What to look out for: disruption in the education space

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Emerging online and mobile technologies have disrupted the education landscape by providing students with deeper and more engaging, student-centred learning experiences.

Online technologies have not only made educational content ubiquitous and accessible, but allows us to build tools which connect people digitally, build global online communities, and shape our social behaviours.

Learning is now not only on-demand but has shifted towards peer-to-peer learning to create technology-facilitated communities of practice. This is only enhanced over time as:

  • AI systems begin to support more personalised learning,
  • AR/VR technologies bring new levels of interactivity to classrooms and online, and
  • Social platforms drive knowledge sharing as a counterpart to face-to-face teaching.

As educators, it is important to take a step back and consider how the long march of technology continues to disrupt the way we learn, work and live.


1. Expanding horizons for institutions and students

Online courses have opened new discussions as to what quality educational experiences can look like.

For the higher education sector, online learning has spread beyond the walls of traditional educational institutions. Online courses have showcased an institution’s teaching quality and opened new discussions as to what quality educational experiences can look like.

For the learner, these rich digital learning experiences have not only broken down the barriers to accessing quality education (as a result of distance, or not being able to attend class at a physical location) but also produce portfolios of work with recognised micro-credentials to increase a learner’s employability.

Reports from both the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and EY have revealed that between 60-70% of students at Australian universities are being educated in jobs that will not exist by the time they graduate. In addition, with the moral panic surrounding AI, automation, and related technologies taking over large areas of the workforce – it is social (soft) skills, divergent thinking, innovation, and creativity that are increasingly in demand. This is all occurring alongside digital technologies such as social media platforms and digital entertainment becoming an integral part of our collective consciousness.

The quicker these institutions can recognise and adapt to the changing digital landscape, the more agile they will become in the face of digital disruption.


2. MOOC-based learning for a future workforce

Employers are recognising that a good workforce requires diversity. This includes a diversity of learning experiences, ranging across:

  • higher education micro-credentials
  • demonstrable evidence of applied, creative, and social skills
  • industry qualifications
  • practical work experience.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like those on OpenLearning are big education disruptors, as MOOCs offer affordable and flexible ways to learn practical skills and advance careers by way of micro-credentials (certification in specific topic areas).

With so many university graduates entering the workforce each year, businesses are finding it difficult to objectively assess a candidate’s actual skill level based purely on a degree. On the other hand, MOOC graduates are attractive because they offer a portfolio of work which enables employers to hire candidates with more targeted demonstrable skill sets.


3. A values-driven, practical education—online

There is a greater need, especially for technology education (learning about technology), to move from being taught purely as ‘specialisations’, towards being taught as fundamental digital literacy across many other disciplines. As part of this, the education system will also need to expand its offering outside of just subject knowledge to include a broader range of characteristics such as emotional intelligence and ethical understanding.

Business woman making business presentation in office.
Learning how to learn, and how to learn from others will be key – supported by formative learning experiences interacting within a community of practice.

As more fields in the industry become automated or reliant on technology, a foundational understanding of technology will benefit the majority of positions. Learning how to learn, and how to learn from others will be key – supported by formative learning experiences interacting within a community of practice.

Universities will also need to expand their services to integrate industry-informed practical work skills in degrees to upskill the workforce of the 21st Century. Preparing students with practical skills should not just be a part of an institution’s learning strategy but also form part of a business performance strategy, with a focus on lifelong learning.

Of course, these are just three aspects of the disruption happening in the education space. What are you looking out for? Let us know in the comments section below!

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