Dr Christopher Thomas is Director of Partnerships for The Yidan Prize Foundation

We will be studying the last 12 months and its educational impact for decades to come. The closing of schools, colleges and universities in response to the global Covid crisis impacted 1.7 billion students globally (UNESCO)[1]. While we are starting to understand the huge academic, social and emotional impact that has had on students worldwide, it will take generations to comprehend the full toll of this unprecedented disruption.

But it is so important that we ensure our focus isn’t limited to understanding and mitigating the educational losses brought about by the pandemic. We have a duty to make our post pandemic perspective more ambitious and hopeful than that.

We owe it to future generations to find ways of sustaining the global creativity, collaboration and capacity for transformational change that we have witnessed across education systems in the past year.

That’s why I’m honoured to be the Director of partnerships for the Yidan Prize Foundation which has just established a visionary new Council of Luminaries. This multi-disciplinary council brings together innovators from neuroscience, education, economics, research and psychology to accelerate change and action within education and it is this type of bold, cross sector approach that has never been more needed.

So what can this new council and other educators, innovators and policy makers take from the pandemic that can help shape a brighter, better global education system in the future?

It’s a daunting question, but for me there are four clear outtakes we can build on to ensure that positive renewal as well as loss mitigation shapes education over the coming years...

  1. We have to recommit to the right to education 

The right to an education has become an increasingly accepted notion over recent decades. But when the pandemic forced the shift to online learning, we saw millions of students sat on the wrong side of the digital divide, unable to access the remote learning resources, lessons and lectures their schools, colleges and universities creatively provided.

Across the world only 57% of learners have access to the internet leaving over 700 million students offline and locked out of learning during the pandemic[2].

So our way of thinking about the right to education needs to change. In light of the impact the digital divide has had in blocking many students’ access to education in the past year, UNESCO is now rightly campaigning for an expansion to the definition of a right to education that recognises connectivity[3].

We have to also think about digital education as a public good – a good that should not be rationed by affordability, geography, or any other barrier. If we are to create a truly inclusive global education system, we have to push for a future of open digital educational resources, platforms and tools.

There are already some powerful examples of this in action. Anant Agarwal – a previous Yidan Prize winner embodies this approach – with the EdX platform he created providing free online access to over 2000 courses from over 130 higher education institutions. Khan Academy also provides open access, benefitting tens of millions of students worldwide. And PhET, a resource for science education, created by Yidan Prize winner Carl Wieman, provides interactive resources for science and mathematics educations that have been downloaded more than 800 million times, in virtually ever corner of the world.

With more sharing initiatives like this, more open-source platforms and tools and a redefinition of the right to education we can ensure that tech becomes a force that makes education inclusive rather than exclusive in the future.

But of course with inclusivity in mind, we must also be mindful of the fact that digital access isn’t yet relevant to all communities. When shaping the education system of the future, lockdowns have shown us that digital access must be a priority consideration, but it mustn’t be our only one. As well as opening up access to digital resources, platforms and tools, we have to continue to provide quality non-digital materials for those who are a long way off accessing a digital education.

  1. We have to put social interaction at the heart of the educational experience 

With students across the world having to go without in-person interactions with fellow students, teachers and lecturers for months at a time over the past year, the pandemic has created a watershed moment in our appreciation of the social and emotional aspects of education.

A recent study by the mental health charity MIND discovered that nearly three quarters (73%) of students in the UK said their mental health declined during lockdown[4]. These are sobering stats that we can’t afford to ignore when considering the systems of the future.  

Many of these students – thanks to the ingenuity of educators – were learning throughout this time. What they lacked were social interactions and emotional connections and the pandemic shone a light on the huge damage that is done when these are removed.

We now have a greater appreciation than ever before of the multi-dimensional role educators and institutions play in creating fully rounded individuals – academically able but also mentally, socially and emotionally healthy, positive and able to cope with the challenges of the future. Learning is a social

With technology and AI’s influences a growing force in education, we have to acknowledge that digital learning – though creative and effective where it can take place – should only ever an input to the educational experience. Future education systems have to prize the now undeniable benefits of human interaction, togetherness and collective experience as much as the drive for sharing academic knowledge digitally. After all, learning is – and has to be – a social undertaking, with each novel interaction stimulating curiosity, creativity and expression.

