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#BizTrends2019: The future of learning in relation to disruptive innovations
After the age of 7, the brain learns, grows and develops through repetition and practice. If you want to learn how to drive a car, you go through a repetition of practising driving until you are deemed fit by the traffic authorities through a test of practical demonstration. Now let’s park this idea in idle for a bit.
Industries that will be disrupted
Coming third just under insurance and Weddings, Inc.com placed education in the top 5 industries that are ready to be disrupted. Entrepreneur.com placed education and learning fourth on their list. This means that along with the rest of the four industries mentioned in the top 5, education is severely fragmented, uneven and just downright outdated. This is scary, to say the least.
Mention innovation in transport, Uber and self-driving vehicles jump up out of your mind. Well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, education has remained untransformed and unchanged with no real groundbreaking innovation like the one I’ve just mentioned above.
In a scene from the first instalment of the Matrix, we see Neo learning how to fly a helicopter through some kind of an audiovisual cable being jammed into the back of his head. Flight Instructions files are then uploaded into his brain and voila, Neo can fly the helicopter like a pro. This may be a tad bit taking it too far, however one cannot and shouldn’t dismiss the idea completely. The merging of humans and machines is happening now. There is a promise of a breakthrough of integration between biology and technology, notably engineered blood and chip implants.
Learning has evolved
Far more emphasis and research have been given to improving teaching while in hindsight not much of this effort can be easily demonstrated on how people’s learning has evolved in light of the exponential growth of new data and information brought about by the fast-paced changes in technology. Classroom education is still being delivered the same way it was 100 years ago aside from whiteboards and smart-boards replacing chalkboards in too few classrooms globally and changes in curriculum or syllabus.
Classroom education is not keeping up with the skills and knowledge demands of this fast-paced constantly changing environment of disruptive innovations, nor is it taking significant consideration on how today’s human brain learns. If we don’t change our approach in education we will cease to be relevant or to significantly create and contribute value.
The evolution of education
Education has to now evolve into a framework that is underpinned by methods that embrace an approach of unlearning and learning with learning material being centralized and constantly automatically updated through elaborate analytical algorithms interconnected online within and around the Internet of Things (IoT) eco-system which will ultimately lead to the Internet of Everything (IoE).
Alphabet “Google” has done an incredible job at organising the world’s information however if they fail to evolve into this, they will fall flat if and as a new tech-startup in education and learning embarks on this mission and actually manages to pull this off.
An interactive learning approach
I learnt how to create a soda can stove in 10 minutes on Youtube. In only a week and a half, each of our students with no background in technology in our STEM skills training class learnt “how” to and created their own basic websites all the while learning basic PHP programming, HTML and CSS. This is a real-world simulated interactive learning approach.
In his argument, Professor James Paul Gee of Wisconsin University in his book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, he stated that games can be the ultimate learning tool.
“Video games operate with – that is, they build into their designs and encourage – good principles of learning, principles that are better than those in many of our skill-and-drill, back-to-basics, test-them-until-they-drop schools”.
Gee goes on to say, “The fact is when kids play video games they can experience a much more powerful form of learning than when they are in the classroom. Learning isn’t about memorising isolated facts. It’s about connecting and manipulating them.”
Picking up from Dr. Lipton’s findings on how the human brain learns, grows and develops and bringing that Matrix analogy back from the not so distant future to the practical present now with all the technology and know-how of today readily available we can now start to imagine just how education and the institutions thereof need to start innovating and evolving for today’s society. A society that has and deals with far more information than it’s ever had to in the history of the world. A society bombarded with figuring it out as they go along in a sea of abundance and options that sometimes almost lead to analysis paralysis and indecision.
In summary, people excel more in subjects and fields they have learned themselves than those they’ve been taught. To survive, institutions of education will have to create the types of environment that inspire people to learn the lessons by themselves. Delivery of education will have to be informed and driven by continuous research findings of how the brain keeps changing and evolving alongside technological advancements.