The Classroom of the Future is Here – Time To Embrace It

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Children working in the Go-lab at Crawford international school. Destin Africa
Children working in the Go-lab at Crawford international school.

As schools move toward online, digital and remote teaching as a result of Covid-19, it is time for a mindshift regarding the future of learning, educational experts say.

“Some parents may be tempted to take their children out of school until the world returns to normal, but the fact is, the world has changed forever, and even when students return to school, they will be building on the skills they developed during ‘lockdown’,” says Jenny Coetzee, Managing Director at Crawford International School Kenya.

And those schools which have not yet ensured that their online offering can closely reflect

their face-to-face offering, are almost certainly working toward it as a matter of urgency, she says.

“Progressive parents have in recent years realised the importance of ensuring their child’s educational journey prepares them for the workplace of the future, by enrolling them in schools which focus on developing – in addition to the traditional curriculum – 21st Century Skills and Global Competencies,” she says.

“ADvTECH, Africa’s largest private education provider and parent company of Crawford, has been investing in ensuring all schools are ready and able to develop these skills in line with global best practice for many years. That is why our schools were able to react quickly and effectively to the situation in which we now find ourselves, and why we are able to continue delivering the highest quality of academic excellence and a full curriculum – including physical education – by way of technology,” she says.

It is therefore inevitably important for schools, parents and students to embrace this progressive way of teaching and learning – the new normal. Even as we look forward to getting back to our usual physical interactions, we understand that traditional forms will no longer dominate learning; technology is increasingly taking the front seat.

“The unique and unprecedented circumstances in which we now find ourselves, provide a perfect opportunity to develop and entrench those global competencies which otherwise might not have received sufficient focus during normal school time,” says Coetzee.

“We have known for some time that the world is changing, that the skills required in the workplace are evolving and that the workplace of the future is going to look much different from what used to be the status quo only four weeks ago. Now, all of a sudden, we find ourselves thrown into a completely new paradigm and it is quite clear that the world will not be the same after this. It is becoming clear that blended learning – a combination of online and contact learning – will be the new norm in the future. 

“So what better time to develop those global competencies and master 21st Century Skills than during the biggest global disaster in recent history? We have been preparing for the future for some time now, and the way we are currently working is what we would have been practising when at school. Now we are no longer preparing for the future, we are living it. The future is here today.”

Coetzee says ADvTECH Schools have integrated Global Competencies in their curricula for several years, and that those schools and educators who have not yet had the time to do so or have treated these as peripheral, now have the perfect opportunity to embed them in “normal” teaching and learning.

Coetzee says the new way of working also brings exciting new opportunities.

The Global Competencies of THINKING skills (creative, critical and reflexive), RESEARCH skills (collecting, recording, organising, interpreting), COMMUNICATION skills (personal interaction with others), SOCIAL skills (personal behaviour) and SELF-MANAGEMENT are the only ways that teachers and students will navigate this period – and what follows it – successfully.

“For instance, we’ll be twinning with a top New York school, Scarsdale High, partnering with educator Lisa Yokana, who took first place globally for STEM curriculum development alongside one of our teachers, Felix Malombe, who took second place. We are currently developing lessons which allow our and their learners to develop and entrench their collaboration, research and problem-solving skills with their peers thousands of kilometres away, in a different country. Our teachers spent the entire 3 weeks of their holidays receiving training from ADvTECH’s head office in South Africa, to ensure they are able to effectively deliver the full curriculum online.”

Another school group which is ready to embrace the future of learning, is the iconic Makini Group of Schools, where ADvTECH recently invested heavily in order to become the owner-operator so that the full might of its institutional capacity can be applied to the benefit of the educational journey of students.

“It’s rather fortuitous that we are now in the position to leverage the capacity of ADvTECH’s Central Academic Team, which will allow us to adapt to our current reality with resilience and clear direction,” says Education Director Angelica Ouya.  

“While Makini has an unparrelled track record in education, we are now looking forward to responding creatively and pioneering ways to respond to requirements of the future, using the resources available to our students,” says Ouya.

She says it is important for learners to continue on their educational journey, to ensure they consolidate prior learning, and also to adapt robustly to what will be required now and into the future – not only at school but also at workplaces, where remote work will become the norm rather than the exception.

She says globally, parents and students have embraced the new face of the educational journey, and that Kenyan schools and parents must not be left behind.

“The time is now for all of us to do what we can with what we have – and of course to invest where we need to – to ensure we continue creating the leaders of tomorrow, who can stand confidently on the global stage next to their peers, even if they will be doing so virtually. Let’s ensure that we don’t miss this opportunity to allow our children to experience and develop these skills which will be invaluable going forward,” she adds.

Ouya says that if the schools remain closed for a long time, and learners do not engage in the virtual learning, they may unlearn many of the skills they currently have, as well as falling behind on the new skills their peers are gaining. Now is the best time and opportunity to develop the resilience and grit of our children, she reminds us.

ABOUT ADvTECH

The ADvTECH Group, a JSE-listed company, is Africa’s largest private education provider and a continental leader in quality education, training, skills development and placement services.

ADvTECH’s Schools division comprises 10 brands with more than 100 schools across South Africa and in Kenya Crawford International School with a Cambridge-based curriculum (IGCSE) and Makini Schools which offer Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) and the Gaborone International School in Botswana.

It owns nine tertiary brands, on 30 campuses across South Africa and the rest of Africa. The higher education division, The Independent Institute of Education, is South Africa’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.