Education 4.0: May The Fourth Be With You!

Education 4.0: May The Fourth Be With You!

In an era where ‘machines are learning and humans are hooked’, the tables are turning like never before. Like Kylo Ren, the last Jedi said, ‘Let the past die. Kill it if you have to’.


Education 4.0 is the trending buzzword among educationists and learning professionals today. In a way, it completes the phenomenon of digital integration in our daily lives where human beings and machines are aligned to discover new ways of executing and learning. In an era where ‘machines are learning and humans are hooked’, the tables are turning like never before! Like Kylo Ren, the last Jedi said, ‘Let the past die. Kill it if you have to’.


In order to understand the best way to leverage the changing dynamics brought about by the onset of technology, Education 4.0 must be viewed from two perspectives.


 • By understanding how we now need to fundamentally relook at the demand and supply side of learning.


By knowing how we will need to use these disruptive technologies to further the collective learning and growth of organisations.


The fourth Industrial revolution came with the advancement of new technologies that blurred the lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds. The new technologies have evolved at an exponential pace and are led by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Autonomous Vehicles, Bio and Nanotechnology, 3-D printing, Material Science, Quantum Computing and energy storage. Not only does IR 4.0 affect the business, governance and the people, it also affects education, and thereby, led to the coining of the term Education 4.0.


The advent of these technologies is bringing 9 different shifts to the way we see learning.


1. The source is king: The new vision of learning promotes learners to not only learn skills and knowledge but also identify the source to learn these skills and knowledge. And this is the reason behind Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) such as Degreed, Edcast gaining such prominence. They crawl around the web and find the most relevant learning, and thus, become the all-important ‘source’ that learners will go to.


2. Development on demand: Today, the learner is only required to ask. If it is learning that they need- then there is remote learning, self-paced learning, flipped classrooms, MOOCs and more. If it is coaching that they are seeking, then there are apps that help them build their goals and coach them on a daily basis. If one is looking for mentoring, there are platforms that bring industry leaders and mentees together. Technology has made it possible for a teacher in Azamgarh (U.P.) to learn the best practices in classroom engagement from a school in Japan. And now, this teacher in rural/semi-urban India knows that the theoretical aspects of any subject can be learned outside the class. What is most important is to understand the huge role of interactivity and peer-to-peer learning that the teacher really needs to leverage.


3. My Learning: Just like music, movies and fashion, learning is becoming increasingly personal. Learners want to be on their personalised learning paths which are possible where the learning gets tailored to their level of difficulty and aspiration. This ‘dialling up and dialling down’ of learning content is immensely possible by effectively using assessments, evaluations, and then learning road maps that speak to the needs of the individual. Participants will be introduced to harder tasks only after a certain level of mastery is achieved. More practices will be provided if the instructors see the need for it. Positive reinforcements are used to promote a positive learning experience and boost the learner’s confidence and self-efficacy.


4. Involve and learning will happen: With the advent of technology, the one thing that has happened is that learners want to get involved. Either by making ‘TikTok’ videos or by creating their own content or by working on applying their knowledge and skills in completing a couple of short-term projects- they are practising their organisational, collaborative and time management skills which are key to successful careers. The advancement of technology enables effective learning of certain domains, thereby making room for acquiring skills that involve human knowledge and face-to-face interaction.


5. Dealing with the paradoxes: In the top 10 skills identified by the World Economic Forum in 2020, the first four are all soft skills like problem solving, creativity, critical thinking and people management. In fact, the discussion is that these should be called ‘power skills’- these are the ones that actually ‘power’ individuals to perform at their very best. And here lies the paradox. By using technology well; through simulations, game-based learning and virtual reality, one can actually teach these ‘power skills’ in a nuanced manner and to a large number of people. Imagine the opportunity it opens to a country like India, where there is huge technical expertise and with the added advantage of the power skills, our talent can be a formidable force in the world talent market.


6. Using data-driven insights: Technology has made it possible to deal with massive data pools. And, learners are now exposed to data interpretation in which they are required to apply their theoretical knowledge to numbers and use their reasoning skills to make inferences based on logic and trends from given sets of data. The manual part of mathematical literacy will become irrelevant since computers will perform statistical analysis and predict future trends. What will be required then, is an emotionally intelligent, conscientious, and humane individual who will draw the right insights for better learning.


7. The death of the assessments: Conventional platforms and pedagogies to assess learners will become irrelevant or insufficient. Learners’ factual knowledge can be assessed during the learning process, while the application of the knowledge can be tested when they are working on their projects in the field. Using communication mechanisms like Zoom, Teams, etc. learners will work on live projects and interview stakeholders as they learn. Their performance on these ‘on-the-job’ assignments will become the new foundation of assessments.


8. Co-create to success: Technology has thrust us into the ‘Creators Economy’. Learners and teachers are together in designing and updating the curriculum. Their inputs help the curriculum designers maintain curriculum contemporariness and usefulness.


> Learners use social networking websites to create Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), connect, discover new content, and grow professionally. E.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, etc.


> Learners also use blogs and wikis to create participatory learning spaces. E.g. Blogger, WordPress, Kidblog etc.


> Social bookmarking websites curate and share resources with co-learners. E.g. Edshelf, Educlipper, Pinterest, etc.


9. Blurring of Roles: Finally, the biggest change that technology has bought is blurring the roles  of ‘leaners’ and teachers. Learners will become more independent in their own learning, thus, forcing teachers to assume a new role as facilitators who will guide the students through their learning process. Much like the Socratic process of debate and discussion, learning will now happen with the willingness of both parties to contribute to the learning process and not because of the formal ‘roles’. Technology has become a great equaliser that way and has bought in the ‘democratisation’ of learning. The ‘Institute for the Future’, the world’s leading futures education and training organisation, sums it up well, “The next decade will challenge us to reinvent learning for this new kind of distributed, dynamic, and ultimately more creative workforce”. I do not know about you, but certain aspects truly stand out for me from this quote.


That the future of learning using technology for a distributed workforce is going to be extremely challenging.


That this is going to be a ‘creative’ workforce, which is looking at meaning and purpose in the work that they do means that we will need to re-look at the tools, practices and standards of assessments.


That this workforce is dynamic is given, and we will need data-based customisation to build unique learning paths that enrich our roles and lives.


May the force be with us all!

Nishath Usmani is responsible for leadership development of senior leaders at KPMG. She comes with an experience of more than 18 years in leadership development, learning strategy, talent management, facilitation, coaching & learning communications. She has worked previously worked in Capgemini’s Corporate University and Deloitte Consulting. Nishath is presently pursuing Ph.D. in management (HR).


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