How edtech can equip learners with the right skills for the 4th industrial revolution

In recent times there has been much talk of a ‘4th industrial revolution’, as the lines between physical and digital experiences blur more and more. What exactly is the 4th industrial revolution and what skills can edtech help learners develop?

What is the 4th industrial revolution?

It is the rapid advancement of new technologies that is building on the developments of the third industrial revolution (the advent of electronics and automated production). According to Klaus Schwab, the Founder and executive chairman of the WEF, the fourth industrial revolution ‘is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres’.

How is it changing the world of work?

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5 elements of a gamified approach to use in education

‘Gamification’ – the process of using elements of interactive game design in other applications – has become popular in education. This is for good reason. There are traits in the gamer personality that can be profitably developed in learners (traits such as perseverance and focus). Here are 5 elements of a gamified approach and how to use them in education:

1. The gamer personality

Video gamers show great drive to improve their skills and ‘master’ games. Mastering learning materials becomes attractive when elements that drive gamers to persevere are used in educational materials.

One element of a gamified approach that helps to recreate this positive element of the gamer personality is ‘unlockable’ content. Learners only gain access to materials in educational apps once they have fulfilled certain requirements and reached a certain level. This fosters the will to continue and succeed.

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Review of ‘Form and Function of questions across computer and face to face based lessons: A sociocultural analysis’

In her article ‘Form and Function of questions across computer and face to face based lessons: A sociocultural analysis’ Joanne Hardman discusses the results of a study conducted at four disadvantaged primary schools in the Western Cape, South Africa. The study examined the use of technology to support the teaching of mathematics and, in particular, the questions used in face-to-face as compared to computer-based lessons. As a theoretical structure, the paper uses the Vygotskian concept of a ‘general genetic law’, which states that higher cognitive functions, such as reasoning and problem-solving, are stimulated through dialogical interactions between, in this case, teacher and student, where language is a “primary tool for mediating students’ access to higher order thinking” (Hardman, 2014:26).  Hardman explains that Vygotsky states that in order for the student to acquire knowledge they must be lead from a “place of not knowing to a place of knowing” (Hardman, 2014:26) by someone more competent than they are. This is a sociocultural process where the difference between what the student knows and needs to know defined by Vygotsky as the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). This approach suggests that a student will learn more through the assistance of and interaction with another person than through working in isolation. Naturally the asking of questions becomes central to this pedagogical process.

Hardman then introduces the Initiation-Response-Evaulation/Feedback (IRE) sequence, which describes a questioning structure. This structure tends to use a directive scaffold approach – where the teacher already knows the answer to the questions being asked and where the questions serve the purpose of the transmission of knowledge – as opposed to a supportive scaffold approach – which allows for a responsive engagement from the teacher and the active construction on knowledge on the part of the student. Directive scaffold questioning can generally be seen as restricting learning while supportive scaffold questioning can be seen to open and work  with the student’s ZPD. However, Hardman argues that both types of questioning can be viewed in a Vygotskian framework, dependent on context. She extends this framework, discussing how teachers can pose questions intended to “provoke cognitive conflict” (Hardman, 2014:26), where a disjuncture between what the student knows and needs to know is caused, thus further opening the student’s ZPD. In this situation the questions asked by the student become useful, as both a cognitive tool for the student and an indication for the teacher on how to direct an intervention. As Hardman writes, “questions are very useful pedagogical tools” (2014:27). 

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