For many Gen Z and Generation Alpha kids, tech has already become an extension of their identity and how they perceive the world. In fact, in 2018 Dr Michio Kaku from the City College of New York alerted us that, for self-preservation, humanity might elect to merge with robots in the next century. Taking that into consideration, according to the International Society for Technology in Education we are preparing children for jobs which do not exist today and it is clear that a lot needs to change when it comes to how we approach education.
School as a place of daily gathering
Considering the benefits of online learning: i.e. quality control over the content and how it is delivered; knowledge retention; collaboration and individual learning – daily school attendance at bricks and mortar environments is fast becoming distant history. Without constraints such as teacher presence and physical classrooms, learners will be able to access information on any subject, anywhere, at any time.
Furthermore, an 8-hour school day could easily be compressed into 3-4 hours. The extra time and access to online tutorials means that your child could teach him/herself to become a concert pianist in the bedroom. If the daily commute is made redundant, parents would undoubtedly have more time at home with their children.
UNESCO estimates that 1.38 billion learners have been forced into home-school situations since COVID-19 reared its ugly head. So, another realisation is the massive reduction in vehicle emissions – an unexpected bonus for our straining planet.
Not just how we teach, but also what we teach
In tech schooling situations we have, historically, focused on asynchronous online learning. These materials will have to be augmented by synchronous ‘face to face’ video lectures and other innovative methodologies and techniques. And we’ll have to think differently, even about aspects such as physical training. As an unintended consequence, athletes will have to learn parallel skills such as videography to record their workouts, edit and submit them in the right format, as their homework.
With AI striding forth, The World Economic Forum stresses that online learning materials should cover alternative skills sets as essential requirements for life in the 4th IR. These include concepts such as Resilience, Adaptability, Emotional Intelligence, Continuous Learning, Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Critical Thinking.
If the parent is to become the de facto teacher, parents are going to have to be taught how to use new learning modalities and how to provide emotional, social and tech support to their kids. In other words, the teacher will have to be taught – and this while many parents are often less tech proficient than their children.
The value of devices
To prevent the rapid, further widening of the gap between ‘haves and have nots’, ways will have to be found for developing countries to access devices that can support new technologies – and, of course, free data.
Prof. Jonathan Jansen, previously Rector and Vice-Chancellor of UFS recommends an interdisciplinary approach when delivering content. It provides context to learning and subsequently greater adoption.
In a recent article he used COVID-19 as an example:
Applied mathematics – to understand virus growth and exponential graphs
Virology – how viruses grow and mutate
Medicine – treatment and vaccines
Geography – travel and spread of a disease
History – parallels such as the 1918 flu
Well, one thing is abundantly clear – we have to leapfrog the current school system in a hurry.
Soon we’ll all be too cool for school!