This one-size-fits-all approach to education has been in place for a couple of hundred years. Now, however, it is undergoing unprecedented change and not just because of COVID.

The response to the coronavirus has demonstrated how technology can help transform how we teach and learn. But the push for change started long before the pandemic struck, and it will go on long after the threat subsides. For years, policymakers have been exploring new transformative approaches to K-12 education that go far beyond just online lessons at home.

Rethinking learning

As lockdowns ease and schools start to reopen in some places across our region, it’s as good a time as any to take stock and look at the likely future of education.

Children who start school from now on will grow up to be workers and leaders in a digital-first world that will demand new skills and new ways of thinking.

To succeed in life and at work, they will need all the social, emotional, and academic support they can get via rich and flexible learning experiences that will differ vastly from the schooldays of their parents.

In short, education’s age-old three Rs – Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic – are being joined by a fourth: Rethink.

New data-based technologies are opening up ways to transform practices, structures, and even cultures in schools.

girl looking at molecular structure

“Technology has changed many aspects of our society over many years, but school structures have largely stayed the same,” says Sean Tierney, Microsoft’s Director for Teaching and Learning Strategy, Asia.

“Now, we have solutions that have the potential to transform and improve the system so students can achieve more and develop valuable skills with better outcomes. The question for us now is: How can we use technology to rethink education?”

Tierney and others want a systemic shift in which education will move away from “a teaching culture to a learning culture.”

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