Caroline Kennard, international business development director at Encyclopaedia Britannica, discusses the technical revolution and how schools can prepare by increasing digital literacy…
Parliament has recently launched an inquiry into the education system and its standards in what they have termed the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. This inquiry focuses on the suitability of the current school curriculum with the increased use of technology in all aspects of life, including in the classroom and in the workforce.
With the vast increase in the use of technology in all stages of life, students and teachers are facing a dilemma: how do they comprehensively develop digital literacy skills while also feeling engaged with the course materials.
Responding to this challenge, the next way of curriculum being explored shifts the focus in the classroom from a more rigid formulaic exam route to a more creative curriculum that provides greater opportunities for engagement and the enrichment of learning. This need for an education that teaches reflection, critical thinking, and questioning is becoming more apparent, particularly as the importance of digital literacy grows alongside the digital and tech-centric workforce of the future.
Additionally, despite the skills gap in the workforce, employers continue to have an expectation that the employees already possess the necessary skills to live, work, and succeed in a digital society. Further, this expectation relies on educators preparing pupils for life after schooling by making sure digital literacy is engraved throughout their course work.
Responding to this deficit, education technology providers have recognised the necessity of ensuring digital literacy of students and have started to develop products that empower teachers and students in developing these skills. In particular, tools that help students filter our misinformation can be extremely beneficial for their overall learning, but also allows them to improve their ability to filter out less credible sources.
The internet is arguably the most frequently used dataset by students and effectively leveraging education technology resources of this nature, identifies unique relationships and produces valuable insights that provide deeper context and connections. This ability to ensure the accuracy of information limits students’ use of untrustworthy knowledge-sources and protects them from online manipulation.
Shifting the learning frameworks to focus on the substance of learning will allow students’ digital literacy skills to be developed more effectively. Instilling critical thinking skills, an awareness of the necessary standards of behavior expected in online environments, and an understanding of the shared social issues created by digital technologies, is not only best-practice, it is a prerequisite for ensuring the next generation are well-equipped to tackle the workforce of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.