Since COVID-19 shook the world in 2020, we have all had to adapt, evolve, and grow flexibly to fit the changes that came across all areas of our lives.
For the sphere of education, this presented some initial overarching challenges. However, schools across the globe have been able to adjust and respond incredibly quickly to an ever-changing situation. For the majority of educators and students, this meant an entirely new way of teaching and learning.
The ISC recently published a report, Teaching and learning in international schools discussing how the pandemic has been a catalyst for change for many schools and education systems, focusing on the use of technology within education.
ISC Research conducted a survey that spanned 69 countries across the globe, with 88% of participants being members of their school’s SLT.
Unsurprisingly, most international schools didn’t offer a blended or hybrid learning model prior to the pandemic. The most common strategies used before COVID-19 began were classroom instruction integrating online resources selected by the individual teacher (83% of respondents), and project-based or problem-based learning (68% of respondents). Most international schools were using a flipped classroom strategy and inquiry-based learning.
Now we are learning how to live with COVID-19 and develop a world that works around it. How does this influence teaching and learning? What have we learned from this pandemic that will create change?
What can we expect to change in international schools?
A significant number of international schools are planning to shift their teaching methods in the near future. More than half (51%) of respondents said their school is likely or very likely to move to a more blended or hybrid learning model within the next two years.
Different types of blended or hybrid learning strategies are being considered. The most likely solutions are classroom instruction integrating online resources selected by the teacher, project or problem-based models, flipped classrooms, self-directed learning, and supplemental blended learning.
Several schools intend to use self-directed learning solutions to broaden current subject offerings in the near future. One school plans to give some students a choice of the learning environment, offering some school-based online courses that students can elect to take in place of an onsite class.
One school summed up a common view: “The key is to create a more systematic offer; a more intentional design.”
Naturally, the cause for this mainly stems from the pandemic, being the most prevalent significant influence impacting change across schools.
How will teaching and learning content develop?
According to the ISC report, teaching and learning content is increasingly incorporating additional collateral to help students develop what international schools consider to be essential knowledge and skills. These content themes vary, but the research identified common areas of focus that are particularly aligned to the international school market. A huge 89% of respondents stated that global context is incorporated into their school’s teaching and learning. 82% said that their teaching and learning includes a focus on host country culture, with 58% stating they incorporate mother-tongue learning support, and 41% integrating bilingual provision.
The development of life skills is also valued and encouraged by most international schools. 81% of all respondents stated that their teaching and learning includes the development of ethical values. An impressive 87.5% of respondents claimed that their schools include wellbeing in their teaching. This is a prominent topic that we have mentioned before in a previous blog exploring the future of international schools. The report mentions that an international school in the UAE plans to appoint a “Director of wellbeing – to continue to improve the quality of learning life.” We expect that we will see more of these roles develop in the future.
Regarding how the delivery of teaching and learning is developing, the survey found that a priority for 68% of the respondents is the development of teaching and learning in a way that supports community wellbeing. Overall, we can clearly see that wellbeing and development of the whole learner are shaping the future of teaching.
What are the changes in teaching roles and school leadership?
According to the research, upskilling teaching staff in line with new developments in teaching and learning will be achieved by international schools in a range of ways. Most professional development decisions are led by school leadership. 79.5% of respondents said that a whole school continual professional development program involving all teaching staff either online or in-person is an approach they will use.
37% of respondents said their school has introduced a new leadership role within the last two years that is specifically focused on technology supporting the teaching and learning within the school. According to the report, several other international schools are planning to appoint tech-focused leadership positions. For 66% of the participating schools, a future priority is the development of teacher skills in the use of a range of educational technology to support teaching and learning.
How can international schools and educators grow?
We can take away several recommendations relating to this research.
- Schools should consider the teacher skills needed for teaching in a blended learning environment. These include technology, content and pedagogical skills.
- Leadership roles dedicated to teaching and learning, and increasingly dedicated to tech-focused teaching and learning are emerging. This should be a priority consideration for schools in the future.
- Schools should use all the available data to improve formative assessment and inform teaching and learning.
- Encouragement from schools should be given to more teachers to take part in leadership or school-level decision-making.
- Schools could consider providing mentoring for all teachers, not just new teachers.
- Schools could make use of online professional development offerings to remove many of the barriers that educators report prevent their access to professional development.
How can we support your school?
At Edmentum, we support schools to future-proof education delivery and prepare for any eventuality. All products across our portfolio fully support distance, hybrid or virtual learning, enabling flexible education continuity at all times. With the support of our products, students can learn, maintain progress and development from anywhere.