Ahead of his talk at the Aoc/Jisc Technology Summit on Monday 17 June, Robin Ghurbhurun encourages FE leaders to prepare for Industry 4.0.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming science fact rather than science fiction. Alexa is everywhere from the house to the car, Siri is in the palm of your hand and students and the wider community can now get instant responses to their queries. We as educators have a duty to make sense of the information out there, working alongside AI to facilitate students’ curiosities.
Our sector should not simply try to keep up with the latest innovation. Fads come and go. We have all experienced technology disruptors - the written word and books were at one time considered a threat to power through knowledge. Video didn’t kill the radio star, it made radio stars more accessible.
Both these examples provided educators with the sensory tools to enhance engagement and create experiential learning platforms. Now, we all have unimaginable instant access to data and information - and that’s a game-changer.
Ignorance is inexcusable. Today’s Gen C students are always connected - in their friendship groups, for their news services, their social arrangements and engagements. We would be foolhardy to ignore that.
Instead of banning mobile phones on campus, let's manage our learning environments differently for the betterment of all. Let’s set boundaries, decide which tools to use, ask when technology can help and when it isn’t appropriate. It’s our duty, as leaders and teachers, to understand where our students are sourcing their information from, how credible it is, how they can apply it, and how they can benefit from it now as learners and in future as employees and employers.
The realisation of 5G will unleash further the ubiquity of access, placing increasing demands on facts, reality and appropriate application. Are you ready?
Change for good
As we are on the cusp of the second decade of the 21st century, technology should be making education more accessible, and it should be helping our teachers teach. We must use it wisely to narrow the social divide, not widen it.
We need to plan strategically to avoid a future where only the wealthy have access to human teachers, whilst others are taught with AI. We want all students to benefit from both. We should have teacher-approved content from VLEs and AI assistants supporting learning and discussion, everywhere from the classroom to the workplace. Let’s learn from the domestic market; witness the increasing rise of co-bot workers coming to an office near you.
We have to think carefully about our pedagogy moving forward, and scrutinise the role technology plays in preparing Gen C for their future employability.
Infrastructure is still the priority. At Richmond upon Thames College, we aim to integrate Internet of Things (IoT) gateways to support devices - from wearables to learning and customer analytics. This ‘big data’ environment will be supported through a high-density wifi infrastructure across our new campus.
We’re also thinking about how people will engage with technology, personalising each student’s learning experience, and using augmented reality maps to help students navigate the building so they always feel comfortable and confident.
Walking the talk
Preparing successfully for the fourth industrial revolution - Industry 4.0 - is about understanding what digital transformation means to you and your community. How are you, as a leader, walking the talk? How can developments such as augmented reality and AI improve your stakeholder experience?
Strategically, our collective journey must be the shift from where colleges are currently in terms of learning analytics to where we want to be around cognitive analytics and artificial intelligence. Most crucially of all, can you define what success will look like?
We must start with transforming the culture of our organisation to be digital-first. In the past, the education sector has been behind the curve with technology – and, to an extent, that’s been ok. Today, we have reached some limitations. To be prepared for tomorrow, we should equip our organisations to leap from Education 2.0 to Education 4.0.
Robin Ghurburhun is delivering a talk, ‘leading and driving technological change through an intelligent campus’ at the AoC/Jisc Technology Summit at Google in London, 17 June 2019.