  1. We have to give students the tools to embrace their new independence 

The rapid pivot to online education created by the pandemic necessitated new levels of independent learning for students across the world. Whilst this undoubtedly resulted in social isolation it also gave many learners a unique opportunity to stretch their goals and test themselves as independent learners. These are trends we must look to embrace in the education systems of the future.

One of the members of our Council of Luminaries, Carol Dweck, has become renowned for her work on the ‘growth mindset’ and never has the need to embrace this thinking at the heart of future educational strategy felt more pressing.

As the recently launched OECD report, Sky’s the Limit: Growth Mindset, students and schools in PISAoutlines, growth mindset takes as its premise the notion that intelligence is a malleable rather than fixed asset that can be enhanced with curiosity, resilience to failure, and a passion for learning[5].

Lockdowns have brought the need for these learning skills and positive attitudes to the fore as never before, bringing to life the huge potential of this increasingly popular educational strategy. As revealed in the OECD report, the impact of a growth mindset on motivation levels can be significant, with students coached in growth mindset strategies studying for 209 minutes a day compared to just 157 minutes a day for the control group[6].

This is because students with a growth mindset know that persistence and hard work shapes the result. And that is crucial.

While those with a fixed intelligence mindset will believe their academic and future life outcome is largely pre-determined, those with a growth mindset will embrace educational opportunities and consistently set themselves higher aspirations and more challenging learning goals. In fact, studies have shown that those with a growth mindset consistently outperform those with a fixed mindset even after accounting for socio economic and attitudinal factors[7].

So growth mindset interventions are potentially one of the most cost-effective tools educators have to simultaneously improve equity and raise achievement overall, which

brings me onto my final outtake… 

  1. We have to enable global collaboration at scale

The last 12 months have brought about a burst of creativity, best practice sharing, co-creation and collaboration across the education sector – at a scale few would have anticipated.

We can’t allow our new, very understandable, focus on mitigating national educational losses to undermine this positive trend for global collaboration. Because there is so much of real value to share, explore and build.

If we are to use the full potential of this watershed moment in education we have to make the creation of a truly collaborative international research infrastructure a priority for education. And we have to give practitioners a role at the heart of this infrastructure so that innovative research and policies, like growth mindset, can rapidly become meaningful, effective and contextualised practices across the world.

The speed at which Coronavirus travelled around the globe provided us with a reminder of how small our world really is and how intrinsically our systems and futures are linked. Getting education ‘right’ is now – more than ever – a truly global concern. But it is also an inspiring global challenge that we can embrace and be excited by in light of the transformational changes we have already seen over the past year…

Christopher Thomas, Director of Partnerships for the Yidan Prize Foundation

Dr Christopher Thomas is Director of Partnerships for The Yidan Prize Foundation - a foundation dedicated to promoting a better world through education. The newly formed Yidan Council of Luminaries is a multi-disciplinary council dedicated to building a global education system more responsive to the challenges of the 21st century and more inclusive for the millions of children marginalised by today’s systems.

The council brings together 16 innovators from across the fields of neuroscience, education, economics, research and psychology to accelerate change and action within education. 

[1] https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse

[2] https://en.unesco.org/news/startling-digital-divides-distance-learning-emerge

[3] (UNESCO – Education in a post covid world: Nine ideas for public action (International Commission on the Futures for Education)

[4] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/student-mental-health-during-coronavirus/

[5] Sky’s the limit: Growth mindset, students and schools in PISA

[6] Sky’s the limit: Growth mindset, students and schools in PISA

[7] Sky’s the limit: Growth mindset, students and schools in PISA

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 10 hours 50 minutes ago

What do we need to keep from the past year of...

In partnership with Capita. Schools in 2019 looked much like schools in 1919. Schools in 2020 were radically different. Could it be, now that new...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 10 hours 50 minutes ago

How worried should we be about lost school time...

In partnership with Nuffield Foundation.The disruption to formal schooling over the past year has left children having covered less of the...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 10 hours 50 minutes ago

Have we lost sight of education’s purpose? | The...

In partnership with BigChange.There are reasons why the English school system is built the way it is: a complicated system of exams, assessment and...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page