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October’s Industry round-up

Throughout October, industry news centered around the role online learning will play in addressing emerging skills gaps in the post-COVID-19 job market. News also continued to cover how universities are bouncing back and incorporating digital. Find out more below.

New research: The Future of Jobs Report
World Economic Forum, 20 October
The latest Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) reveals that, by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge. The top skills rising in prominence in the next few years, according to the report, are: critical thinking, problem solving, self-management, active learning, resilience and flexibility. One of the other key findings is that online learning is on the rise, with a four-fold increase in the numbers of individuals seeking out opportunities for learning online through their own initiative, a five-fold increase in employer provision of online learning opportunities to their workers, and a nine-fold enrolment increase for learners accessing online learning through government programmes.

Editorial reporting: Australia hopeful that safety record and flex on visas will bear fruit
The PIE, 15 October
Australia’s international education sector has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, but the hard lessons learned has put the country in a position to be stronger than ever, according to industry representatives. Chair of the International Education Association of Australia, Phil Honeywood, said he believes the country will see a “good dividend” due to the innovation and agility institutions have shown, competitive policies around post-study work arrangements and the management of the virus. Currently, Australia’s international borders remain closed, and while this cautious approach is causing frustration to providers who believe Australia will miss out to countries such as Canada and the UK, Honeywood said the strong management of the pandemic is something that could be key to giving Australia the edge further down the track.

Opinion: COVID-19 and what it means for the future of edtech
Education Technology, 22 October
This opinion piece by Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director of Studio Graphene (a company that specialises in the development of blank canvas tech products), argues that the surge in uptake of digital solutions will mark a turning point for edtech, propelling educational technology from a fringe tool to the foundation of education. Gandhi also suggests that the higher education sector ought to leverage digital tools that can offer sophisticated examination options, and facilitate teaching in specialised areas – whether this is coding or biochemistry. He concludes that some solutions used today will not be fit for purpose in a few years, or even months, down the line as they offer only a quick, temporary fix. With this in mind, he says, providers should continuously make improvements and find tools that cater to the needs of both students and educators.

New research: Two-thirds of teachers believe lockdown has widened attainment gap for disadvantaged students
Education Technology, 23 October
Research from Renaissance (an educational software company), has revealed that 63% of UK headteachers and school leaders believe lockdown has worsened the attainment gap for disadvantaged students, with 33% also stating that their school was not prepared to measure and act on differences in attainment when schools reopened in June.  The research drew on insights from almost 450 headteachers and department leaders, who described their observations and experiences of analysing and combating the growing attainment gap in UK schools post-lockdown.

Editorial reporting: New report calls for dedicated ‘Office for Edtech’ to drive change
Schools Week, 10 October
The Edtech Advisory Forum, made up of school leaders and tech specialists, has released an interim report investigating the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. The report states that a dedicated ‘Office for Edtech and Digital Skills’ should be established “at the heart of government” in order to drive “coherent national change” and support a “UK-wide approach to digital skills”. It said edtech was “fragmented” across the various government departments and suggested that an office “with clear ministerial responsibility… would coordinate and improve the focus” on edtech. 

Feature: Why we need to make Black History Month last all year
Tes, 3 October
This piece states that Black History Month has helped draw attention to forgotten histories but now it’s time to integrate those histories into the curriculum all year round. It says that this shouldn’t just be the work of history departments; sciences, the arts, languages, educators in every subject have a responsibility to both diversify and decolonise what they teach, to think about the stories that are traditionally told and those that are ignored. It states that this also means considering where the curriculum can be enriched by including the contributions of black people, as well as reflecting on how colonisation and our telling of it has continued to sideline and negate the black experience.

Opinion: Let’s take the remote out of online learning
WonkHE, 16 October
This opinion piece by Sarah Dyer, director of the Exeter Education Incubator, and Lisa Harris, director of digital learning at the University of Exeter Business School, challenges the idea of online learning as ‘remote’ or ‘at a distance’ from other learners or educators. It argues that instead of being seen as a last resort, well-structured online programmes offer obvious and significant advantages over a restricted campus-based experience. For example, it claims that online collaboration can be accessible and inclusive in ways that in-person isn’t, particularly for those with other responsibilities, those who have long commutes, and people learning in a second language. It states that digital tools have affordances which create new and different ways of being present and that community building should be a priority in how online learning is designed.

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