-trends-that-will-shape-the-future-of-curriculum/.