Steps Educational Institutes, Universities, Schools and Colleges are Taking for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Not only the corporations, but also the educationists, educational institutions, schools, colleges, universities, government officials, teachers, students, and parents must put their thoughts on reshaping education to prepare the next generation to take advantage of the immense opportunities brought forth by ever-growing technological enhancements.
Over the initial years of evolution of mankind, the education system did undergo several layers of metamorphosis. In ancient days, training and skill building of any form, was driven by the needs of the civilization. You had the option to understand your own interests and then channelize your energy on something you were good at, which helped further in achieving expertise in your chosen field. Gradually as the medieval age set in, there were improvements in living standards which consequently induced several upgrades to the prevalent systems including administration, taxation, housing, healthcare and so on that evidently impacted the education system. A major paradigm shift took place around the later part of the twentieth century that extended further into what is called the modern civilization.
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Over the last five decades, in particular, the exponential growth in technology created enough enablers to intervene in every aspect of the way people earn a living and live life. However, one area did not experience the much-needed improvement and that’s the education system worldwide. Albert Einstein believed “Education is not Learning of the Facts, rather Training of the Mind to THINK”. The gap existing between the current education system and the present day work environment across industries needs to be bridged. Not only the corporations, but also the educationists, educational institutions, schools, colleges, universities, government officials, teachers, students, and parents must put their thoughts on reshaping education to prepare the next generation to take advantage of the immense opportunities brought forth by ever-growing technological enhancements. It will help one and all to adapt as well as overcome the challenges enabled in the new world, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is steering in.
Taking a step back, let me recapitulate that every Industrial Revolution has resulted in a major transformation of human life circumstances. The First Industrial Revolution utilized water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second IR used electric power to create mass production. The Third IR utilized electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is developing on the Third, the digital revolution that has commenced since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a synthesis of technologies that is blending the lines between the physical, digital, and biological domains. it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the dimensions of these changes proclaim the transformation of the entire system of production, management, and governance.
The shifts are enabled by emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, augmented reality, blockchain, the Internet of Things, digitization and automation. These technologies are moulding every industry across the world at unprecedented velocity. For our children to be prepared to engage and thrive in a world alongside smart machines, they will need to be educated differently than in the past. Through this post, I would like to share an excerpt from a conference on “Impact of Technological Evolution on Future of Education” which I happened to attend last weekend. I felt so enriched with the brilliant innovative ideas shared by the panelists and was surprised to learn about some interesting steps which are getting implemented by educationists in collaboration with technologists to create a well thought bright future for our children.
Redefine the Objective of Education
Since ages, it has been the need of the society during that era, which defined the objectives of education. Since the society has also evolved with time, the objective of education must be redefined in accordance. Until now education was believed to help a person to do something through a job or business in order to earn a living. So, if you had built your skill in an area of expertise, you were well off in life, but not anymore. The future will demand multiple skills from an individual irrespective of the profession. Even medical practitioners like doctors, therapists, radiologists, pathologists and nurses need to build skills in managing the work where they have robots as colleagues. As we move farther into the future, the education system should support children to be flexible to not only build the skill set, but also to develop the mindset to do anything in their future rather than a single thing.
Enhance STEM Education
STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education needs enhancement across the globe regardless of education stage, board, income levels, age, or gender. It’s an ascertained fact, every individual in the future will need some technical skills and improvement in STEM education is warranted, but it's important not to adopt an either/or mentality. Students need help to understand the values that will enable learning, how to use the new emerging technologies ethically and morally. Therefore, humanities training and human professionals will continue to be an integral part of the system. In fact, according to The Future of Jobs Report 2018 (https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2018) from the World Economic Forum, corporates desired employees with critical thinking and collaboration skills much more in comparison to those with technical skills.
Build Human Potential
Its human interaction that all are craving for, which no technology can substitute. Even though machines are mastering many tasks typically performed by humans, people are still more proficient at creative endeavours, imagination, cognitive abilities, critical thinking, social interaction, and physical acumen. The educational system of the future needs to build these inherent abilities in humans early in life, so they are equipped to liaison with machines in the future rather than compete with them.
Embrace Lifelong Learning Models
The Fourth Industrial Revolution necessitates that to thrive and grow, it will not suffice to get qualified in a field, rather you must develop the mindset to learn, unlearn and relearn continuously. Futurists believe as the days go by, several operational and redundant processes will be taken over by machines, however, the revolution will enable new job creation for which human resources need to be prepared. In fact, according to a report by Dell Technologies and Institute for the Future, 85 percent of the jobs in 2030 don’t exist yet.
Structured education can no longer end after leaving school or college or university. The future of work will demand continuous and sustainable lifelong learning endeavour, and sources for education need to evolve to provide those opportunities. Attributes such as creativity, curiosity, ingenuity, analytical, critical, cognitive and design-thinking will be essential for the future workforce. People will no longer start a career path and only grow with one role, so nurturing competent lifelong learning becomes essential.
Train the Trainer
Need to understand this with complete mindfulness, “Cannot continue teaching today’s students in the same fashion as yesterday’s, else we deprive them of tomorrow”. Instead of teachers pouring out information to students that they then memorize, teachers will become mentors and coaches to guide students to facilitate their own learning. Teachers must be trained to encourage students to try out new ideas and embrace failure without fear. The education system is going to incorporate this practice as a core principle in the new model of teaching. Additionally, teaching will be much more personalized, which will be supported by inducting latest exponential technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
Better Infrastructure in Institutions
Corporates are taking initiatives to improve the infrastructure in schools, colleges, universities and institutions so that the learning environment becomes more conducive for students to try out their curiosity, problem-solving skills, innovative skills and the iterations of failure. The purpose of educational institutions is to build a future wherein students will be empowered to give shape to their creativity using a broad variety of physical and digital tools. It will act as an enabler for children to be more creative in their approach and help them to experience the joy of doing more hands-on practical oriented exercises collaboratively in an endeavour to create a better future.
Employees of the future will need to have a global mindset in a digitally stronger, interconnected world. Educational institutes and educators must inculcate better practices to adapt learning by taking this into account. For example, geography or history might not be taught from the perspective of one nation but rather with examples from around the world. Also, instead of teaching the same languages that have always been taught, schools will need to look at international demand and the languages of emerging markets. These strategies will go a long way in the growth of a country at a global level, encourage cross trading and strengthen international relations.
Upgrade Higher Education
Graduation and post-graduation courses will undergo major changes. Some existing practices and theoretical curriculum may get eliminated altogether in order to introduce state-of-the-art modern learning methodologies. Educationists are already inviting corporates and thought leaders to provide innovative ideas to make higher education more practical oriented to enable students to get better trained by the time they finish college or university. Futurists predict that with the support of the corporates, educationists, educational institutions, schools, colleges, universities, government officials, teachers, students and parents, the future will see a major change in curriculum to accommodate the improvements induced by the Fourth Industrial Revolution as well as to create stronger bonding between institutions of higher learning and the industry. College qualifications will become shorter and more focused, and colleges will provide more life-long sustained education with modular post-graduation qualifications throughout the working lives of individuals. This will also impact how earlier education levels will need to modify their college preparatory classes. It necessitates that the initial steps for this type of learning are set early in schools by offering students the opportunity to learn topics beyond their core curriculum and to develop a passion for learning early in life.
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