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Monday, 27 December 2021

A look at the books shaping education in 2021

The 2021 books in education review: What will our schools look like in the future? What skills are paramount for the students of tomorrow? And what investments do we need to make today to ensure that we stay relevant? These are all questions that administrators, teachers, employers and parents will likely continue to ask as changes take place in just about every other sector of work and play.

Today, we review some of the books released this year, spotlighting some of the most recent trends in learning and teaching. The themes on author’s minds this year appear to center on three aspects: putting education more in the hands of students; the importance of emotional and mental well being for that process; and of course, tech-enabled learning.

All of which bring us back to the question of how education can and is evolving, especially in the covid era where education was fundamentally altered. The Education We Need for a Future We Can′t Predict encourages readers to reassess beliefs about learning and schooling by looking at successful case studies of schools and the strategies that they utilized to improve performance in education. The Future of Education: How to Evolve ‘Old Schools’ to Exciting & Innovative Learning Hubs offers a roadmap for how schools can and should be at the forefront of change in an ever-evolving world, arguing that most schools are not the spaces of innovation that they should be.

The burden is shifting to learners: Evolving Education: Shifting to a Learner-Centered Paradigm looks at why it’s paramount to transition to a learner-centered teaching model by prioritizing social and emotional wellbeing and giving learners the tools, technologies and learning science to put learners in the drivers’ seat. Uncommon Sense Teaching: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn takes a deep dive into how students learn and helps teachers examine whether or not their approaches are inclusive, in an effort to ensure that their students are always engaged.

A path charted by online learning: Reimagining Special Education draws on lessons learned from distance learning during covid lockdowns to create environments and routines that suit different learning styles. With tools and strategies for teachers and administrators, this is a practical guidebook that can help teachers accommodate special education learners and support all learners.

Student-centered learning is key in higher education as well. Half of all students who set out to do a PhD will not complete it, according to The New PhD, while 50% of those who do complete it will never secure full-time academic positions. The New PhD argues that today’s graduate schools use outdated techniques that do not serve all learners equally to prepare students for jobs that just don’t exist. Authors Leonard Cassuto and Robert Weisbuch argue that graduate school must better prepare students for jobs outside of the classroom, spotlighting on-campus innovations that are already happening — as well as charting some of the failures. The authors argue that graduate education should take less time to complete, expand career opportunities and be more socially dynamic, among other things.

Putting the onus on students will help with a very real job market need: That’s the perpetual question, and the answer almost always revolves around job market needs. A recent study out of Nexford University found that 51% of Egyptian employers think that at least 20% of their white collar employees need upskilling, and only last year, the WEF’s Jobs Reset Summit reported that 50% of employees globally would need reskilling by 2025, with critical thinking and problem solving topping the list of required skills.

Social and emotional development continue to be central to learning: One of the most important post-covid-lockdown undertakings of teachers and administrators has been addressing the gaps in students’ social and emotional development created by social distancing and lockdowns. In Leading Schools With Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD), the authors take a closer look at the resources that educators are lacking in their efforts to ensure that SEAD is being delivered in classrooms and provides frameworks to embed SEAD into learning systems to improve academic achievement.

And then there’s tech, starting with how online and machine-based learning are here to stay. UDL and Blended Learning: Thriving in Flexible Learning Landscapes is a guidebook for teachers and administrators on how to adopt universal design for learning (UDL) and hybrid learning approaches to meet the needs of learners with different needs in different environments.

Tech is the new literacy: Edtech and innovation have been two of the top trends in education in Egypt in 2021 — no surprise given the rude disruption that covid-induced lockdowns brought to classroom learning over the past two years. As we noted last week, interest in edtech only seems to be accelerating as K-12 and university students return to in-person classroom learning, with innovation and STEM skills topping priorities for educators and institutions. Read Write Code: A Friendly Introduction to the World of Coding, and Why It’s the New Literacy by Jeremy Keeshin opens educators’ eyes on why coding is the new literacy. Keeshin’s approach is suited to the uninitiated, walking teachers, administrators and parents through the basics of programming, AI, the internet, data, apps and cybersecurity, among other things.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • The private sector really likes higher education: Pan-African private sector higher education operator Honoris United Universities signed a transaction to acquire Merit University in New Sohag City, marking Honoris’ entry into Egypt.
  • The Sovereign Fund of Egypt and Mobica broke ground on two schools in the Cosmic Village, a defunct state asset on a prime piece of real estate spanning 190 acres in Sixth of October city.
  • Weather forces (excessive?) school closures: Classes were suspended for several days in a handful of governorates due to bad weather, leading some to voice concerns on how the closures will affect students.

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