Education 4.0 … the future of learning will be dramatically different, in school and throughout life.

January 24, 2017

Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and how we learn and develop the skills to work in the future. The concept of a “100 year life” becoming the norm, and the majority of that spent studying and working, means that learning will be a lot more important, and different, for the next generations. Most people will have at least 6 different careers, requiring fundamental reeducating, whilst the relentless speed of innovation will constantly demand new skills and knowledge to keep pace, let alone an edge.

I recently delivered a keynote on “Changing the Game of Education” … a vision for the future of education, from schools to lifelong learning … how it will evolve, the drivers, inspirations and what will matter most.

Educationalists debate the many ways in which the content of education – at all levels – and the process of learning, will need to change over the years ahead. Disruptive innovation guru Clay Christiansen, for example, points to the dramatic unbundling of education from its current forms so that it can be personalised, repackaging, peer to peer and continuous. Whether it is classroom or workplace, online or offline, structured or unstructured, taught or learnt, standardised or not, certificated or not, then learning is likely to break free from our old mindsets in the coming years.

“Education 4.0” is my vision for the future of education, which

  • responds to the needs of “industry 4.0” or the fourth industrial revolution, where man and machine align to enable new possibilities
  • harnesses the potential of digital technologies, personalised data, open sourced content, and the new humanity of this globally-connected, technology-fueled world
  • establishes a blueprint for the future of learning – lifelong learning – from childhood schooling, to continuous learning  in the workplace, to learning to play a better role in society.

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“Changing the game” is all about redefining the way an activity works. In general, its about

  • who are the companies right now who are reshaping their industries, challenging the old rules and creating new ones, new ways of working, new ways of winning
  • in my Gamechangers book I explored 100 of them – they are audacious, harnessing the power of ideas and networks to be intelligent, collaborative, and enabling people to achieve more.
  • taking the principles of how these companies change the game – how can we apply that to the world of education?

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“The future of education” is therefore a new vision for learning, starting right now

  • more important to know why you need something, a knowledge or skill, and then where to find it – rather than cramming your head full … don’t try to learn everything!
  • built around each individual, their personal choice of where and how to learn, and tracking of performance through data-based customisation … whatever sits you
  • learning together and from each other – peer to peer learning will dominate, teachers more as facilitators, of communities built around shared learning and aspiration.

 

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Among the many discussions, innovations and general shifts in the world of learning – from school children to business executive – there are 9 trends that stand out:

  1. Diverse time and place.
    Students will have more opportunities to learn at different times in different places. eLearning tools facilitate opportunities for remote, self-paced learning. Classrooms will be flipped, which means the theoretical part is learned outside the classroom, whereas the practical part shall be taught face to face, interactively.
  2. Personalized learning.
    Students will learn with study tools that adapt to the capabilities of a student. This means above average students shall be challenged with harder tasks and questions when a certain level is achieved. Students who experience difficulties with a subject will get the opportunity to practice more until they reach the required level. Students will be positively reinforced during their individual learning processes. This can result in to positive learning experiences and will diminish the amount of students losing confidence about their academic abilities. Furthermore, teachers will be able to see clearly which students need help in which areas.
  3. Free choice.
    Though every subject that is taught aims for the same destination, the road leading towards that destination can vary per student. Similarly to the personalized learning experience, students will be able to modify their learning process with tools they feel are necessary for them. Students will learn with different devices, different programs and techniques based on their own preference. Blended learning, flipped classrooms and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) form important terminology within this change.
  4. Project based.
    As careers are adapting to the future freelance economy, students of today will adapt to project based learning and working. This means they have to learn how to apply their skills in shorter terms to a variety of situations. Students should already get acquainted with project based learning in high school. This is when organizational, collaborative, and time management skills can be taught as basics that every student can use in their further academic careers.
  5. Field experience.
    Because technology can facilitate more efficiency in certain domains, curricula will make room for skills that solely require human knowledge and face-to-face interaction. Thus, experience in ‘the field’ will be emphasized within courses. Schools will provide more opportunities for students to obtain real-world skills that are representative to their jobs. This means curricula will create more room for students to fulfill internships, mentoring projects and collaboration projects (e.g.).
  6. Data interpretation.
    Though mathematics is considered one of three literacies, it is without a doubt that the manual part of this literacy will become irrelevant in the near future. Computers will soon take care of every statistical analysis, and describe and analyse data and predict future trends. Therefore, the human interpretation of these data will become a much more important part of the future curricula. Applying the theoretical knowledge to numbers, and using human reasoning to infer logic and trends from these data will become a fundamental new aspect of this literacy.
  7. Exams will change completely.
    As courseware platforms will assess students capabilities at each step, measuring their competencies through Q&A might become irrelevant, or might not suffice. Many argue that exams are now designed in such a way, that students cram their materials, and forget the next day. Educators worry that exams might not validly measure what students should be capable of when they enter their first job. As the factual knowledge of a student can be measured during their learning process, the application of their knowledge is best tested when they work on projects in the field.
  8. Student ownership.
    Students will become more and more involved in forming their curricula. Maintaining a curriculum that is contemporary, up-to-date and useful is only realistic when professionals as well as ‘youngsters’ are involved. Critical input from students on the content and durability of their courses is a must for an all-embracing study program.
  9. Mentoring will become more important.
    In 20 years, students will incorporate so much independence in to their learning process, that mentoring will become fundamental to student success. Teachers will form a central point in the jungle of information that our students will be paving their way through. Though the future of education seems remote, the teacher and educational institution are vital to academic performance.

These are exciting, provocative and potentially far-reaching challenges. For individuals and society, new educational tools and resources hold the promise of empowering individuals to develop a fuller array of competencies, skills and knowledge and of unleashing their creative potential.

Indeed, many of the changes underway call to mind the evocative words of Irish poet William Butler Yeats that, “Education is not about filling a bucket but lighting a fire.”

Technology has become integrated into virtually every aspect of work. And because we spend so much time working, work really is the place where we most directly feel the impact of developing technologies. From collaboration to productivity; from new ways of approaching workspace design to the increasing ability to work from virtually anywhere; and from hiring and recruitment to new skill sets—it is a time of experimentation for companies and organizations as trends in technology converge to change what it means to work.

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