Rewiring education in the Networked Society
ICT is transforming the way we learn and the way we do business. Competition that was once local is now global. And if you want to stay competitive, the need to know how to leverage technology effectively in the workplace is becoming essential, no matter what industry you work in.
Businesses and the public sector are seeking new ways of increasing efficiency, new ways to enhance their value proposition and new ways to extend their reach with the help of ICT. Broadband, mobility and the cloud are the core infrastructures driving this change.
But for businesses to be most effective in this ICT revolution, changes must first take place in our schools. As I wrote in an earlier post, six areas are transformed when ICT is introduced to educational institutions. One of these areas is skills and knowledge. What will the next generation of students need to know, and what type of skills and knowledge will be most important in the future?
Jobs like Search Engine Optimization Specialist, Online Advertising Manager and User Experience Manager did not exist 10 years ago. And moving forward another 10 years, there will be very few jobs that won’t require ICT literacy. Farmers, miners, truckers, cleaners, drivers – and people working in a substantial number of new roles that haven’t yet been created – will all be integrating ICT into their daily working lives in one way or another.
Basic skills like reading, writing and math, which are some of the most important skills needed today, will remain important tomorrow – but ICT capabilities will become predominant, and students should begin to learn these skills at an early age. Specifically:
- Students will need to have in-depth internet skills. They will need to know how to market themselves and their ideas online and how to maximize the tools that are available to them, as well as understand how services on the internet are interrelated.
- Everyone should be able to do at least basic coding and programming.
- Schools need to teach students how to deal with the unlimited amount of information that is available on the internet. Students must learn how to sift through and find relevant, trustworthy information, and to analyze and understand it in different contexts. Critical and analytical thinking will be important.
- Because the world is becoming highly audiovisual, we need to teach students how to read, produce and understand new media. Semiotics should be introduced as a subject starting in the first grade.
- Because almost all of us will be creators and entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship and business understanding will be crucial knowledge.
- Schools will need to utilize the latest communication and collaboration tools, and teach students how to use these tools to overcome the barriers imposed by geographical distance and to form collaborations beyond their own classrooms.
To do all this, we need more than just a new kind of teacher – we need a new way of teaching. There will be a shift in the way students learn. Instead of concentrating on memorizing knowledge, like I did at school, there will be a stronger focus on learning how to apply knowledge to specific problems. We need a new mindset, and we need international initiatives that support and prepare future generations so they are prepared for the global competition that awaits them in the workforce.