Educational technology is the key to equipping children for the workplace of the future, which is changing at an accelerated pace and shows no signs of stopping.
Global research has shown that many of the jobs created in the past 25 years were barely existent in the areas of IT development, hardware manufacturing, app creation and IT systems management.
That is why it is vital that students need to be prepared with learning experiences that help them discover adaptable skill sets instead of simply relying on memorised facts and data.
These experiences will ensure that students are ready for the uncertainty of the specifics of future job responsibilities.
What Skills Are Essential for Tomorrow’s Workplace?
Workplaces are being transformed by technology and rapidly evolving marketplace demands. Yet, students entering the workforce do not possess the skills for today’s marketplace, let alone prepare for the changes that will soon occur.
They need classroom experiences that require them to not just memorise facts, as taught through conventional instruction, but rather include new ways to learn how to communicate effectively, think critically, innovate and solve complex problems.
There will be less emphasis on manual dexterity and endurance. Analytical thinking, financial literacy and originality will be increasingly important.
The demand for skills in critical thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving and collaboration is increasing amongst employers, while knowledge acquired through memorisation or other conventional classroom methods will become less sought-after.
Schools can evolve educational systems to place more emphasis on next-generation job skills by incorporating interactive technologies into the classroom.
School leaders and educators, in particular, are uniquely positioned to enact change and enhance lifelong skill sets by updating educational priorities, modifying teaching methodologies and integrating technology appropriately into the existing curriculum.
The ultimate goal should be to move students from mere consumers of classroom content to that of creators and collaborators. Immersive educational technologies are the tools schools can invest in to make such an aspiration happen.
Skill Sets Growing in Prominence
Here are six of the skill sets that are growing in prominence:
The complex systems and problems of the future workplace will require collaborative efforts and, therefore, flexibility will be highly valued. This means that those with the ability to adapt to new or changing requirements, circumstances and expectations will be highly sought-after employees.
Negotiation skills will be required to help resolve differences through compromise and agreement to discover common ground and accomplish goals.
Originality and innovation will be crucial to those looking for a place in tomorrow’s workplace. There will be a great need to address problems in ways that transcend traditional approaches, rules and patterns to imagine and develop unusual or unexpected ideas.
Applying unique ideas to alter or transform processes, products or services and innovate the workplace as it is will be in demand across multiple industries.
Those who master persuasive communication and the ability to change the beliefs, attitudes or behaviours of other individuals, will become the future leaders of businesses.
Understanding and cultivating social influence by embracing organisational politics, promoting both oneself and other people, building trusting relationships and cultivating networks to guide individuals and groups will advance leadership paradigms in the workplace.
- Emotional Intelligence
The employee of the future needs the ability to identify and harness not only his/her personal emotions, but also the emotions of others to accomplish goals while overcoming inevitable setbacks.
Rationally identifying and interpreting challenges and seeking help from others to find alternatives will be even more in demand as collaboration, creativity and leadership skills are developed.
- Engagement and Intellectual Curiosity
The ability to keep learning throughout the course of one’s life will drive the continued development of knowledge and skills needed in the workplace and for personal fulfilment through formal and informal training.
- Complex Problem-Solving
The advent of technology such as artificial intelligence will necessitate the development of complex problem-solving skills in employees. There will be a demand for the following:
- Analytical and critical thinking, in other words, the ability to evaluate options, assumptions and evidence against appropriate criteria,
- Novel solutions, which means the ability to identify ill-defined challenges, assess options and implement solutions in dynamic environments,
- Attention to detail in order to be able to complete tasks thoroughly and accurately, and
- Skills in technology design and programming that will enable employees to apply practical knowledge and abilities to accomplish information technology, mechanical, mathematical or scientific tasks.
The True Value of Educational Technology
Technology offers the power to fundamentally transform how teachers teach and how students learn.
Before that alteration can occur, however, school leaders and educators must thoughtfully integrate hardware and software use into the curriculum to experience the true value of educational technology.
The benefits of integrated educational technology include the following:
- It improves collaboration skills through interacting with classmates on project-based activities and/or shared devices,
- It exercises creativity by arranging music, designing characters and building 3D models,
- It develops emotional intelligence through social and emotional learning (SEL) exercises, including immersive activities that teach empathy, so users can more fully understand people from different cultures and communities,
- It inspires engagement and intellectual curiosity during student-directed activities and exploration, such as virtual field trips,
- It communicates persuasively with various storytelling techniques and media, including interactive narratives and 360-degree videos, and
- It comprehends complex concepts by viewing processes, organisms and environments that students ordinarily wouldn’t be able to see first-hand.
By leveraging educational technology, schools will have the ability to deliver new methodologies such as blended learning, project-based learning and immersive learning to enhance the existing curriculum and build invaluable skills.
In addition, these techniques give students a say in their own classroom experiences, increasing their engagement by adapting lessons to individual learning styles.
