Updated: Jul 25
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How far should we go in using AI to track and measure student engagement? How does automation affect the nature of work, and how can education systems evolve? How is opportunity in business changing? What are the pros and cons of working in the gig economy?
This week we've taken a broad look at how work is changing and what the future of learning might look like. We always seek to be curious about what new skills and competencies will be essential to thrive in work and what this means for how we organise and facilitate learning. This week looks at just four of the many and varied factors that influence learning, and our focus is:
1. One example of how AI and technology can be used to measure student engagement.
2. What new skills and competencies will be needed for work in the year 2030.
3. Why data and information now contributes more to global GDP than trade, and what this could mean for learning.
4. The opportunities and pitfalls of working in the gig economy, and how workers can be prepared.
Should students, teachers, parents and school communities leverage the potential of technology such as artificial intelligence to its full potential to enhance learning, or proceed with caution?
Via The Hechinger Report, here's an interesting example showing some of the thinking around how AI and technology can be used to measure and increase student engagement. The AI uses the camera and sensors in a device such as an iPad to track a child's eye and body movement to measure levels of engagement with whatever's on the screen, and then provides report to their supervising adults about how engaged they are.
The programme rewards diligence - 'let's read for an hour then play', and the data collected is limited and not stored unless in 'extraordinary circumstances'. The company developing the technology, FaceMetrics, has just received 2 million dollars in funding to build the technology, and investors are clearly betting on this technology becoming more widespread.
What are your thoughts on this? Does this technology have the potential to measure actual and deep engagement, or a child's ability to have their attention drawn to whatever's happening on a screen? What does 'extraordinary circumstances' mean? It's worth having the discussion at least.
The nature of work in almost every occupation and work-related tasks is expected to be affected by automation by the year 2030. This does not mean that all jobs will disappear, merely that many will be augmented by automation or new jobs will be created. With augmentation and the creation of new jogs thanks to rapid technological advancement come the need for new skills and competencies, and McKinsey has identified the following as being essential:
1. Demand for advanced technological skills such as programming will grow rapidly.
2. Social, emotional, and higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, and complex information processing, will also see growing demand.
3. Basic digital skills demand has been increasing and that trend will continue and accelerate.
One of the ten challenges to solve identified in this article is 'Evolving education systems and learning for a changed workplace'. Learning systems such as schools and higher education providers need to focus on developing skills and competencies such as higher order thinking and life-long learning habits.
"There is work for everyone today and there will be work for everyone tomorrow, even in a future with automation. Yet that work will be different, requiring new skills, and a far greater adaptability of the workforce than we have seen. Training and retraining both mid-career workers and new generations for the coming challenges will be an imperative."
Are our students and education systems prepared for these coming changes? What conversations do we need to have within our schools and learning communities?
Global data and information flows now have more impact on GDP than the global trade in goods, which is remarkable considering that it was almost non-existent 15 years ago. Business can now be done globally quickly and easily from a laptop, and cross border data flows are expected to increase by about nine times in the next five years. People are trading, learning, growing networks and otherwise sharing information on a global scale. This trend highlights the trend of 'Internetization', which we shared several months back, in which while the traditional view of globalisation (global goods trade, major capital flows) has slowed, huge multinational companies are being supplanted by millions of small and medium-sized ones, and that's where the growth is happening.
Opportunity abounds for those who have this information and understand how the world of work is changing. Are our schools and students having these conversations? Are our learning communities and parents aware of what's happening? Do they understand how work and the idea of opportunity is changing?
The gig economy is growing, and it's very likely that today's school students will be involved in it in some form or another during their working lives. It's a different type of work, and they will need to have their eyes open to what to expect.
Traditional, full-time work is declining, and in its place is temporary, flexible work done by independent contractors or freelancers. Such working arrangements are becoming desirable for companies of all sizes; workers' hours don't need to be guaranteed, they are only paid for the work they produce, and they can also be let go if things don't work out. There are benefits for the workers too. They can choose who they want to work with, when they work, the types of work they do, how much they charge, and generally have the opportunity to exercise entrepreneurship and a level of flexibility unknown to many traditional, full-time workers.
However, such work comes with risks. Companies don't need to pay holidays, medical, parental leave, health insurance or make retirement contributions. This means that workers in the gig economy have to organise this themselves, and those that don't can wind up seriously exposed if something unexpected happens.
This app provides a solution for one class of worker in the gig economy, in which clients can make voluntary contributions to build credits that can be exchanged for benefits such as healthcare.
It's a start so far as solutions go, but this conversation has to start much earlier. What knowledge and skills will a person need to thrive in the new era of work? Understanding of financial planning has always seemed like a good idea to teach students, but it's never really taken off in schools - now it's starting to look like an imperative.
Are we having conversations with our students and school communities about how the nature of work and opportunity is changing, an what knowledge and competencies will be needed to thrive? If not, why not?
Thank you for joining us this week. Please don't forget to comment on our articles and posts - we want to share ideas, critical thought and constructive feedback.