Integrated Learning: A 21st Century Method To Streamline School Education

An education entrepreneur, Dev has been associated with Next Education for over a decade now, prior to which he had worked with Onicle, Infosys, and PartyGaming, and even incepted FreshPixel India.

In the last decade, we have witnessed a significant shift in the teaching approach. The traditional teaching approach is non-interactive and limited, while 21st century teaching pedagogy focuses on technological awareness at an early age. Schools today are incorporating the ‘best of both worlds’ approach. Unlike the traditional grading system, the emphasis has shifted upon the overall personality development of the students.

Comprehensive learning with real world experience does not happen in 30 or 40-minute periods within the four walls of a classroom. It is essential to provide interdisciplinary collaboration and enriching curriculum along the way. While in the past years, mastery in the core academic subjects was the measure of attainment, 21st century demands a radically different orientation, where students need to think critically, communicate effectively, and collaborate & solve problems, to name a few abilities.

Why shouldn’t we immerse our students in learning environments that challenge them to engage in interdisciplinary thinking? When it comes to fostering creativity, adaptability, critical reasoning, and collaboration in the classroom, integrated learning is an extremely effective approach. An integrated curriculum promotes learning that is synthesized across subject areas and learning experiences that are designed to be mutually reinforcing.

Building More Inclusive Schools with Integrated Learning
An integrated curriculum connects different areas of study by cutting across subject-matter lines and focusing on unifying concepts. Integration encourages students to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that can be connected to real life. There are numerous advantages of adopting an integrated approach to teaching:

The integrated curriculum approach makes students more aware of content-area connections, dissolves the boundaries between disciplines, and fosters stronger student-teacher relationships

1. Broadens the thinking horizons of students: By learning concepts in an integrated format, students can learn to view and think about ideas from myriad aspects. Holistic teaching empowers students to think out of the box and combine various aspects together to understand the applications of what is being taught.

2. Facilitates comprehensive learning among students: Through an integrated curriculum, students can grasp the concept faster and retain it better. It is because, in an integrated approach, they get to connect the content with the real world.

3. Encourages active participation in real-life experiences: Students not only connect and establish connections in real-life contexts, but they are also more actively engaged. This is an essential element of integrated learning, as it helps students to understand the world through a refined lens. Additionally, teachers are charged with having to create challenging yet interesting tasks based on the curriculum to help students assimilate the concept faster.

Through integrated learning, the teacher gains confidence and understands the capability of the students. In turn, students gain knowledge, dispositions and required skills. Integrated learning focuses on the following approaches:

Student-centred Learning: Student-centric learning ensures that students are engaged and interested. It provides them with many opportunities to think critically, construct knowledge and extend what they have learned, thus enriching their learning experience. This method of teachinglearning inculcates among students a sense of personal responsibility and motivation to succeed.

Active Learning: In modern classrooms, students participate in active learning by working in groups for projects and activities that help them discover new skills. This simplifies complex concepts by adding visual elements & context and helping students understand ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of a concept.

Personalized Learning: The modern approach of personalized learning gives students the freedom to learn at their own pace. Artificial Intelligence-powered adaptive learning motivates teachers to focus on personalized teaching for more outcome-based learning.

Collaborative Learning: Learning in groups broadens the scope of learning, develops critical thinking, and redefines the traditional student-teacher relationship. Collaborative learning activities include collaborative writing, group projects, problem-solving, debates and more.

Critical Thinking: Critical thinking involves the evaluation of sources such as data, facts, observable phenomena and research findings. Through integrated learning, students can become good thinkers, draw reasonable conclusions, and make informed decisions.

Enriching the Education System: The teacher weaves knowledge of the subject and the interest of children into the fabric of the classroom teaching. Integrated learning solutions offer online teacher resources, test generators, class performance analysis, and automated reports for parents, all accessible through mobile apps. It not only delivers instructional content in the desired manner, but also measures and monitors the delivery of content and student performance. Such platforms make use of various kinds of tools such as cloud computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence for effective delivery of content according to the learning objectives.

The integrated curriculum approach makes students more aware of content-area connections, dissolves the boundaries between disciplines, and fosters stronger student-teacher relationships. It encourages teachers to work together on developing innovative and interactive curriculum, thereby increasing collegiality. Integrated learning enables all stakeholders – students, teachers, parents, and the school staff – to attain their goals. To put it simply, we learn at a deeper level when we make connections in the real world.