The role of educators is to prepare students for the future and to equip them with the skills they need for success. However, the advancement of technology has dramatically changed the future that students are walking into – and in doing so, altered what they must prepare for and how they prepare for it. The mission of schools should be to empower their students to achieve more; Microsoft is constantly evaluating avenues for student growth and how to facilitate it with technology. In their white paper “Keys to the Future: Worldwide Readiness Skills to Ensure Student Success”, Microsoft discusses the role of school leaders and teachers, as well as with the data they can utilise to determine what to focus on to provide critical and actionable insights for their student body. They also discuss the importance of the local, regional, and national development of educational curricula to prepare students appropriately and broadly.
The white paper goes on to explore the complexities associated with predicting what skills the leaders of tomorrow will need to learn about today. Educators have to balance new technology with traditional subjects and equip children with the emotional intelligence required to engage well as digital citizens both now and into their future. So, what should schools be focusing on, and how do we prepare the graduates of tomorrow?
Microsoft, along with the IDC, focused on over 76million job postings to come up with the answer, identifying the positions that they anticipate will have the highest anticipated growth and wages in the next decade. This revealed that required skills across all occupations included proficiency in oral and written communication, problem-solving, detail orientation, marketing skills, integrity, customer service, and digital knowledge. These skills can be engaged in a traditional sense, with collaboration, problem-solving, and creative and critical thinking universal to most educators. However, they are also at the heart of digital growth. Communication and collaboration have been shaped by technology, with new opportunities to learn and engage with the world and other peers opening with every passing month. Software skills are also pushing forward for critical thinkers, with many future professions requiring 21st-century skills.
It is because of these skillsets that educators need to provide better ways to prepare students for life beyond graduation. If they are to be successful, they must have the fundamentals of collaboration, communication, and critical and creative thinking in place. They can do this by deploying the right digital tools to facilitate learning and act upon engagement, rather than entertainment, with technology within the classroom. Educators must be looking to anchor their curriculums in the real world and examine what underlying skills are required for ongoing success. The foundation for growth now includes digital technologies, but will always focus on developing well-rounded students who can think critically and contribute positively to their community.
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