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Education is constantly changing. From student demographics to teaching techniques, many aspects of education change from year to year and decade to decade. Whether you are just entering the field or are a veteran educator, it’s good to stay on top of trends and know where your field is headed. Below are four ways the education landscape may shift over the next few years.

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Technology in the Classroom Will Continue to Grow

The shift to increased technology in the classroom has been happening for a while now, and isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. In the next few years, technology will continue to make its way into our classrooms and education systems in new and diverse ways. Schools will continue to do away with traditional textbooks while replacing them with digital versions. Many schools will issue students their own laptops or personal tablets in an effort to enhance studies and ensure students are getting access to the technology they need when they study at home.

Access to technology may change how students learn and how schools function – but the change will be a learning process in itself as the shift to increasingly digital and technological classrooms brings with it its own set of challenges. Take digital textbooks as an example. Digital textbooks offer a lot of advantages over traditional textbooks. They often cost less, don’t require storage space, are environmentally friendly and often have unique multimedia components that can enhance a student’s learning experience. Digital textbooks also offer an array of challenges. Unless schools offer personal computers to each student, there’s no guarantee that a student will have the digital access they need to complete their work. There’s also no guarantee that digital textbooks will provide a suitable learning experience for every child. And as with anything digital, there’s always the risk of “technical difficulties” cutting into valuable class time and disrupting learning. As more schools move to digital textbooks and educators work to fix these inherent challenges, we could see the education landscape evolve in various ways, from an increased number of staff members with specialized technology training to extended library hours for those students with a greater need for digital access.

Online Education Moves Forward

Continuing education with the trend of technology, we’ll also likely see a rise in online education programs in the future. The market for online degree programs has increased – but it’s not just higher education that’s going virtual. More and more, high school and even elementary school programs are being offered online learning options. Part of the change can simply be attributed to the digital evolution of education. As classroom-based learning becomes more heavily reliant on technology, it makes sense that traditional homeschool-based curriculum would also go the same way.

But online high school and elementary school isn’t just for the tech-savvy, traditional homeschool crowd. An increase in awareness, understanding and diagnoses of learning disabilities is also partly fueling the change. The ability to work at their own pace – and in their own learning style – is appealing to families of students with learning disabilities. Instead of a one-size-fits-all curriculum, online learning offers the opportunity to tailor a student’s learning to their needs.

For other students, online high school programs provide an opportunity to escape some of the social pressures and challenges of traditional schools. Whether they are faced with bullying or social anxiety, for these students, online education programs provide a more comfortable learning environment.

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An Emphasis on Early Education

Thanks to a number of studies showing the long-term benefits of early education, policymakers and educators are starting to place more of an emphasis on high-quality preschool and child care programs, as well as making access to them more universal. Currently, less than 30% of kids under the age of four in America are enrolled in a preschool program. Yet research continues to point toward the importance of these kinds of programs in the cognitive, social and academic development of children. During these formative years, the brain is still growing and developing – making those first few years an important opportunity for education to begin.

With a growing emphasis on early education, it’s natural that we would expect to see a growing need for early education teachers. Between now and 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for preschool teachers will grow 17%, faster than average for all occupations.

Bilingual Education Goes Big

Preschool teachers aren’t the only kind of educators we’ll need more of in the future. Changing demographics in the U.S. are creating more of a need for bilingual teachers and teachers of English language learners. According to the Center for Public Education, minority populations, especially Hispanics, are growing more quickly than the population as a whole. Many in the education field have recognized a demand and now offer Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs.

Changing demographics is only part of the equation. Many schools have language immersion programs in which English and a second language are integrated into instruction and curriculum. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, more than 500 language immersion programs exist in the U.S., with 45% of the programs Spanish-English programs. Although language immersion programs have traditionally been used for foreign-born or non-native English speakers, the growth of these programs today is being fueled by a desire to make today’s students more competitive in the global workforce.

Alliant’s Education Programs

Alliant offers several education programs that can help keep you ahead of the curve. Interested in special education? Alliant’s Preliminary Education Specialist credential can help prepare you to create and facilitate learning environments for those with mild-moderate disabilities. Want to become a bilingual educator? Alliant offers a couple of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) degree and certificate programs.

If you want to explore any of Alliant’s education degree or credential program offerings, contact an admissions counselor or call 1-866-825-5426.

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