Preparing students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Photo by Matese Fields on Unsplash

There is an urgent need to update education systems to equip children with the skills to navigate the future of work and the future of societies. The Education 4.0 framework provides a vision for how school systems can be updated to deliver on children’s future needs. This transformation calls for shifts in learning content to include both the technical and human-centric skills needed to build growing and inclusive economies and societies and shifts in learning experiences that more closely mirror the future of work.

World Economic Forum

Earlier this year the World Economic Forum published a new report titled Schools of the Future: Defining New Models of Education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution that takes a look at how education needs to change if we are to succeed in preparing our young people for the future. The report identifies eight “critical characteristics in learning content and experiences” and highlights 16 schools, systems and initiatives around the world that are leading the way.

The eight Critical Characteristics identified in the report reflect themes that have been identified in similar reports in recent years, and reinforce the importance of these things for education systems and educators to be focused on. The WEF Characteristics that form the basis of their Education 4.0 framework are:

  • Global Citizenship skills
  • Innovation and creativity skills
  • Technology Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Personalised and self-paced learning
  • Accessible and inclusive learning
  • Problem-based and collaborative learning
  • Lifelong and student-driven learning

The 16 case-studies provide insights into how these characteristics ‘look’ in a range of contexts, highlighting that there’s no ‘formula’ here, rather, a consequence of thoughtful planning emerging from a set of shared beliefs and values. You can read a summary of the 16 cases here and a synopsys of 5 lessons from innovative schools online. As the WEF report identifies, achieving the changes signalled in their Education 4.0 framework will require:

  1. Shifting Learning Content – moving from ‘delivering’ content, to involving learners in discovering, creating and sharing content as they become both productive contributors of future economies and responsible and active citizens in future societies, and…
  2. Shifting Learning Experiences – creating learning eco-systems that are more personalised, self-paced, accessible and inclusive, problem based and collaborative.

As part of a follow-up to the original report I read this morning a resource published by the WEF titled Coronavirus facts and myths, future schools, tipping points to save us that contains a number of links to information that could be used as a catalyst for designing school-based inquiries into some of the key issues we face in the world today – and that our students will likely be confronted with into their future, including…

Each of the linked pages contains data and information (and more links!) that could usefully serve to inform a student-led inquiry in some of these areas, and using this experience as a means of focusing on the critical characteristics identified above.

Let’s make 2020 a year where we create inspiring, future-focused programmes of learning in our classrooms!

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