“People will create the jobs of the future, not simply train for them, and technology is already central. It will undoubtedly play a greater role in years ahead” (Jonathan Grudin, Principal Researcher, Microsoft). It is obvious today that the leaders of tomorrow will enter a market that we have never seen before. According to the World Economic Forum, we are on the verge of a revolution that will redefine the world around us – socially, individually, and in the workplace. It is predicted that 375 million people will need to switch the kind of work they are doing by the year 2030 and that a flexible workforce that can adapt rapidly is critical to economic success.
Looking to the Future
The Microsoft Education Guide explores the importance of education systems that are oriented toward producing youth who are future-ready. This means equipping them with skills now that they can use well beyond their graduation. However, there are challenges associated with this. Jonathan Grudin writes “In one of the largest ever global studies into future-ready skills and how to teach them, researchers found that 90 per cent of schools surveyed mentioned future-ready skills in their public messaging, yet less than 1 per cent had a common language or agreed definition for what they mean. Fewer still had adopted a deliberate strategy for how to teach or assess these skills.”
The big question many educators are asking is how do you teach future-readiness? What does that look like in a realistic setting – one in a real classroom with a set curriculum? Microsoft’s research, which spanned seven countries and tens of thousands of cases, discovered that the quality of teaching assignments strongly predicted the level to which students demonstrated future-ready skills. This suggests a ‘ceiling effect’ created by teachers; one that can be overcome by helping educators realise what future-readiness looks like, and what is required for student success in a digitally saturated age. The role of an educator is to give students the tools they need to thrive. But these tools have changed – and thus, so too must learning. Our focus needs to shift to enhancing collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Problem solving and agility are also essential for success in a modern world, as is the ability to embrace technology as a platform for learning and not just a compliment for a classroom.
Teaching Future Readiness
The problem of preparing students today for their future tomorrow can be solved with problem-solving. Indeed, problem-solving skills are in high demand in today’s workplace, and this is only expected to increase in years to come. It is essential that students can develop the creativity and confidence required to imagine and innovate ways to overcome the challenges they will face. In fact, reaching real-world problem solving helps students become more skilled in making informed decisions. Twenty-nine studies found that students who were taught to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills had better verbal and non-verbal reasoning, were more motivated to learn, and achieved significantly more across their curriculum. Motivation, cognition, and grades improved – and this was evidenced across all grades. From an early age, teachers should be leaning toward critical thinking and problem-solving. However, these skills can be hard to define.
Educators need to hone in on how to improve how students think, rather than changing what they think. This means understanding that answers are not constant, and instead accept that knowledge is ever-evolving and contestable. Evidence is needed to support arguments, and questioning leads to better judgement and better outcomes. This can be done by encouraging students to ask authentic, searching questions, as well as to develop how they explore, evaluate, and explain the information they have learned.
Classrooms, expectations, and the world around us are constantly evolving. Education has changed. Technology is shaping how we teach, what we teach, and how students learn. Schools can make the most of their digital investments, learning to apply technology in a way that helps their campus thrive well into future.
Prepare the class of today for the future of tomorrow. Contact MOQdigital today to find out more.