Where is future education heading in 2018 and beyond?

If there’s anything Canada can be proud of (and there’s plenty), we can be proud for having the highest proportion of college graduates in the OECD. With numerous world-class universities across the country, students are spoiled for choice when we take into account traditional and alternative future education options.

However, there often is a disagreement on the best way to learn, and the best way to teach.

The Canadian Universities Survey says that only 56% of students benefit from hands-on, experiential learning; however, 80% of employers recognise students who have had job-ready education as valuable potential future employees. With this gap between what universities see and what employers want, how can we bridge the skills gaps between the past, present, and future of education? To answer these questions, we’re assembling a panel of Vancouver’s most passionate tech-educators, to discuss how the education industry is ready for a revamp.

We know that traditional models are no longer working – we know where we are, we know where we need to be, but how are we going to get there?

 

A New Model For A New World

Colin Mansell, Founder and CEO of RED Academy, is animated as he explains his vision for the classroom in ten years’ time as we move away from what we traditionally think of.

“Tradtional education is trying to tell you that your worth is based on a piece of paper… But it’s completely disconnected from reality.”

“The future of learning is doing,” he continues. “We know that it results in higher rates of retention, and it’s undisputed that theoretical knowledge does not equate to actual knowledge.” A classroom in ten years’ time won’t see students attempting to learn coding from textbooks and lecture halls of thousands of students – they’ll be learning by doing, and achieving more while they learn.

Mansell also has aspirations for a changing model of funding education. With the rising costs of education, many people are being priced out of the market, or leaping into life-long debt just to compete in today’s job market. What the industry needs, he explains, is a shake-up of how we charge our students. Mansell describes flipped funding as the idea that “the industry funds the education of people who they’ve hired based on culture, the industry decides what its they want their employees to learn, and institutions like RED step in and provide that education.”

It means a student isn’t digging themselves into a lifetime of debt, and it means employers are investing in their team’s future.

RED Academy Students Sitting At A Table

Accessibility Is Key

Jess Pilsner is a Washington-based teacher, and part of the Microsoft Global Mentors Group. She believes that schools that don’t keep up with the changing face of experiential tech education won’t be around to see the classroom of 2028 if they don’t integrate tech-ed. She sees the need for integration of technology in every aspect of the classroom; “however,” Pilsner says, “it’s one thing for computers to be thrown into the classroom, but how will our students learn to use the technology if our teachers don’t know how to use them?”

“Teachers are being told to integrate computer science principles into the classroom, but we often don’t have access to the tools. It could be as small as a school’s cumbersome booking systems for the computer labs, to as systemic as lack of government funding for up-to-date textbooks.”

Pilsner believes that this change will happen over the next ten years, both at an internal level as students demand relevant education, as well as at a governmental level with more funding for technical training.

Personalisation And Individualised Learning

Stella Lee is a consultant in digital learning with an academic background, having worked in the university space for many years as academic staff, on curriculum and faculty development. She knows that a university can be slow to react, quoting,

“In the last 100 years, almost every aspect of life has changed… Except a classroom today still looks like classroom 100 years ago.”

Although a university is a slow-moving machine, one trend Lee has noticed recently is greater adoption of personalised learning. Lee anticipates a growing adoption of technologies that facilitate individualised content over the next few years, saying, “it’s not guaranteed that students will learn at the same pace – just because they’re the same age or cohort, doesn’t mean they all have the same capabilities or understanding of content.”

REDefining Education

The movement towards integrating technology into education is picking up speed, as educators across all sectors seek to change traditional formats. What Mansell, Pilsner and Lee all want to communicate is that our current educational systems aren’t enough. Greater adoption of experiential learning, and greater integration and adoption is what today’s students need in order to be tomorrow’s success stories.

As the tech and start-up industry demands more talent, how can we as educators step in and be part of that revolution?