In his future-gazing work, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the founder of the World Economic Forum recognises that, ‘new technologies and approaches are merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds in ways that will fundamentally transform humankind.’ Klaus Schwab concludes, ‘there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.’
This is pertinent in education. As we approach 2020, there is little doubt that digital technology is core to the UK’s Higher Education (HE) sector. It enhances teaching and learning and has the potential to create efficiencies across all aspects of the student experience, supporting staff in delivering excellence. As the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) continues to influence education and research, there will be implications for copyright and licensing too.
The story so far
The advent of Industry 4.0 effects tertiary education in three main ways:
- Institutions are looking to provide an education that equips learners with the skills, knowledge and attributes needed to thrive in the future world of work, whether those learners are studying for a traditional degree or training course, or for smaller credits as a lifelong learner.
- The technologies that underpin Industry 4.0 will change the way institutions educate learners. They will enable different ways of designing, delivering and managing learning, teaching, assessment, communication and collaboration.
- Institutions can embrace technologies that support the strategic management of institutional data, curriculum, estates, workforce and resources.
A new era
Universities and colleges, in embracing and imparting the skills required for the jobs of the future, will work closely with learning providers and global, national, regional and local employers. Digital capabilities will be key in nurturing rounded, creative individuals with transferable skills, who continue to learn online throughout their working lives, adapting as the employment landscape evolves.
At Jisc, we call this technology-enhanced vision Education 4.0. It covers the transformation of teaching, creating an adaptive model of personalised learning, re-imagining assessment, and creating intelligent digital and physical estates. Underpinning these themes are the holistic student experience and strong organisational leadership. Technological development will enable and support these changes. If that sounds like a seismic shift, it is: Jisc’s chief executive, Paul Feldman, recently wrote ‘The potential of Education 4.0 is huge – the UK must take the lead, now.’
In taking advantage of the full potential of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, we could, potentially, see teaching happen beyond institutions. This, in turn, has implications for the use of copyrighted and licensed resources. There is also the potential that AI may be teaching students, raising questions about how to ensure that relevant licence conditions and legal requirements are met by systems, rather than people.
Personalised adaptive learning
Education 4.0 is an individualised approach that takes learner diversity, performance and behaviour into account. It’s a learning journey that adapts as the student travels along. Part of the challenge here will be ensuring that students are authorised to use those personalised resources. How do we enable AI systems to
This emerging context demands a credible, authentic, valued and accurate assessment model. Could data, AI, digital experiential learning and micro-credentials replace high-stakes tests? Could it help deliver true lifelong learning? Could it improve employability and student outcomes? With the current increase in contract cheating and collusion, do we need to ‘fix’ assessment or re-imagine it?
(Digital) student experience
Another key aim is to improve the student experience through creating a seamless path between the digital and physical estates. These different environments should work together, responding to student journeys. In order to fully embrace Education 4.0, we need an understanding of the student experience across each institution, including digital touchpoints where technology can enhance their social and academic life. Jisc’s annual insights surveys gather such information, helping institutions and the sector gain a holistic understanding of the role of digital technology as students move into, through and out of study, and later into employment. This includes study through work-based routes, as well as interactions with a range of systems through the learning day.
(Digital) leadership for the future
The future will require digitally-informed and engaged leaders who are able to help their organisations respond effectively to technology-driven change. Such management teams will be responsible for building the capacity and capability to deliver inevitable changes brought by Education
4.0. Copyright and licensing implications may arise from a future of AI and machine learning, and under a model of teaching and learning which, though similar to that we see today, could work very differently.
Dedicated to the education and research communities, Jisc is a social enterprise that invests and reinvested in our core purpose: working in partnership with our members to develop creative digital solutions. Together with universities and colleges, Jisc will build a vision of Education 4.0, meeting the challenges and embracing the opportunities of the future.
Jisc’s vision is for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world. At its heart is the super-fast national research and education network, Janet, with built-in cyber security protection. Jisc also provides technology solutions for its members (colleges, universities and research centres) and customers (public sector bodies), helps members save time and money by negotiating sector-wide deals and provides advice and practical assistance on digital technology. Jisc is funded by the UK higher and further education and research funding bodies and member institutions.
James Clay is the Head of Higher Education and Student Experience at Jisc.
This blog was originally published in the Winter 2019 CITE Magazine.