Innovative schools: teaching in the digital era

Innovative schools: teaching in the digital era

28 Aug 2023

The digital revolution is changing the way we work, organise and live. It is also changing the way children and young people play, access information, communicate and learn. But so far, this revolution has not transformed most schools or most classroom teaching and learning. How can we make schools more innovative and responsive to the needs and opportunities of the digital age?

One of the biggest challenges we face today is redefining the skills that students need to excel in the 21st century. According to a 2018 report by McKinsey, the skills required by the workforce of the future are changing due to the introduction of automation and artificial intelligence (AI). In the last 5 years, this change has accelerated, and it's evident that skills such as technological, social, and emotional skills are becoming more important, while others like physical and manual skills are becoming less important. Schools must prepare students for this changing landscape and equip them with the skills to adapt and succeed in a rapidly changing world.

A second major challenge in education is to create a culture of innovation and change in schools. This requires the willingness and ability of teachers, leaders, and other stakeholders to embrace new technologies and practices. To achieve this, it is essential to invest in the professional development and empowerment of teachers, who are the key agents of change in education. Teachers need to have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to use digital technologies effectively and creatively in their teaching. They should also continue to learn and innovate in their practice, supported by institutions and proper legislation. Teachers need autonomy and resources to experiment with new ideas and methods and to collaborate with other teachers and experts inside and outside the school.

Another of the challenges that schools face is finding a balance between the use of digital technologies and the development of human values and skills. While digital technologies can provide numerous benefits and opportunities for teaching and learning, they can also pose several risks, such as cyberbullying, privacy issues, digital addiction and misinformation. Schools need to be aware of these potential dangers and take steps to prevent or mitigate them. It is not an easy task and there are certainly other actors involved, such as families and parents, but schools also play a role. For instance, they can promote digital citizenship and digital literacy among students to help them use digital technologies responsibly. Additionally, schools can encourage social and emotional learning and well-being among students to help them develop their self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, communication, and collaboration skills. These skills are crucial for students to cope with the stress and uncertainty of the digital age and to build positive relationships with others.

In conclusion, schools that are considered innovative are not just the ones that use the latest technologies, but the ones that use them wisely and strategically to enhance teaching and learning in the digital age. These schools also prepare students for the future by not only teaching them the necessary skills but also by inspiring them to be curious, creative, and lifelong learners. Lastly, innovative schools are those that foster a culture of innovation and change, where everyone is willing and able to learn, grow, and improve together.

By Cosimo Bartoloni