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Making Students Future Ready: What’s Next in Education

Eric Sheninger

Technology continues to transform society. It’s also changing how and what students need to learn in schools.

Gone are the days when students had to memorize facts and figures to succeed in school, or work, or even to navigate everyday life. Increased automation in many of America’s largest industries signals a monumental shift in what middle-class jobs will look like in the not-too-distant future. To stay competitive, future workers will have to learn entirely new skillsets.

K12 schools are at the forefront of a knowledge and skills revolution, says former principal, education researcher, and best-selling author of the new book BrandED, Eric Sheninger.

We recently sat down with Sheninger and asked him to identify near-term trends for the nation’s K12 schools. He suggested three ways to equip students for success in a changing workforce.

So, what’s next?

Check out the other installments of What’s Next for Education. And stay tuned for future installments in the series.

1. Schools need to move to a more competency-based approach

While many schools sharply focus on teaching skills, Sheninger suggests schools should focus instead on competencies.

A competency, Sheninger explains, is a more nuanced understanding of how skills work to achieve goals.

As he wrote in a recent post on his blog:

“Skills focus on the ‘what’ in terms of the abilities a student needs to perform a specific task or activity. They don’t provide enough connection to the how. Competencies take this to the next level by translating skills into behaviors that demonstrate what has been learned and mastered in a competent fashion. In short, skills identify what the goal is to accomplish. Competencies outline ‘how’ the goals and objectives will be accomplished.”

Strong competencies put students in the position to navigate an increasingly technical and complicated world, Sheninger says.

2. Schools need to provide students with human-specific skillsets

From Amazon’s Alexa to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence is becoming a regular part of everyday life. As AI becomes commonplace, human understanding, emotion, and creativity will be at a premium, Sheninger says.

To be successful in this new technological landscape, students will have to excel at these human-centric talents.

“When we think about artificial intelligence, if we don’t prepare for AI by preparing our kids with those human-specific skills that artificial intelligence can’t do, we’re setting them up for failure.”

3. Schools need to make learning more personal, not just focus on personalized learning

Personalized learning has become a popular buzzword in recent years.

With easier access to online content and personal learning devices, schools have discovered new value in letting students learn at their own pace.

But there’s a difference between personalized learning as it works in schools today, and the potential for educators to make learning more personal for every student, Sheninger says.

The key is to give students more power and ownership over their own education. That starts with giving students a stronger voice by inviting them to provide feedback about what and how they learn.

Do you agree with these trends? Are there others that you think should be on this list? Tell us in the comments. Or, share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #WhatsNextTrustED.