They say that desperate times call for desperate measures and education is no exception. In fact, in the last five years since the economic downturn, education has been one of the hardest hit sectors. There have been many dramatic changes to the US economy with regards to various financial markets and individual industries. However, the educational system, being the bedrock of all other specialized fields, has a significant stake in the "state of the union."
Here are the 10 biggest educational trends that defined the attitude of people towards learning all across the United States in 2013.
1. Financial Worries. Due to the fallout of the 2008 economic recession, as average household income levels declined in the US and the price of education went up, the value of the funds available with families for financing education went downhill. According to the research carried out by The Lawlor Group, a renowned name in college marketing and consulting, the net combined cost of college education, including tuition fee, board and lodging, averaged $24,000 in 2013. This is almost half of the yearly earnings of a typical American household. The 2013 outlook on higher education in the U.S. was also viewed as negative by Moody’s Investors Service due to strained revenue sources. The US government shutdown in October 2013 due to an over-extended federal debt has definitely impacted the education sector as well.
2. Online Education. Over the years, more and more technological integration has been witnessed in various educational environments. Online degree programs are becoming more and more popular due to their ease of access and instant delivery of learning tools and knowledge-based content.
3. Technology-based learning. Coupled with high-speed internet and mobile platforms such as tablets and smart phones, acquiring education has become more of a virtual exercise than a traditional one that requires physical presence.
4. Digital Literacy . The value and efficiency of imparting education through digital rather than conventional means such as physical paper-based books has also been hailed by teachers as being a crucial trend by around 65% of college and university level teachers.
5. Role of Social Media. Social media is not just limited to sharing songs, music videos, TV shows, movies and serving as an advertising platform. Websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have become mediums of visually appealing learning content, so much so that they have come out from the private domain of the students and taken center stage in classrooms.
6. Prioritizing and Public Perception. The capacity of families to meet the cost of college education has reached it very limits. Students are now taking factors such as the ROI (return on investment) into account more and more and deciding which majors to specialize in accordingly.
7. Demographics Versus Graduates. Where the overall number of high school graduates seeking college education is decreasing, the ethnic diversity is witnessing an expansion. More population demographics are being represented in student bodies in institutes of higher learning each time around.
8. Age and Wisdom. The post-recession educational environment saw an increasing number of students aged 25 and above seek admission in colleges. This also increased the demand for more flexible class schedules and workload to accommodate them.
9. MOOC Magnetism. The MOOC phenomenon has been gathering steam since it appeared on the scene in 2008. Standing for 'Massive Open online Course,' it enables students to acquire very specific learning, usually for free with just a computer and the internet.
10. Work and Play. The use of video games and interactive white boards in classrooms is becoming increasingly popular, leading to the coining of the term GBL (game-based learning).
What Teachers Have to Say
Edudemic.com, a prominent web portal for bringing teachers, students and higher education administrators on a common platform, conducted a survey of what teachers felt regarding educational trends. Up to 60%-70% of higher education teachers feel that web-based tools and resources for education purposes as well as digital literacy constituted the most significant trend.
Teachers have mixed opinions on how the deteriorating economy has affected education. For instance, the president of Vassar College replied in response to Moody’s negative assessment of higher education that there is a need to differentiate between the temporary and permanent economic fluctuations and not apply them across the board.
However, according to the results of a poll conducted by the Carnegie Corporation and the TIME magazine in late 2012, an overwhelming majority of senior administrators of colleges and universities across the U.S. (96%) expressed deep concern on the crises that higher education was entrenched in. Yet, around half of them agreed that higher education was moving in the right direction.
(*) Kim Lee started working as an education and career reporter in college and have been working as a freelance writer for Online Education. She has completed bachelor in marketing from university of North Carolina.