On 9 December 2020, the OECD Teacher Working Group (TWG) gathered online to discuss the Future of Education and Skills 2030 project, which was launched by the OECD in 2015. The project aims to develop a global “common understanding of the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values students need in the 21st century” and is divided into two thematic phases: The redesign of curriculums in phase 1 and the curriculum implementation in phase 2. The main focus of the TWG meeting was to discuss the results of phase 1, in particular, the launch of two reports, addressing the challenges of reducing curriculum overload and time lag respectively. In particular, the meeting brought together stakeholders in education to evaluate how the gained insights could be used for the work on curriculum and what implications of these reports bring about for teachers, their agency, wellbeing and competence.

In this regard, three students and two teachers were invited to share their views with participants in the framework of a panel discussion round. The first question addressed to students was the one of what impact technology can have on their learning performances. Students commonly agreed that the use of ICT tools in daily classes comes about with positive impacts for their learning process with regards to understanding tasks and helping teachers to provide feedbacks with regards to homework. However, students also highlighted that ICT tools such as apps do not replace the importance of teachers with regards to providing feedback and structured guidance for learning. In this regard, students demanded that the feedback and structure teachers provide should me more tailored to the needs of the individual students. Concerning the quantity of homework, the majority of students noted that they have experienced a pressuring overload of homework during the pandemic. Furthermore, students criticized that teachers wouldn’t check their homework, leading to a further decrease of motivation on the side of students. Against this backdrop, students suggested that teachers should focus more on quality instead of quantity when it comes to the homework, providing learners with explanation on the purpose of the respective homework. Furthermore, students advocated for incorporating the option of doing homework collaboratively together with peers as this would foster social skills further.

The concerns raised by students with regards to homework overload were well received by the participating teachers. In order to keep students motivated, interactive exchanges between teachers and their students need be strengthening in daily distance and classroom teaching. Furthermore, the participating teachers noted that the way of teaching should become more tailored to the individual needs of the students. Regarding the use of ICT tools for their teaching, teachers reported of different experiences. While some teachers noted that their school was digitally not well prepared for distance learning, others stated that they were satisfied with the digital provision of their schools. Also with regards to impact of ICT tools on the quality of teaching, a mixed picture was drawn. Participating teachers noted that one of the benefits of ICT tools is that enable more students to express themselves better. Also, they highlight the importance of social learning. On the other hand, however, students would have become more and more zoom-fatigue, leading to more assignments and, consequentially, homework overload.

The discussions on this question will go on in the TWGs in spring next year and will be concluded on in the Global Forum, taking place from 10 until 12 May either in digital or physical presence in Estonia. Therewith focal point of discussion will the elaboration of teacher agency in the context of the learning compass 2030. As the European education employers, EFEE is committed to creating a safe and healthy workplace environment for everyone and is therefore delighted to join this campaign.

For more details, please contact samira.buhrer@educationemployers.eu