With the rapid changes that are affecting the job market every day, the expectation for school to prepare students for real life is becoming harder and harder to live up to. How are teachers supposed to make children ready for their future careers when the facts they are teaching will no longer be true and the technology they are using will already be old by the time they finish?
It is a daunting task, but technology, even if it risks being obsolete by the time they graduate, can be an invaluable tool to help the students of today become the workers of tomorrow. Let’s explore how.
1. A level playing field
The gap between school and work is not the only one technology can bridge. Before we can even think of starting students down the road to a successful career, there are other obstacles to take care of—namely, that not all students begin the race to the job market from the same starting point. It may be because a disability is affecting their academic success, their social skills, or even their physical capabilities, or it may be because an economically disadvantaged situation is affording them fewer opportunities to expand their worldview and acquire valuable skills, but not all new graduates are equally palatable to employers—that is, unless we create occasions for them that they otherwise would not have. Compensating for learning disabilities, giving students a taste of places and experiences beyond their budget, even giving them the means to start a booming online business that does not require them to be able-bodied or well-off to begin with: those are only a few examples of the ways technology can make the world a fairer place.
2. Creating connections
Our school system is the product of the first industrial revolution: a learning model based on large class groups all learning the same material was ideal to produce great masses of new factory workers. Before this teaching style dominated the modern world, however, the commonly accepted method of training was through apprenticeships: young people would go learn a skill directly from a master through observation and practice. With technology, it is not unfeasible to go back to a new and more updated form of this ancient model: if there is one thing technology does well, it is to create connections between people, so why should it not create connections between schools and companies or institutions willing to provide instruction, and subsequently internships and job openings? Let students supplement their education with online courses from the leaders in their chosen field, give them the chance to create a network of useful contacts, and they will have no shortage of career opportunities.
3. From theory to practice
Speaking of learning through practice, overly focusing on theory is one of the main flaws of textbook-based education, one that EdTech can remedy. One of the greatest complaints of new graduates who are facing the real world for the first time is that school did not prepare them for what was ahead; but what if it could? From learning practical skills in a safe setting with MR and simulators of all descriptions to providing more realistic applications of their theoretical knowledge through educational apps and games designed with a problem-solving approach, EdTech can radically rethink the way we learn and teach and create a generation that is much more prepared to take on the challenges of life.
4. Learning more than facts
An effective education is about more than memorising facts. Now more than ever, we need to be aware that the content we give our students may no longer be valid by the time they have to use it. Teaching them reading, writing and arithmetic is all well and good, but what they need is adaptability, and in today’s world, adaptability comes in the form of soft skills. Thanks to technology, students can work in teams without meeting face to face, have tools that support their creative endeavours, and improve their communication abilities: all skills that will serve them well across any career and help them learn new things on the fly if the need arises, making them better equipped for the ever-changing job market.