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Education and Learning in our E-World

    Last Updated on May 22, 2023

    What learning objectives should we set in our Digital Age?

    OR How to keep up with the Joneses when they can program their smart Fridge but you can’t program your clock radio

    Since returning from Munich last May, I have been spending a growing number of days away from the hands-on job of building websites and crafting digital marketing.

    Instead of being in the office, I am in the classroom teaching everything from Beginners WordPress, Coding for Kids, SEO for Small Businesses – all the way to preparing for a series on Media Competencies for Seniors, and E-Commerce Vocational Curriculum Development for a foreign country.

    This switch made it very clear to me that there are more than three tribes in our digital world – beyond the users and creators and spectators – there are the teachers.

    If you have every created a lesson plan, you know that there are many parallels to the amount of time you spend making something compared to the amount of time required to use it.

    Parents experience a similiar event at Christmas time when they spend 8 hours with their kids building a lego space station, only to have it knocked down in 8 minutes.

    Disruption versus Innovation

    The faster we drive, the less we notice the scenery – or the squirrel crossing the road. In the same way, the faster we change and the less we understand that change, the less we will be prepared for the disrupters – unless we are very well educated – and unless we unlearn much of what we know.

    It all comes down to the difference between being innovative and being disruptive. If we are innovative we are improving on an existing process – which I believe takes time. To be disruptive, we only need to be visionary enough to see where an opportunity avails itself – and then get stuck in.

    In preparation for an upcoming class, the actual difficulty most countries are finding themselves in – ie the lack of skilled tech workers – is at the center of our workshops. If you know how many hours there are in a day, compared with how much work you have to get done, the problem of how we are meant to keep up as a society will not be lost on you.

    The question I was muddling over this afternoon, in the preparation of the talks, was WHAT do we teach – to WHOM – and most importantly WHY? Do we prepare to be Disrupters or Innovators? And, is this even a choice any more?

    The non-linearity of technological change

    Everyone knows about exponential growth via the game of chess and the grains of rice story. It is this incredible speed of digital growth and technological change we are facing today in our education, work, and culture.

    Most of us, at my age at least, were not trained in school, nor in university, for today’s workplace. When I was at university there were not yet bank machines, or even CDs. Marketing was cool if you did it with fax machines when I began in the industry. Everything I do today I have needed to learn as I go along.

    Even if we try and keep up it can be tough. Things I love, like CSS for instance, have to be put on the back burner for the sake of learning a new framework or programming language – not so that I can be proficient in it, but at the very least I can explain what it is and how it can be used – or not – to clients and students.

    It is not just us who have trouble keeping up. Government has a growing difficulty keeping up with enforcement and regulation of everything from E-Cigarettes to Influencer Marketing to Gaming. It takes some time to understand the ramifications of new technology, and it is often too fast in coming at us for us to make an informed decision or action.

    The Digital Dilemma

    Our favourite past-time is probably that of shopping. Digital technology has enabled us to move into the fast lane of consumer consumption – with all the problems and benefits this brings. Online shopping malls, amazon prime delivery, voice search and order on your smartphone … even the mom & pop store can use google analytics to track customer shopping trends.

    As our population ages (Germany has a population older than 65 currently sitting at 23%) and the number of employable youth either stagnates or dwindles, our healthcare will become a very important subject. EHealth offers everything from online prescriptions to virtual housecalls. The numbers of actual healthcare workers is diminshing however, and the ability to train them for digital care is at the same time.

    When the infrastructure of a country like Germany is ranked alongside Columbia and Albania as a Digital Developing Country, we have to wonder how much money will be available to train our workers and young people with the skills they will need – if we know what those skills will actually be in five or ten years?

    However – Education and Learning was the stick I wanted to shake this afternoon. I know it isn’t a new stick – but it is a pointy one, with a sticky end. Probably we should be aware of that in the event we accidentally step on it in our travels.

    Further Reading

    I have written about Digital Transformation often in previous months: