What to Expect in the Coming Year

Experts weigh in on education themes and trends in 2023.
Feb 9, 2023
Safe to say that the coming year will hold some unexpected developments.

Predicting the future is never an exact science but there are certain themes emerging that will shape how education works in 2023.

Foremost, be prepared to experience some turbulence from the wider environment and in technology as AI interfaces make their mark.

There are two themes or megatrends that stand out this year: one, disruption; two, finding Purpose says Professor Donna Pendergast from Griffith University.

"Disruption will continue to be a major theme in 2023. 2022 was a messy year. Disruption due to COVID, the impacts of digitisation, climate change and a range of forces continue to shape the future of education. 

"The point about disruption is that it unsettles the status quo. It accelerates some change that might have been expected over a longer period and reveals obsolescence. 

"An important feature of disruption is the risk of snapping back to familiarity, and comfort at the idea of returning to how things used to be. 2022 was the year that showed educators that snapback is neither desirable nor possible.

"Finding Purpose is a trend sweeping workplaces, and education will not be exempt. In education, that might raise questions such as: who our teachers are; what our curriculum should be to prepare learners to not only survive, but to thrive; and how do we teach in a world where wellbeing, ethics and sustainability are increasingly valued.” 

Professor Pasi Sahlberg at Southern Cross University feels that AI will introduce a new source of uncertainty.

"Because of the absence of research to inform us to what to do with AI now, educators and policymakers need to rely on professional wisdom and innovation of practitioners more than before.

"Some are grappling with how to prevent students from using ChatGPT for assignments and homework. Others are looking for ways how to teach students to use rapidly improving AI for deeper learning. ChatGPT is an impressive tool and it is only going to get better - very fast.”

Sahlberg asked ChatGPT how educators can respond to the disruption it will bring about and its recommendations make sense, number 1: Develop a strategic plan for integrating AI into teaching and learning practices including goals and objectives for implementation.

Professor Tonia Gray of Western Sydney University thinks that in this time of rapid technological change, a return to the natural setting will be one response.

"I predict a trend towards nature-based solutions, inspired and supported by nature. The idea of outdoor health encompasses the range of evidence-informed outdoor practices that include nature as a key setting, element or partner towards intentional human and environmental health outcomes. 

"Time spent in nature is causally linked to childhood well-being. Bringing nature into classrooms, and classrooms out into nature is a chance to broaden and democratise access to the outdoors, helping equip students to face the multiple challenges they will inevitably confront throughout life.”

Professor Mary Ryan from Australian Catholic University thinks that 2023 will provide opportunities to shape the future of education beginning with the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan taking shape.

“The success of this Action Plan will depend on brave and sensible decisions around implementation. For example, the necessity to attract more (and diverse) people into teaching is paramount, yet we are not seeing a flood of additional applications to date. Any incentives need to remove barriers and highlight the incredible expertise that is developed through a teaching degree.

"Teachers are more likely to stay in the profession if we remove unnecessary administration tasks, provide intellectual challenge, and establish different pathways and role descriptions to keep them engaged. But for those who leave for other opportunities, let’s make it attractive (and seamless) to come back with those new experiences.

"Second, and related, we have the proposed University Accord, which I hope will address the persistent and complex issues around professional placements. We need better partnership agreements, infrastructure and processes that ensure high quality, diverse placements.

"Many of the recently funded projects in education focus on teacher workforce so I expect to see some emerging evidence to support the ways in which we manage complex issues around teachers’ work, their development and retention."

Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, University of Newcastle, AARE, adds that, "The crippling teacher shortages of 2022 will continue to be a major challenge for teachers and school leaders with status, recruitment, preparation and retention key issues to address.

“One reason to be optimistic leading into the 2023 school year is that the new government appears to be taking reform seriously.  

“The government’s National Teacher Workforce Action Plan which proposes 27 initiatives aimed at turning around teacher attrition offers an opportunity for important policy and practical solutions. Our work on Quality Teaching Rounds professional development is one such solution in the Plan to be initially applied to the critical area of teacher induction.   

“Frustratingly, the new National School Reform Agreement has been delayed until 2024 to provide time for another review. However, much better to get it right than repeat mistakes of the past. Drawing on and investing in rigorous evidence of successful initiatives will be key."

Image by Mo Eid