Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Changing World: The 4th Industrial Revolution

Our world is changing quickly. Artifical intelligence, automation, drones, 3D printing, renewable energy systems and other technologies are developing so rapidly that we will see major changes to the things are done in less than 5 years. Many jobs will be replaced from technology and many others will be created. What does this mean for the future of our youth and their education today?

Mark Adreessen, the billionaire who built netscape in the 1990s, connected the world to information at the touch of a button. In a recent interview, he was asked what he would teach if he had to work with students from grade 9 to college level. He simply said "build", "I would be inclined to teach them to build thingsWhen asked why, Mark replied that it is important to know how things are made and to know how to make new things if we are going to innovate and stay competitive with the rest of the world. Whether its new art ,new companies, new products, needs to provide students with hands on projects, to have an objective, to construct something. 

Mark stresses the use of places where you don’t need peoples permission for everything that you want to do. In other words, limit the restrictions placed on creating. Computing science, for example, has advanced so quickly because you can make new things on computers, people can write books, music etc.. without permission. Mark would do anything where you can make something new. He believes it is relatively easy for teachers to work this way. Kids love to use their hands and NOT sit in desks all day. We need to learn about how things were made in the past and to get inside the heads of those who made things, things that are important to our world. (Inteview with Tim Ferris).

Such a notion is complementary on high school redesign whereby students may work in spaces that support their learning interests. Less restrictions on what our students can do and where they can work helps unlock their true potential and embrace certain change. So what are the big changes that are happening right now? 

  • Renewable energy production has already far surpassed fossil fuel use. For example, solar panels are producing 3 times as much energy as oil and gas on a global scale. England and France are already using and building more solar roadways that power street lights, automated vehicles and buildings. Costa Rica, for example has just completed 3 months of running the country entirely on renewable energy. 
  • 3D printing has created localized manufacturing which puts "making" capabilities into the hands of anyone with access to a machine. This allows for less reliance on industry to produce goods. 
  • Drones are increasingly being used to understand the world around us. Their capacity to take pictures of places that are challenging for humans to get to have beneficial implications for insurance, workers safety,etc...
  • AI - artificial intelligence is becoming so advanced that many jobs are going to replaced. Especially jobs that are physical or content driven are being replaced by robots who can compute algorithms to achieve specific tasks in a fraction of the time that it takes humans to complete the job. 
The World Economic Forum predicts that artifical intelligence and drones will replace jobs such as delivery and transportation, customer service agents and bankers (The 4th Industrial Revolution, p. 39, Schwab). See the chart below: 

The top 10 most important job skills for 2020 are listed in Figure 1 below: (The 4th Industrial Revolution: 42, Schwab).

How should educational institutions respond? What should curriculum look like if educators are to prepare students for this world of work? 

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