As educators we’ve always tried to minimise the impact of disruption to learning and teaching. Yet we live in an age of (digital) disruption and the rapid onset of more powerful and converging technologies compel us to adapt and respond in today’s world.
As new technologies connect and personalise how we live, work and learn in powerful ways, most schools and universities continue to operate in a time warp that ignores the trends and reality of a changing world. Digital disruption highlights just how much resistance to change there is across education, the very industry that should be at the forefront of innovative thinking. Unless we become early adopters and evangelists, we will join other industries that have failed to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
The university sector is exploring the concept of University 4.0 characterised by flexible teaching methods, shorter degrees and needs based (micro) qualifications. It also calls for universities to be co-located with industries and start-ups so that students gain meaningful real-world experiences.
LaTrobe University head John Dewar said recently, “University 4.0 recognises that…modern students will take pathways into and out of higher education throughout their careers…the shelf life of the knowledge earned in a degree is getting shorter, that we need to engage increasingly with an array of partners in the outside world.”
The challenge for us is to explore the concept of Schools 4.0, where a narrow curriculum framework is replaced by a curriculum that follows the child, where students have multiple and flexible pathways to success, where each school engages with a variety of collaborative partners to complement learning, where there is a balance of virtual/physical, digital/analogue and where we innovative to learn.
Our system’s exploration of ‘Schools 4.0’ has informed the design of St Luke’s Catholic College, Marsden Park and the STEM focussed school located within Sydney’s Science Park (right) at Luddenham. Both schools represent the next iteration of thinking around schooling in today’s world bringing together contemporary theory, practice and evidence. While many schools were fit for purpose in an industrial age, we need schools to be fit for purpose in the knowledge age.
Similar to University 4.0, these schools will work collaboratively with industry and community partners. The Sydney Science Park school will be co-located with science and technology industries. It represents a new ecosystem of schooling that is dynamic, digital, collaborative, and responsive to changing needs and times.
Like it or not, the world will continue to change and open up new opportunities to redesign schooling. Technology platforms will allow new ways of working. Global connections for learning certification and accreditation will create competition among providers in a whole new way. What it means to be a teacher will change, and that’s ok.
As Pope Francis said in 2015, we are not ‘living in an era of change but a change of era’ – an era where disruption has become the norm.