K-12 Education Trends in 2023 and a Glimpse Into 2024

It’s the dawn of a new year, which means an opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future—and what a bright future it is for the world of education. While teachers, parents, and students alike faced their share of challenges in 2023, the progress seen in academics has the potential to shape how students learn for generations to come.

Some of the eye-catching headlines included topics such as artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom, game-based learning, and a parent’s right to choose a school for their child. Let’s do a recap of these topics, how they changed education in 2023, and what we can expect from them in 2024.

AI in the Classroom

It should come as no surprise that the use of AI in the classroom is a controversial topic. As schools began implementing AI tools to assist teachers, many parents and even teachers expressed concern that this could depersonalize learning. And yet, it has proven to do the opposite. Here’s how:

  • Lessons and learning materials can be adapted to each student’s personal learning needs and pace. If a student is not quite grasping a concept, more time or information can be provided automatically to that student.
  • Using a set of grading guidelines, also known as a rubric, AI can grade and provide detailed feedback for assignments and tests. Teachers have full authority over final grades and feedback, but this can help reduce the time spent grading, and thus allowing for more one-to-one interactions between teachers and students.
  • Teachers can view classroom analytics that detail student performance and learning trends, providing helpful insights for future lesson plans and assignments.

Looking toward 2024, we should expect more finetuning of these tools whether that means advancement in what’s currently available or revolutionary technology. For example, a report by the Department of Education from May 2023 explains that context is an important next step. AI relies on patterns to automate decisions, rather than situational judgment. Researchers are working to address context sensitivity and develop platforms that are responsive to individual characteristics and situations. Other experts say that AI will be used to determine whether a typical school day and classroom lessons should be restructured as the global economy rapidly evolves.

Playing to Learn

There is an inherent human tendency to be motivated by challenges, rewards, and competition. So, it makes sense that games can effectively capture a student’s attention and fuel their motivation. In fact, research shows that games can be a powerful teaching tool that increases participation and promotes social-emotional skills.

That’s why schools like K12-powered online schools have incorporated exclusive Minecraft Education game-based lessons in their classes. Through these games, history comes to life for students who can explore historical settings like Ancient Rome or Egypt in a virtual universe where they interact with their surroundings.

Virtual or augmented reality is another increasingly popular tool for immersive learning. Through platforms such as IXR Labs, medical students can stand inside of the human heart and see how each part functions, while aerospace engineering students can gain hands-on experience designing and constructing a jet engine.

While game-based learning is not new to education (think back to games like Math Blaster or Oregon Trailer on a large PC in your school), it’s rapidly evolving and growing in popularity. In 2024, we should expect this movement to gain momentum as technology advances and offers more options for learning resources. Career prep and training is one field that is expected to benefit from game-based learning in 2024, while others say that students will soon have the opportunity to be completely immersed in a fully formed universe, zooming through space from one planet to another.

Parental School Choice

In 2023, nearly half of all parents surveyed across the United States reported that they were actively seeking a new school for the 2023-24 school year. The National School Choice Week survey, which took place in May 2023, explored whether parents were satisfied with their child’s school experiences. And while nearly 45 percent of parents reported that the current school year was better than a previous year and 34.4 percent said it was relatively the same, only 54 percent of parents planned to keep their child enrolled in their current school.

As the school choice movement grew in 2023, it’s clear that the status quo simply isn’t working for many families. And this is just the beginning of a massive shift in education. A heavier focus has been placed on meeting students where they are, taking into consideration their individual characteristics, experiences, and learning styles.

This is why the online classroom has become an increasingly popular option. Online school offers flexibility and personalized elements that are not typically found in a traditional classroom. And many parents and their children are eager to explore these different avenues for learning to find the right fit.

In 2024, we can expect the school choice movement to continue making headlines as parents take control of their children’s education, finding the right learning environment that can truly complement each child’s individual needs and goals.

Looking Forward

Education is changing. Schools are finding new ways to engage children and incorporate elements like games and AI that can help keep them actively participating and interested in content. While parents are seeing the possibilities in different school options to help their children reach their fullest potential. It’s an exciting time to be involved in academics, and we can expect to see progress and advancements by leaps and bounds in 2024.

To learn more about online school and its benefits, go to K12.com.

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