Future of Learning Series Wrap-Up: 8 Takes on How Tech Is Impacting Education

Over the past several weeks, we have been writing about how technology is impacting education as part of our ‘Future of Learning’ series. Our contributors explored the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly fast-paced digital world, ventured to put a stake in the ground about what online ed might look like in 10 years, asked teenagers what they want their education to be like, and interviewed an Argentine minister of education about education reforms in Buenos Aires.

In case you missed it, below are interesting excerpts from the articles we published.

Automation Is Eating Jobs But These Skills Will Always Be Valued in the Workplace

This continuous learning approach, in contrast to degree-oriented education, represents an important shift that is desperately needed in education. It also reflects the demands of the labor market—where lifelong learning and skill development are what keep an individual competitive, agile, and valued.

Singularity University CEO Rob Nail explains, “The current setup does not match the way the world has and will continue to evolve. You get your certificate or degree and then supposedly you’re done. In the world that we’ve living in today, that doesn’t work.”

Transitioning the focus of education from degree-oriented to continuous learning holds obvious benefits for students. This shift in focus, however, will also help academic institutions sustain their value as education, at large, becomes increasingly democratized and decentralized.”

3 Ways Exponential Technologies Are Impacting the Future of Learning

In her book, Now You See It, Cathy N. Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, says 65 percent of today’s grade school kids will end up doing work that has yet to be invented.  Davidson, along with many other scholars, argues that the contemporary American classroom is still functioning much like the classroom of the industrial era — a system created as a training ground for future factory workers to teach tasks, obedience, hierarchy and schedules.

For example, teachers and professors often ask students to write term papers.  Davidson herself was disappointed when her students at Duke University turned in unpublishable papers, when she knew that the same students wrote excellent blogs online. Instead of questioning her students, Davidson questioned the necessity of the term paper. “What if bad writing is a product of the form of writing required in school — the term paper — and not necessarily intrinsic to a student’s natural writing style or thought process? What if ‘research paper’ is a category that invites, even requires, linguistic and syntactic gobbledygook?”

How Would Today’s Smartest Teens Overhaul Education? We Asked Them

Finally, we landed on our biggest question: What is the purpose of all this learning, anyway? Their answer: education should ‘make people confident in their ability to learn anything.’

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls this a ‘growth mindset.’ In her words, this is ‘the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems.’ A student with a growth mindset understands her intelligence is only partially determined by genetics—there are always actions she can take to build new proficiencies that contribute to a rich intellectual life.

In a world of exponential change, standing still is not an option. People once held one job per lifetime, but today many researchers expect millennials to hold as many as twenty jobs throughout a single career. We must all be prepared to constantly learn new skills and ideas. Building the confidence to do so is the number one goal in the future of education.”

Online Education in 2025 — Here’s What to Expect

Online learners will be able to more easily connect with actual coaches or tutors in real time. Companies like InstaEdu and Udacity* are already betting their future on such a connection. For a peek into this future, consider the work of a language school in Brazil that is connecting Brazilian youngsters who want to learn to speak English with retired American seniors. A version of the now defunct Google Helpouts, which brought experts and students together online, will eventually be successful.

Other companies are betting their futures on building educational experiences away from real coaches or tutors and towards automated solutions. This is a more scalable approach, but this certainly isn’t the option people will choose if they can afford to hire real life tutors.”

Argentina’s Plan to Grow a Culture of Innovation From the Classroom Up

“Today, change seems to be the only constant. Fearing change is like being strapped to a speeding train and digging your heels into the ground to try to stop it. The pace of technology isn’t slowing down, and those who refuse to keep up will, unfortunately, be left behind.

And that is precisely what Minister Bullrich wants to avoid.

Instead, he plans to help ease people’s fear by showing them what they can do by harnessing change. He says, ‘We need to use the strength of innovation within the classroom, within the school, to make kids—especially kids—lose that fear of change—because when they own the change, they’re part of the change.'”

The Virtual Reality Renaissance: How Learning in VR Will Inspire Action Like Never Before

“The combination of Project Based Learning and VR could help solve one of the biggest problems in schools today: the fact that students aren’t being adequately prepared for the jobs that exist in the modern, information economy. In fact, students are being prepared for a world that ‘doesn’t exist anymore.’ By creating a culture of education that allows students to work together to foster innovation, we will actively be creating citizens who are prepared for the challenges of the modern world. And they’ll be learning what is arguably the most important skill in the modern world: the ability to be natural collaborators.”

Higher Ed Has Failed Students — Here’s How We Plan to Fix It

Traditionally, students read assigned materials and then attend class to hear their professor give a lecture. They take notes, go home, do an assignment, and repeat. This model is backward — that is, students should not be wasting time in the classroom being lectured at by the professor.

At Minerva, minimal information transmission takes place in class. In our “radical flipped classroom,” we move both the homework, readings, and lectures to before class and reserve class time for active learning. Students use information acquired through lectures and homework in critical thinking, creative thinking, effective communication, and effective interaction. They take part in group problem solving, debate, role-playing exercises and other activities that engage them.”

How Tech Can Make Entrepreneurialism Safe for the Poor  

“What is the future of learning? That will depend on where you live and how old you are. In high-income countries for school-aged youth, it might come in the form of adaptive, digital content or interactive virtual environments. But in low-income countries and especially for people who are already beyond the usual school age, the future of learning will be customized differently.

People living in poverty have acute needs that should be addressed first before many of the topics in traditional curricula. And while it has become popular to confer financial literacy and to teach business skills, it is critically important to enable vulnerable populations to learn entrepreneurial skills in a way that does not expose them to greater risk.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Sveta McShane
Sveta McShane
Sveta writes about the intersection of biology and technology (and occasionally other things). She also enjoys long walks on the beach, being underwater and climbing rocks. You can follow her @svm118.
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