Blockbuster. Netflix. Toys ‘R’ Us. Amazon. Radio Shack. Amazon. Kmart. Amazon. Taxicab. Uber. Lyft Newspapers. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. YouTube. On demand content.
Advances in technology are disrupting almost every industry, and in almost every country. No longer do nature’s borders significantly reduce the acceleration of change. Take a moment to consider the digital disruption that has already occurred in the following industries (Goodwin, 2015).
- The largest taxi company owns no (human driven) taxis (Uber)
- The largest accommodations provider owns no real estate. (AirBnB)
- One of the most valuable retailers has no inventory. (Alibaba)
- The most popular media platform creates no content. (Facebook)
- The largest movie house owns no cinemas. (Netflix)
- The largest phone companies own no telecommunications infrastructure. (Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger)
- The fastest growing banks actually have no money. (Kickstarter, Zopa, SocietyOne)
- The largest software vendors don’t write the apps. (Apple, Google)
Our current “Fourth Industrial Revolution” has wrecked havoc on the way we’ve always done things. The time period in which we are in – the age of automation – will continue to systematically shift the way we live, work, and connect to and with one another. It will affect the very essence of the way humans experience the world. For yet another example, check out this week’s article on “America’s Dying Industries: These businesses lost the most workers in the past decade.“
One prediction from McKinsey suggests that:
3%-14% of the global workforce may need to switch occupations or acquire new skills.
As weekly stories hit the news about the changing world of work, some may start to think, “If everything is going to be automated, why do we even do what we do?”
…and what a LOSER mentality that would be.
Because here’s the reality…
Today’s educators, and those leading classrooms and schools, are some of the most dynamic, creative, dedicated people on the planet. They are life changers and their impact is so vast, that their thumbprint will be on the lives of the children that they serve for generations to come.
Today’s educators work alongside students that will create new industries that our generations never imagined or figured out.
Today’s educators work alongside students that will find cures to things that our generations never could.
Today’s educators work alongside students that will solve world problems that our generations never did.
On one hand, that’s amazing humbling. On the other hand, it proves that every day for an educator is an amazing opportunity. That’s the power in the work of an educator every day.
Yet, how we teach, and what we focus on, is vital to consider. It always has been, and it always will be. What are the skills that tomorrow’s workforce needs to thrive? The 2018 Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum, identified the following:
The projections of the future skills and the future workforce, are just that.
In other words, no one knows for sure. But one thing that people will agree on, is the change continues to accelerate.
So what can educators do with so much uncertainty when what’s outside their classroom walls continues to change?
- Focus on deeper levels of learning. Learning how to learn, unlearn, and relearn will benefit students as their world continues to change. In fact, it’ll undoubtedly be a needed skill.
- Leverage technology as an accelerant, but be cautious of the fluff. Today’s technology can support incredible learning experiences. Yet, it can also be a colossal waste of time and money as educators get all jacked up for the latest app, tool, or site, that often promotes very low levels of learning. High levels of engagement on very low-level tasks will always yield very low-level learning.
- Empower student agency. Learners with agency will solve the problems that we never could. Learners with agency, will create the next round of jobs to replace those that have been automated.
- Focus on quality; not the platform or materials. Follow social media and you’ll get an impression that going paperless or getting rid of particular materials to fully digitize things is the only way to go, or it’s the cool thing to do. Yet that all or nothing mindset is incredibly misguided and at times harmful. Just because something is digital, doesn’t mean it’s any good. You can be 100% paperless, 100% using devices, and 100% low-level learning. Quality first. Every time.
- Foster meaningful, authentic relationships. All evidence points to relationships being one of the top indicators of student success. Although relationships can’t fully overcome poor pedagogy, great pedagogy with toxic relationships will lead to very poor learning experiences. Creating a culture of innovation in your classroom begins with getting to know students as learners; their interests, passions, and strengths…and proving to them every day that they matter.
Your work as an educator has tremendous power. Never lose sight of why we do what we do. The work isn’t about us. It’s always about them.
All for the kids we serve,
Goodwin, T. (2015). The battle is for the customer interface. TechCrunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/03/in-the-age-of-disintermediation-the-battle-is-all-forthe-customer-interface
McKinsey & Company (2017). Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/jobs-lost-jobs-gained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages
World Economic Forum (2018). 5 Things to Know About the Future of Jobs. Image retrieved from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/future-of-jobs-2018-things-to-know/