The New Era of Education in a Digitally Connected Economy

Education is changing because the digital economy is shifting the skills and talents needed to lead a successful life and foster personal well-being. Lifelong learning that s technologically well advanced is the new normal. 

Higher education, in particular, will play a key role, in reskilling, upskilling, and educating the global labor force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Education institutors will be able to help individuals manage a transition to a new reality.

What is needed to thrive in the digital economy involves cognitive competencies matched with technological skills. Hence, learners need to be adaptive, cognitively curious, and able to constantly learn new things and apply old knowledge to new contexts. 

Three Major Shifts in Education for the Digital Economy

The three major changes coming for education as outlined below are based upon exposure to literature, private sector reporting, and practice around the globe. It is important to highlight the governance structures, economic stability, labor relations, and the uptake of technological advances as relevant context for each country and educational institution. Three major shifts in education are identified as follows: 

1. Funding Apparatus for Education

Around the world, access to quality education is a challenge regardless of the digital economy. The biggest change that will come to the future of education is more deliberate engagement between industry, government, and educational institutions for funding learning and talent development. This will be an excellent change for education in the future digital economy. The industry will have to help pay to reskill and educate differently the global labor pool. This also involves paying to reskill educators. 

McKinsey Global Institute anticipates that nearly 1.2 billion people are currently working in automatable jobs. Furthermore, employers need to assist governments and education institutions to upskill and reskill the workforce.

Therefore, developing a resilient and effective workforce means providing financial support for lifelong learning from governments, industry, and education institutions. 

2. Lifelong Learning, Upskilling, Reskilling

Education is now a lifelong endeavor where people will have to learn, unlearn, relearn, and learn again. Lifelong learning is essential to survival and thriving in the digital economy. People can learn new facts and gain more knowledge, or they can learn how to do something through the instruction of a given skill, or they can learn why something matters which can inspire creativity and drive success. Every organization needs a learning culture that is based on growth and improvement. Therefore, cultures of growth and change need to be embedded to access in schools and in the workplace.

Moreover, executive education is likely to skyrocket in scope. Likely education institutions in the private sector that can offer badges and certifications of knowledge will be new players in the adult education sector in a way they have not been before.

Furthermore, workplace upskilling and reskilling of current employees will be a key feature of corporate action in this area for the medium term. This is also important in the longer term as GenZ employees seek firms that can offer valuable development opportunities relevant to the gig economy. 

3. Changes in Learning Mechanisms – Technological Advancement

The schools with the appropriate funding are making exciting strides in education. In recent years, virtual reality (VR) is already allowing those with access to learn anywhere about everything. While sitting in their classrooms, students can visit a faraway archaeological dig, or a museum, or a hospital, through virtual reality.  What’s more exciting? Students can 3D-print a series of molecules in a chemistry class to understand the scale of the atoms relative to each other. And they can watch an algorithm-produced video of a deceased poet from centuries back read their poem aloud. Hence, Augmented and virtual reality are changing what is possible in the classroom. 

Moreover, access to laptops and iPads gives educators real-time data about student understanding in their classrooms. Technology facilitates the relationship between educators and learning. Also, individualized, self-directed learning for students becomes possible. 

Wrapping Up

The digital economy is changing what is needed in terms of education to lead a successful life with well-being. Access and quality will continue to be challenging in the digital economy, but there are new opportunities in both areas due to the changes that the technological revolution brings. New collaborations between governments, education institutions, and industry will foster a new area in education in the digitally connected economy. 

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Smriti Rajan comes from a political science and literature background, having an immense passion for writing across varied topics. She has written several articles and blogs for diverse audiences worldwide. She has produced several research publications, policy frameworks, and opinion pieces for think tanks, government institutions and corporates. Alongside this, she writes for a large Fortune 500 clientele and is a key contributing writer for Wikistrat on their EMEA desk. Currently, she resides in India.

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