We often hear doom and gloom about the lack of student interest in STEM education. While the numbers are disconcerting, there are reasons for optimism.
In this article, we’ll give you a glimpse at what could be in store for the future of STEM education and reveal the seeds of game-changing innovation that is already happening.
Personalized student curricula in real time
The “one class one curriculum” model was great for school houses when there were limited teachers and books and lots of students to teach. Today, this model is seriously outdated. Instead, in many classrooms, technology is being implemented so that teachers can provide personalized learning tracks, helping teachers to meet each of their student’s needs individually.
For example, Arizona State University took some of their math students out of the classroom and into a computer lab to analyze their results and then create personalized lesson plans around their strengths and weaknesses. Instead of one curriculum taught at one speed for many students, this program enabled professors to give personalized guidance and provide real time adjustments to each student’s lesson plan.
Taking students out of the classroom and into the real world
The Royal Society in the UK recently released a report, Vision for Science and Mathematics Education, which detailed a plan to advance UK STEM education in the 21st century.
One major proposal was to integrate science careers into STEM curriculum by bringing career awareness into the primary school curriculum. With the goal of never hearing a student ask, “How will math help me in the real world?” the report calls for information about how math can benefit careers that aren’t obviously labelled ‘mathematics’. This information should be part of the learning material, not something that children accidentally encounter outside of school.
We are already seeing this in practice at the University of Washington. Researchers have created a high school science curriculum that brings in real scientists in the fields the students are working on, and has them complete contemporary scientific work. For example, in one high school class, students participate in an investigation to identify a species through DNA analysis.
Virtual classrooms replacing real classrooms
Pew Research recently released a report, Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age, which made some predictions for the future of internet technology in 2025. The report was optimistic about the future of education technology, with one expert predicting that gigabit internet speeds will “make today’s virtual classroom work as if it were a real classroom.”
At Labster, the future is now. We have flipped the lab, taking it from the real world and replicating it virtually, allowing teachers and students alike to complete high quality virtual labs with only a laptop or iPad/tablet.