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?
By way of some background, I am currently the digital publishing manager at the African branch of Cambridge University Press (CUP), the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining CUP, I worked as a consultant conceptualising and implementing innovative digital solutions for academic and local government initiatives in South Africa. During this period I launched The Ulwazi Programme with colleagues from the eThekwini Municipality. This collaborative digital library project collated user-generated, local-language, indigenous knowledge content and published it openly under a Creative Commons license. Based on this experience, as well as my desire to explore how a traditional publishing business could engage with with the open movement and the plethora of freely-available content online, I applied to attend the Institute of Open Leadership (IOL) workshops. The week-long sessions were intense; a bootcamp in open licensing and open education. More importantly, the workshop brought together some of the top minds currently working on open ideas. In formal and informal discussions, these mentors shared their thinking with me on open business models, providing examples of successful and sustainable open initiatives.
The global buzz unleashed by the release of the Pokémon Go game for smartphones in 2016 exemplifies how augmented reality technology is growing. Educational institutions and app developers are already finding ways to incorporate the exciting, perception-bending capabilities of augmented reality design into lesson and textbook design.
Read more about how augmented reality is revolutionizing EdTech:
First: What is augmented reality?
Today’s learner needs a rounded skillset appropriate for a job market where digital savvy and the ability to work within multiple disciplines are both crucial. In a world that is hyper-connected through a diverse range of communication technologies, it’s important for learners to acquire adaptable ways of working with others. Educational technology can address these needs, helping learners acquire learning, literacy and life skills.
What are 21st Century Skills? The Three ‘Ls’
The Partnership for 21st Century Learning divides 21st Century skills into three categories: Life, learning and literacy skills.
Learning skills such as critical and creative thinking as well as the arts of collaboration and communication are more important than ever. Global trade and industry and the global dissemination of information means that learners are emerging into multilingual and multidisciplinary work environments. As Thoughtful Learning says:
‘To hold information-age jobs … students also need to think deeply about issues, solve problems creatively, work in teams, communicate clearly in many media, learn ever-changing technologies, and deal with a flood of information.’
Cheaper mobile devices coupled with the boom in educational app development means that many learners in developing countries can now access quality educational media outside of the classroom. An increase in mobile access (especially in Nigerian and South African markets) has enabled educational technology businesses and non-profits to broaden education, taking learning to students’ daily commutes and homes.