It is important to note that the value of educational technology is not merely theoretical. The value of investing in technology and adapting the school environment to integrate technology into the curriculum is demonstrated by the examples below (from a report on technology integration in three school communities in the United States and one in Spain):
- The students’ evaluation skills increased 1,7 times after Colegios El Valle (Spain) adopted new technologies.
- In the Middletown City School District (Ohio), students acquired the digital citizenship skills they need to be successful in the workplace of the future.
- Algebra students in the Richland School District 2 (South Carolina) significantly improved their EOC test scores after the area adopted a blended learning model.
- Educators in the Cajon Valley Union School District (California) consider technology investments to be successful when students graduate with a healthy self-esteem, engage in meaningful relationships with their peers and are hired after graduation.
What to Do Before Buying Educational Technology
There is an urgent call for communities to act. But, school leaders and educators should resist the temptation to immediately buy shiny computerised devices and the latest software without considering the full value of the investment.
They should also establish a clear and goal-driven plan for adoption that links the benefits of technology to established academic priorities.
The five-step plan to understanding the VOI (value of investment) is as follows:
- Budget for each cost. This includes the direct costs (such as the purchase of devices) as well as the indirect costs (such as integration and training costs).
- Calculate the anticipated costs that will be saved as well as the efficiencies that will be gained by identifying opportunities for saving costs and gaining additional efficiencies.
- Measure the qualitative benefits. Identify non-financial benefits, assign a relative importance or value to each, calculate the qualitative benefits in measurable terms and compare the value for each project competing for funding to prioritise the technology investment.
- Consider the risks and benefits by determining the probability of success for the proposed technology project and weighing up the risks and benefits for students, staff and the community at large.
- Assess the results.
By following the five-step plan, school leaders and educators will understand not only the full value of an investment in the digital transformation of classrooms, but also the consequences of neglecting to appropriately integrate technology into the curriculum.
Practical Advice for Adopting Educational Technology
Be sure to consider what learning experiences the schools will provide through technology, taking into account the practical considerations that help make the goals possible, such as:
- Teaching Methodologies
What will be introduced or changed?
- Technology Access
Will it be used only in school or can it also be remotely accessed?
- Physical Space
How much will be used? How much additional space will be needed?
What are the time requirements and current availability?
- Existing Curriculum
How will technology be incorporated to ensure education mandates are covered?
- The Role of Teachers
How will their responsibilities change once the technology is implemented? How will this impact group learning versus individualised lessons?
How Can Schools Close the Educational Gap?
In response to the shifting emphasis on cognitive skills, innovative school leaders and educators are integrating educational technology into the existing curriculum in ways that will vastly improve student outcomes.
Technology enables educators to evolve classroom methods to address students’ unique needs through personal and immersive educational paths.
Educating students with the core skills required in today’s continually changing workplace involves much more than simply buying laptops or smartboards and dropping the gear into classrooms. Technology offers the power to fundamentally transform how teachers teach and how students learn.
Before that alteration can occur, however, school leaders and educators must thoughtfully integrate hardware and software use into the curriculum with clear goals for students to accomplish.
It is clear that in seeking to successfully blend technology into lesson plans, school communities must band together to redesign the traditional roles of teachers and the function of the classroom. The role of teachers will not be diminished by technology.
Instead, technology will be the driving force in freeing teachers from conventional techniques, so their time can be best spent enabling projects in which students work together, facilitating peer-to-peer learning so students can assist each other and engaging with students in ways that better match the individual’s learning modes.
Technology initiatives in education can spark interests that lead students to lifelong pursuits while equipping them with the creative and cognitive tools to thrive in the future workforce.
How School Leaders Can Improve Student Outcomes With Educational Technology
School leaders are uniquely positioned to implement the educational technology that will transform the way in which children develop important skills to better prepare them for future workplace opportunities.
To succeed, however, school leaders must overcome not only limited budgets, but also the challenge of building and sustaining community support for investing in technology and changing the curriculum to include the technology.
Educational technology holds the promise of enabling educators to evolve classroom methods in order to address students’ unique needs through personal and immersive educational paths.
The non-stop introduction of digital devices for the classroom makes it faster and easier than ever to connect students and teachers to information and experiences around the world.
Yet, such promises require a serious plan for buy-in and implementation with not only your staff but also with the parents, the students and the other stakeholders in the community.
School leaders can take the lead in integrating educational technology into the curriculum by focusing on the following three objectives:
- Link the use of educational technology to academic priorities by establishing goals for what students, teachers and staff are expected to accomplish with the technology.
- Explore methodologies that will maximise the value of educational technology and that will empower students in new ways.
- Understand and advocate the value of investment (VOI) in the digital redesign of classrooms.
HP Education Solutions offers students everywhere, all-the-time access to educational technology, which includes the content, curriculums and collaboration they need to enable true learning that will deliver meaningful outcomes for both themselves and their communities.
For more information on HP Education Solutions, please visit our website.