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The evolving role of education

In this video, Dr Chie Adachi speaks with Alfred Deakin Professor Beverley Oliver about the future of postsecondary education in the 21st century.

Does formal education provide all that’s needed for us to survive and thrive in a world full of complex problems?

According to a recent World Economic Forum report, we are at the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era characterised by dramatic changes in the world of work and the skills required to thrive both in the jobs of today and into the future.

Is education for qualifications or skills?

Over recent years, this new era has challenged and shifted traditional understandings about the role of formal education in providing job-ready skills as well as qualifications.

Besides the disciplinary-specific knowledge people require to become who they want to be in the world (e.g. educators, optometrists, artists, accountants, programmers), more tacit knowledge and transferable skills such as creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and emotional intelligence are now also recognised as enablers for successful lives and careers.

For example, in a hugely popular TEDtalk, Sir Ken Robinson (2006) articulated the importance of creative thinking (which can be easily silenced in formal education) as distinct from academic capabilities and qualifications.

How do we prepare learners for job readiness?

According to one recent study, out of 600 human resource leaders interviewed, 52 per cent of employers believe there is a skills gap and 47 per cent blamed higher education for this.

Another report argues that a lack of job readiness is also a concern for science graduates. In contrast to other professional disciplines, such as education and optometry, these graduates are more likely to have completed generalist degrees not directly linked to specific jobs.

In response, there’s growing recognition that learning is a life-long activity that occurs both inside and outside of formal educational settings. So how do we, as both educators and digital learning practitioners, respond to this?

Your task

Watch the video where Chie interviews Emeritus Professor Beverley Oliver about the future of education and reflect on the statement: ‘We all learn on the fly now, so life-wide, life-long [learning] is really coming as a reality’.

What is your view about the role of formal and informal (eg ‘learning on the fly’) education in the digital age?

Discuss your thoughts with other learners in the comments.

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