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5 new realities in education

3 min read

Career-Technical Education

The vast majority of us now work in environments where the ability to learn is more critical than what we know and where the most valuable currency is influence, not power. — Liz Wiseman, Rookie Smarts

The education landscape has shifted dramatically during the last 10 years. Tablets have replaced textbooks. Students use smartphones during class — for learning. Educators connect online to share best practices.

What does the next decade hold for education? What will become the future of schools? Educator and author Will Richardson took on the topic during his ISTE 2015 session, Tech in 10: Effective Teaching for the Next Decade.

“‘Knowledge’ isn’t the word any longer. ‘Skills’ is no longer the term. ‘Learning’ is the word,” Richardson said, noting that the jobs of tomorrow will require serial mastery. “If our kids don’t have the ability to learn, it really doesn’t matter how much knowledge we give them.”

“This is a very different world that our kids are stepping into,” he said. And educators may need to modernize their classrooms to prepare students for what they are about to meet with in the workplace.

Here’s a snapshot of five new realities in education that Richardson highlighted during his session:

  1. Access amplifies agency. Ninety-two percent of teens go online on a daily basis, and 75% of kids in the U.S. have access to a smartphone. When students have this kind of access, it amplifies their ability to learn, and they have more agency — more choice — in learning.
  2. Learners are designers of their own education. If students — or adults — want to learn something, they don’t often take a course. Instead, they go online and search “how do I…”
  3. Access, creation and sharing of information is uncontrollable. Kids are walking into uncontrolled online environments when they leave school. A better solution than controlling it would be to teach kids how to manage the uncontrolled environment.
  4. Courses are active compositions. Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Learners may compose as they go. It’s really about: What do I want to learn and how are you going to help me learn it?
  5. PD is the responsibility of the professional. If you don’t know how to use Twitter, and you want to learn how, go learn Twitter. Don’t wait for a Twitter workshop. Students are not waiting for workshops, and educators need to be able to learn — and model learning — in this proactive way.

“This isn’t just about learning,” Richardson said. “It’s about the future of work and wealth.” If kids are only able to do routine jobs that are well defined and go by explicit instruction they are not going to be prepared for the workforce because those kinds of jobs are going away.

The jobs of tomorrow will require flexibility, creativity and problem-solving, Richardson noted, leaving us to consider this question: “Are we giving kids opportunities in classrooms to learn continually, to adapt, to be persistent, to develop dispositions around which they can continue to learn?”

Path to Workforce is SmartBrief Education’s vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers, non-traditional students and those who forgo a traditional four-year college experience. Stay tuned for ongoing #Path2W coverage, including model programs, expert insights and reader feedback.

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