We are in an extraordinary time of change. Perhaps we don’t realise our position in relation to this change right now because it’s happening so fast. We might even say that we don’t even feel it. It’s almost like being on an aeroplane; on the inside we don’t experience the rush of the wind that is happening all around us on the outside. It appears that is what’s happening to the human race at the moment in the middle of this digital revolution. That begs the question therefore as to what the best skills to learn for the future might be.
A Revolutionary Movement
If you think about it, it’s quite difficult to know where this change is taking us. There is an “event horizon” that is not too far in the future, where it is quite difficult to predict what the world is going to look like. So what can we do for the children who are in our schools or the students currently in universities? How do we prepare them with a vision for the future with the best skills to for that future?
The ordinary person on the street may possibly liken their understanding of the fundamental changes in technology to that of climate change. A weird comparison? Not necessarily. Each year people experience subtle changes in temperature and recognise that the sum of these small changes make up a larger transformation. It may be hotter in the summer than it was five years ago; the winters may have become harsher over the previous ten. But we tend to push it to the back of our minds. Of course why wouldn’t we? We have other things to worry about: mortgages to pay, chores and repairs to be carried out.
That’s not dissimilar from what’s going on technologically. People are slightly fearful of it. They know they can’t control it. They know it’s going to impact their children and their grandchildren much more than it has impacted them. A really interesting and somewhat mind-blowing infographic published by The Emerging Future estimates the speed and impact of change over the next 40 years. It’s pretty amazing, but the question still remains: “How do we enable our kids with the tools today to deal with a very different and changing world tomorrow?”
Let’s think about right now in the year 2016. The most sought after jobs are with companies that didn’t exist 15 years ago! Using various cutting edge technologies, the kids of the 1980s and 1990s are employed in positions such as Social Media Managers, AngularJS/Python/Ruby Developers, Agile Designers, Dev Ops Engineers.What opportunities will await the kids of the early noughties and the “20-teens”? Positions such as sensation engineers may exist. Coders already develop augmented and virtual realities. How may that change how we interact and communicate with one other, how we travel. There will be jobs we haven’t even thought of! Could you perceive living in a virtual reality apartment, your presence represented only as an avatar occupying a digital space? It’s not as crazy as you might think.
And so the question once more: How do we champion the younger generation to prepare for the changes to come? What are the best skills to learn for the future that is not yet mapped out? The answer – create a generation of people who are flexible, adaptable, unafraid of constant change. The biggest impact of the digital world is the realisation that life changes as a continuum, not in bits and pieces.
Technology cannot be trapped. It is ubiquitous. It is about how well we use it and how much we use it to make our lives more useful. Within education it might almost be more useful to encourage people to do their learning at home and discuss what’s been learned in school. As Plato remarked, teaching and learning will become a dialogue that interprets what is all around us. There is no need to overcomplicate things. Use and recognise technology for what it is. Trust each other and trust the technology.