During my 30 years in education, marketing has latched onto certain popular catch phrases, running campaigns with messages such as “we teach our students to think differently”, or “we prepare lifelong learners” and even “we use technology to excite learning”. As fantastic as those campaigns were, I was always left feeling unconvinced, because despite the feel-good messages, two things remained unchanged – the syllabus and the way we were teaching.
It was stranger still that throughout that time, no one ever asked me how these incredible promises would be achieved. Exactly what is it that we do differently? I do not want to imply that these institutions did not want to achieve these outcomes; I think that more often than not, they were caught up in the momentum of the giant educational machine which just keeps steamrolling into the future, unable to adapt to the changing times.
This brings me to the 4th Industrial Revolution. In 2015, Klaus Schwab coined the phrase “4th Industrial Revolution”, which is described by Bernard Marr as “the exponential changes to the way we live, work and relate to one another due to the adoption of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems.” Marr goes on to stress that “as the 4th Industrial Revolution reshapes the future of work, businesses must prepare their people for the new world that lies ahead. This often means an increased focus on continual learning, building more on-ramps to new types of jobs, and a commitment to diversity.”
All of this means that, in order to successfully embrace the disruption that lies ahead, our education system needs to innovate. We need to actually change the way we teach and start incorporating skills into our models that prepare the next generation beyond a degree parchment. What we teach and how our students learn must be as dynamic as the technology driving our world.
Recently, the education marketing machine has latched onto The 4th Industrial Revolution and is driving a powerful campaign, but again I’m left feeling unconvinced. I fear that if you scratch the surface, you will quickly discover that there is less going on than we realise – what is being done is exactly what has always been done. Sure, they may have automated their systems and introduced smart screens and tablets into the classroom, but simply using technology to make what you’ve always done more efficient is not innovation. It is certainly not going to produce “a new breed of graduates” who can think differently and adapt to a shifting world.
Today’s world really does need – or rather demand – an education that offers more than the basic requirements. When choosing what and where to study, start interrogating the “how”. It sounds cliché, but one’s education must excite curiosity now more than ever if we are to unleash a generation who can address the challenges, adapt to the changes and continue to improve our world.
Our approach at NewBridge College has been to purposefully integrate the new technologies available to bring relevance to the traditional syllabus. Through partnerships with some of the world’s leading online learning platforms, our students have instant access to powerhouses such as MIT, Harvard and Berkeley, making the latest skills-boosting global content available to them. This, coupled with NewBridge College’s flexible model enables innovative teaching in small groups, bringing a new purpose to our students’ journey.
Let’s stop talking about the 4th Industrial Revolution as a pay-off line and start understanding it – let’s start preparing our youth for it.
Get in touch with us on 031 100 8104 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our unique approach to education.