5 Ways to Keep up with Teaching Trends in STEM
In Africa, less than 25 percent of students pursue STEM-related career fields in higher institutions, and in this small percentage, males dominate. Although, It is no longer news that technology is exploding, the rate of disinterest among African students remains almost unabated. Regardless, STEM disciplines remain extremely important and in high demand in Africa. Having said that, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers are therefore invaluable tools for this cause. This blog delves into the evolution and challenges encountered in STEM teaching in Africa, as well as how STEM teachers could keep up with the ever-evolving trend. Enjoy your reading!
STEM teaching refers to teaching in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; including all educational activities across grade levels. STEM education does not just center on the knowledge of Science and technology; it equips students with critical skills essential for the 21st century; problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and adaptability.
Effective STEM teaching creates an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions, exploring ideas, and delving into the unknown. By posing open-ended questions and encouraging independent research, teachers inspire students to develop an innate desire to uncover the “why” and “how” behind scientific phenomena, as well as what to do next to improve what they already have.
Evolution of STEM Teaching; What has changed?
From Rote Learning to Experiential Learning
In the past, though still prevalent in Africa, STEM education often relied on rote memorization of facts and formulas. The teachers were more interested in having the students memorize the facts, equations, and figures and had little interest in making them understand what they were learning. However, educators have recognized the importance of engaging students through experiential learning. Locally centered hands-on experiments, interactive simulations, and project-based activities now take the lead, allowing students to explore concepts in practical, interesting ways.
Integration of Technology
Integrating technology into STEM teaching has revolutionized the way students learn. Even Africans have realized it. It is no longer all about physical classroom learning or manual tool work. Online classes, online resources, educational apps, gaming activities, and virtual interactive platforms provide students with tools to visualize complex concepts, conduct experiments remotely, and collaborate with peers globally. This shift has not only enhanced learning, but has also bridged the gap between the technology that’s far from them and the technology around them.
Individualized and Adaptive Learning
Adaptive learning provides a platform for personalized, efficient, and effective learning that actively engages students. Following the recent digitalization in teaching styles, educators can now tailor learning experiences to individual student needs. Adaptive learning platforms use data analytics to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing for personalized learning paths and targeted interventions. This approach ensures that each student progresses at their own pace and maximizes their unique potential.
From Teacher-Centered to Student-Centered
STEM education has shifted from a teacher-centered model to a student-centered one. The role of educators has evolved from being the sole source of knowledge to becoming facilitators and guides. Students are encouraged to ask questions, collaborate with peers and teachers, and take ownership of their learning journey, fostering critical thinking and independence.
Although STEM teaching has evolved over the years, one can’t account for the paramount evidence in the African teaching system. Overall, we’re making progress, and we won’t stop until Africa becomes a breeding ground for STEM to thrive.
Challenges of STEM Teaching in Africa
Promoting STEM Teaching in Africa will help the continent be found among the fastest growing economies; however, this situation is not yet guaranteed given the impending circumstances surrounding it. In order to help the situation, a multi-faceted approach would have to be pursued, which may involve government policies, international partnerships, community involvement, etc. STEM Teaching and overall STEM education are faced with numerous challenges in Africa, and a few of them may include:
- Limited resources
- Teacher shortage
- Insufficient teacher training
- Limited access to technology
- Gender disparity and stereotypes
- Insufficient funding for STEM programs and projects
- Cultural attitudes towards STEM
5 Ways To Keep up with The Trend as a STEM Teacher in Africa
Using online resources
Using online resources to keep up with trends as a STEM teacher in Africa is a valuable strategy that can allow you, as an educator, to stay informed, innovate your teaching methods, and provide your students with relevant and up-to-date knowledge. By looking for relevant online resources such as educational websites, blogs, forums, social media groups, and news platforms that give off African-tailored news, you get updated with any new advancements and subjects.
By joining local STEM education associations or groups, STEM teachers in Africa can stay on top of what’s happening in STEM. These networks provide access to workshops, conferences, and discussions on the current trend. By being a member, you can be sure not to lose sight of whatever modification or update is happening in STEM.
Online courses offer African STEM teachers a convenient way to enhance their skills and stay current with the latest developments. Platforms like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy provide courses on various STEM topics, teaching methodologies, and technology integration. These courses can help teachers adapt their teaching to new trends, improve their content knowledge, and gain practical insights. However, it’s important to choose courses that align with the local African curriculum needs so that these experiments will be adaptive for the students.
Collaborative projects can be a powerful tool for African STEM teachers to enhance their teaching and students’ learning experiences. Partnering with other teachers locally or globally through remote platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts, or collaborative project websites allows for cross-cultural exchanges and diverse perspectives. Collaborative projects can involve joint research, problem-solving challenges, or even creating shared resources. This lets teachers exchange ideas, teaching strategies, and learn best practices for their classrooms.
Teaching training is very important to train our youth, especially girls, in STEM and STEM related fields. Teacher training workshops are invaluable for African STEM teachers to develop their skills and keep up with the latest educational practices. These workshops provide hands-on training, interactive sessions, and expert guidance on topics like curriculum design, pedagogical techniques, and technology integration. WAAW Foundation STEM Teachers Training is one that equips teachers with digital educational solutions like e-learning courses, digital literacy skills, and other learning programs that’ll make them bring STEM content to life in their different classrooms. To register for our free teacher training, click on Register.
In order for STEM education to thrive in Africa, it is not enough to be a STEM teacher. Even the best STEM teachers may lose sight of what’s on board if they don’t get updated with the current subjects, news, and methodologies that they can implement in their classrooms. By implementing the above outlined strategies, you can become better and grow every day as an African STEM teacher.