No, we’re not talking about “curricular fidelity”
Educators have a love-hate relationship with trends. On the one hand, the promise of some education trends is to make teachers' lives and jobs easier. Those are trends that excite teachers. On the other hand, many trends feel like top-down directives from individuals far removed from the frontline.
When I first heard the term "STEM," for example, I was unsure whether this was a suggestion or a mandate. As a world language teacher, did I need to fully accept STEM subjects as proverbial kings of the content hierarchy? Would not being "on-trend" in the STEM race mean I was a lousy educator?
What makes so many educators bristle at the idea of "trends" in education is the underlying idea that you’re teaching wrong.
So allow me to be clear: this is not a piece about transforming your teaching in 2024. This overview of trends in education is not about passing on tools because you need them.
Instead, this is a look at the things in 2024 that can work alongside the good work you already do. This is about celebrating your teaching and examining the things that may make it easier. Or not. After all, the person who can best assess these trends' value is you.
Education trends for 2024
Teachers have contradictory feelings about artificial intelligence in education, and understandably so. Early 2023 was a time of collective uncertainty for teachers as they began interacting with generative AI tools. But as we move forward into 2024, the conversation around AI is shifting focus.
Education industry leaders have taken a proactive approach to harnessing the power of AI to improve student outcomes. We're just one of many who are exploring the possibilities of AI in education.
“Almost two years ago, we submitted a research proposal,” begins Jamie Sterling, VP of Product, CL Next, at Carnegie Learning. “Our vision was of an AI-generated digital tutor who would help educate AND encourage/engage students. … At the time, many thought we were too close to science fiction.”
Now, a year and a half into the project, we launched LiveHint AI, a first-of-its-kind generative AI tutor trained to “think like a student.” AI is making it possible to hyper-personalize learning for students and increase content mastery.
As with all new tools, teachers can expect to require training in AI. In our recent survey of 1,033 educators, 50% of teacher respondents indicated that a lack of training and support was one of their biggest challenges with AI.
Sterling predicts that in 2024, “there will be a lot more professional development offerings around artificial intelligence education for teachers. This is an opportunity for us all to better support educators in this brave new world.”
Gamification in education has been trendy since before Kahoot graced us with its maddening loop of lobby music. Recent years have yielded a new crop of tech tools to gamify your classroom, and don't expect that to change in 2024.
Some teachers use gamification tools (like MATHia Adventure!) to support teaching, while others use existing platforms to “gamify” their entire lessons. Expect this shift to continue as teachers collaborate and EdTech continues to innovate in this area.
This isn't a new phrase in the education sector, but one that is steadily rebounding in popularity post-pandemic. The current iteration of "learning by doing" has existed in education spaces for decades. Its exact application, though, varies from setting to setting.
The term includes off-campus experiences, like studying abroad or doing a part-time apprenticeship while in school. "Experiential learning" can also be a synonym for "student-centered instruction" and highlights the importance of hands-on experience in an immersive learning environment. While the confines of the remote learning era made interactive learning experiences challenging, many educators are now finding their way back to this buzzy teaching method.
In 2024, expect to be asked about the role of experiential learning in your instruction.
The best part? I can all but guarantee you already include some version of experiential learning in your class. It could be a web quest, lab, assessment, field trip, student project, or something else. But as long as it offers students a chance to steward their own learning, it's experiential!
The term may be new to you, but it's just a rebrand of something you already do. I don't know exactly when the death knell sounded for our collective attention spans, but I do know we're way past that marker.
As a result, you've likely had to adjust aspects of your teaching. The pacing of your class and your curriculum is not the same as it once was. You probably assign less homework than you once did. Have you noticed that students can't even pay attention to a class movie anymore?
Enter "microlearning," which breaks down information into smaller chunks, making it easier to learn in shorter sessions. Microlessons should be 3-5 minutes long and can have text, images, audio, video, or interactive elements.
While microlearning has a basis in actual learning research, microlessons do seem to mimic the content we consume from social media. Short lessons help learners remember information better and fight against the "forgetting curve" by grabbing their attention.
In 2024, expect the K-12 space to continue conversations about student engagement and attention spans. Even if the microlearning trend may not be a priority for you this year, consider what insights you can glean from the model.
A teacher pet peeve of mine was receiving student emails like: "hey did i miss anything 2day?" And I'm apparently not the only one.
Already a talking point in the broader conversation of "educating the whole child" is the idea of teaching "soft skills." The insular worlds of our handheld devices have had undeniable effects on how we navigate social spaces. Our Gen Z students need help developing traits that were once thought to be second nature.
Employers want employees with skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and time management. For most students, at least part of their success in future careers will be dependent on this type of skill mastery.
Social-emotional learning is definitely a component here, but soft skills encompass a bit more. Soft skills such as people management or developing attention to detail have broader practical applications than aspects of SEL curricula.
One of the biggest hurdles, of course, is determining who the best steward of this knowledge is and how to best impart it in K-12 classrooms.
As we transition to 2024, expect soft skill development to be on the table for discussion.
Prioritizing the trendsetters
Ironically, the biggest trends in education for 2024 aren't inherently "trendy." Instead, they're reappropriations of discussions we've been having for years—and will continue to have into the future. What makes these (and others) "trends" for 2024 is the lens through which we view them.
These are not dramatic changes for you to make. These are not rebukes of your tried-and-true ways. AI, gamification, experiential learning, and microlessons aim to make teaching easier and learning more fun. These tools and trends are there to facilitate more joyful experiences in the classroom.
In 2024, the ultimate education trend is to realize, dear teachers, that none of this would mean anything if it weren't for all of you.
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Before joining Carnegie Learning in 2023, Kelly worked in education for ten years as a classroom teacher and an administrator. She holds both a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in French and began her career writing for the press office at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. She is a certified ACTFL OPI rater, an AP French Exam reader, and taught out of Carnegie Learning's T'es Branché? curriculum for six years.Explore more related to this author
Ironically, the biggest trends in education for 2024 aren't inherently 'trendy.'