The third industrial revolution took place in the early 1970s, with a focus on embracing computers and automation. With it, came a number of changes to the way in which the world operated, transforming and, in some cases, eliminating the need for a variety of different jobs and roles. As most of us know already, we are currently in the midst of what’s being called the fourth industrial revolution, with a focus on cyber-physical systems.
The question is – how will this affect varsity learning and the working world as we know it today?
What Does the 4th Industrial Revolution Have in Store?
With the emergence of the world wide web and the swift expansion and advancement of related technology thereof, everything is changing.
Everything is becoming digitalised before our very eyes. This means easy access to information and knowledge, as well as an opportunity to build a new virtual world from which we can guide the operations and development of the physical world. Think faster, bigger, MORE.
How Do We Need to Tailor Our Approach to Learning?
With this in mind, there’s a strong call to schools, universities and educators to begin moulding a new approach to learning, with the goal of properly equipping students with the skills necessary to cope within the ever-changing, quickly-evolving working world. The reality is that despite our world looking completely different than what it did 200 years ago, for the most part, we are still teaching in the same, out-dated fashion.
In a recent panel discussion at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), had plenty to say regarding the topic: “What values, behaviours and skills must be taught to the new generation so they become responsible citizens in life and work?”
Students now have access to a never-ending stream of information at their fingertips, and they can find answers to questions and mathematical problems literally at the touch of a button.
Why, then, is there still such a strict focus on rote learning and memorisation?
“We aren’t solving the right issue,” said Phakeng. Instead, there should be a change in direction, with the focus of educators – from primary to tertiary level – on adequately preparing every student for collaboration and innovative problem solving within the work environment.
Students shouldn’t simply be expected to memorise their coursework and reproduce it when being examined or assessed. Instead, it should be a matter of putting their newfound knowledge into practice, actively being encouraged to think creatively and come up with the right approaches to solving a specific problem that relates to the techniques and information which they have acquired.
“Understanding the inequity of knowledge is going to be key,” added Phakeng. It’s time we start teaching students to navigate and scrutinise. It’s the inability to do this that’s “bringing the world to its knees,” she concluded.
As a parent, how would you like to see your child’s university stepping up to solve this issue and bolster student success? Tell us on our Facebook page or in the comments section below!