Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing
60% of Americans say that traditional education systems are failing today’s students. The statistics paint a grim scene for today’s youth. Teenagers today are 5 times more likely to suffer from mental illness than teenagers of prior generations. University freshman only remember 40% of what they were intended to learn during college-preparatory high school classes. Today, more than 168 million children around the world lack access to in-person learning.
While the pandemic has had many negative consequences, one positive thing it may have done is change how students perceive online schooling. A majority of students now feel better about online learning in a post pandemic world. Only about a fifth of teens prefer in-person schooling. Online education brings with it many opportunities for a more flexible schedule, a safer environment, and greater involvement opportunities for families.
Students are less likely to encounter bullying in online school. Because transition time and classroom management issues are reduced in online formats, online learning takes 40% to 60% less time than traditional formats to teach the same information. Greater flexibility and time efficiency should be utilized to the student’s advantage. Technology changes require the next generation to have a different skill set. Analytical thinking and creativity may be more important than rote memorization. Learning and relearning are necessities in rapidly changing environments, and traditional school environments make that flexibility difficult to achieve.
Two different initiatives online learning could pursue are project based learning and alternatives to traditional grading systems. Project based learning is more personalized and hands out than traditional lecture formats. It encourages students to build critical thinking, learn creativity, and invest in improving their own knowledge. Test scores indicate that students retain more knowledge after project based units, with improvements ranging from 17% in science to 63% in social studies.
On the subject of test scores, the traditional grading system is a poor way to encourage learning. Many students put in just enough effort to earn their desired grade. They aren’t motivated to learn the material for its own sake. Grades also create stress and higher stakes, both of which make the learning process more intense than it needs to be. 80% of students fear their parents care more about their grades than their happiness. Instead of letter or number grades, descriptive feedback can encourage self reflection and help the student connect current learning with future aspirations. Online school presents new opportunities.
About the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on Linked