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How to Build a Modern School – 6 Key Elements to Embed in Your Groundwork

Modern schools prepare their students for a future of ever-changing opportunities and technological innovation. To help educators and administrators, we’ve identified 6 key elements of a modern school. From creating mission statements to integrating future work skills, there is a lot that goes into modernizing education.

Read on for the full list of modern school elements and how to implement them.

Modern School can be defined as a school developed for students who are living through the 4th industrial revolution and the current changing educational environment. Designing a modern school will be an ongoing process for those in educational leadership. The process of rejuvenating an educational system set up a few hundred years ago will take generations to redefine.

Creating a new system that will fit the needs of students for the next century will be a multifaceted endeavor. The foundation of building a modern school will be based not only on futuristic architecture or fancy technology but designing advance learning spaces and learning environments. It will be about rethinking the foundations of what is education, teaching, and learning.

There are 6 key elements that would create a foundation for modern education. 

6 Key Elements of a Modern School

1. Redeveloping a School’s Mission Statement

A mission statement is a summary of the aims of why the organization exists, its goals and its core values. A school should frequently revise their mission statements to reflect the needs of the students and the communities they serve. Problems arise when they become “dated, expressing the values of generations past rather than the current needs and sentiments of the community,” according to

It will be up to educational leaders to define which goals would best produce future leaders. For example, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls not only emphasizes intellect but also social skills in its mission statement. This school recognizes that there is a gap in Millennials and Generation Z’s social skills fueled by growing up on mobile phones, social media, and online chatting. In fact, 65% of Millennials in a study felt they are not confident in face-to-face interactions on a survey from One Poll. These types of societal challenges faced by whole generations should be solved while students are building their fundamentals at school.

Other aspects that will become very important for a modern school’s mission statement would include ideas around tolerance, environmentalism, humanity, globalism, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

2. Choosing an Education Model Wisely

There are many education models being used to create environments where students will want to learn and can succeed. Examples are STEM, PBL, Inquiry-Based Learning, Interdisciplinary, and Base Learning. Alternatively, there are new educational models such as Freedom-based Learning, Social Constructivism, Critical Pedagogy, Spiritual Developmentalism, Integral Education, and others.

All these models and the many new ones to come are seeking to replace what is being used today. Some are just trendy and will fade away in a few years. Others will stick around for a while or be absorbed into superior models. When building a contemporary education system choosing which educational model to use will be a challenge.  

3. Figuring out How to Do Modern Assessments

There are many kinds of assessments on the educational landscape. Here are 6 major learning assessment categories from

  1. Diagnostic Assessment
  2. Formative Assessment 
  3. Summative Assessment
  4. Norm-Referenced Assessment
  5. Criterion-Referenced Assessment
  6. Interim Assessment

Many of these assessment categories are used in combination to create more holistic assessments of student achievements. Some are used periodically to see where students are at in their learning process, give them practice in applying the concepts, and prepare them for further cumulative assessments. Others are used before and after the instructional periods. No matter which methods are being used, it is recommended to use different types of assessments to create a well-rounded educational environment.

Another challenge to assessment design will be how not to emphasize assessment achievement in schools. A well-rounded education should not just be about grades and high marks. It needs to take into consideration the student’s ability to succeed outside of the formal educational environment. Importance should be given to how to translate report cards and test scores into a student’s ability to contribute to society.

A balance of different assessment methods and the de-emphasis on assessments will be a major pain-point for schools. The creation of new assessment methods and delivery methods of assessment will vastly change this key aspect of educational design.       

4. Adopting Technology Integration in Education

As with aiding assessment delivery, technology integration or EdTech innovation will lead to the most drastic shifts in education. Technology integration can be split into different levels as described by Dr. Ruben Puentedura in the SAMR Model. SAMR is an acronym standing for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. These four groupings provide an outline on how to cluster different ways to implement and integrate technology in education. Read more about the SAMR Model here.

The SAMR Model is useful as a scale for understanding how technology affects and influences education. Currently, most teachers would use lower levels of technology integration to either substitute or create functional improvement to their teaching tasks. In the future, many EdTech innovations will allow technology to significantly transform teaching tasks and develop fresh teaching techniques.

Below are three examples of transformative EdTech innovations:

  1. Gamification in education is a key movement in EdTech. Companies like Clockwork Brain are turning critical thinking for children into fun challenging puzzles.
  2. VR technology like Google Tour Creator will allow students to create and take virtual tours anywhere around the world in an immersive 360-degree environment.
  3. Digital interactive whiteboards from solutions providers like ViewSonic will provide specially designed digital whiteboards created for classrooms. These digital interactive whiteboards will promote student interactions, sharing, and rich content creation. They also come with software packages that allow teachers to produce and manage their lessons using the latest technologies.

Technology integration in education is unstoppable as our lives depend more and more on our devices. The selection, integration, and successful adoption of such technologies will take much effort from teachers and administrative staff.    

5. Modern Classroom & Campus Design

The modern school most likely will not look like the schools we went to 20 or 30 years ago. Many decisions need to be made when redesigning the classroom such as seating arrangement, collaboration zones and show casting areas. This can also be applied to the whole school on a larger scale. Top school architecture firms will help schools think about how spaces can best serve their students, teachers, and administrators’ needs.

Another factor to consider is gathering data from the use of these spaces, which would entail integrations of big data analytics and concepts of the Internet of Things(IoT). Technology-capable devices will transform basic classroom items like Student ID cards, whiteboards, doors, and desks with more capabilities and functionalities. The classroom and campus of the future should be able to deliver real-time insights, safer environments and efficiently use resources.

6. Integrating Future Work Skills

One of the main goals of receiving a good education is to be able to find a great career in the future. The World Economic Forum report The Future of Jobs 2018 identified two major trends that will affect the future of work for the students of today:

  1. Robotics, AI, and Automation will displace 75 million jobs and at the same time create another 133 million new jobs.
  2. Flexible work, contract-based work, and the gig economy will cause a major shift away from full-time work according to over 300 global companies surveyed.

Education today should prepare students for these two major trends in their future work environments. By the year 2022, jobs like Data Scientist, AI Specialist, and Digital Transformation Specialist will take the place of declining jobs like Data Entry Clerks, Accountants, and Factory Workers. As educators, we need to design courses and lessons that will integrate skills that will be needed for students to get such careers.

How to Build a Modern School – 6 Key Elements to Embed in Your Groundwork

Begin to Build Your Modern School

As with any major shift in systems, the change management process of defining and implementing modern education design will be a hard one. We can either adopt popular organizational change management models or create one specifically for education.

For example, the McKinsey 7-S Model from organizational change management analyzes seven aspects of an organization and how they affect each other during the change process:

  1. Strategy
  2. Structure
  3. Systems
  4. Shared Values
  5. Styles
  6. Staff
  7. Skills

Using such tools will help schools align different aspects and give guidance in finding the optimal transition process.

Bring It All Together

Much leadership, planning, consultants, solution providers, system integrators will be needed in developing modern schools. It will be a multi-layered complex change to the whole education system. Not only will teaching environments but also how we teach and what we teach will go thought systematic changes. If successful students will come out ready for the deviations that the 4th industrial revolution will bring.

Learn more about topics around EdTech and education at