Traditional business and education models will need to continually adapt to remain relevant
How do we prepare ourselves and the next generation to thrive in the digital age?
Tackling this question head on is the International Youth Leadership and Innovation Forum (IYLIF). I recently participated as a panelist in this annual conference held in Singapore by As Many Minds.
This year, the forum deep dived into education topics related to technical innovations, embedding a growth mindset, importance of diversity and developing our youth for tomorrow’s economy.
The forum also showcased inspirational and thought provoking presentations from youth ambassadors discussing their views, hopes and dreams for the future.
A key topic throughout the forum was the advancement and impact of artificial intelligence – and for good reason.
AI is a key part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0. According to the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by the convergence of breakthrough technologies – such as advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, virtual and augmented reality, wearables and additive manufacturing - will impact almost every part of our lives; how we do business, how we work and how we live.
In the panel “Technology, education and disruption” I was joined by leaders in technology, education and leadership.
The panelists discussed the wider technical innovative trends driving business and consumers and provided some narrative on the virtuous circle driving innovation and customer experience.
Meaning, as technology advances so do our expectations and as our expectations increase, it in turn drives vendors and businesses to be more innovative, which feeds directly back into the virtuous circle, and the innovation cycle continues.
The panel conversation quickly turned to AI’s ability to impact the way we learn and a step further, the way future generations will experience education as a whole.
We are already seeing technology used in classrooms to augment the learning experience with the proliferation and wide use of laptops (as early as primary school years), interactive digital whiteboards and in some cases the early adoption of augmented and virtual reality.
Soft skills, creativity, empathy, critical thinking, agility and resilience will all be key attributes that will help our youth (and for that matter, everyone) thrive in the digital age.
Education disruptors and innovators such as Harvard are already disrupting the classroom setting with their HBX platform – an interactive and immersive online classroom experience that provides the closest “Harvard experience” for online students other than physically being in the hallowed classrooms of the famous Harvard Institute.
This platform is opening up the “Harvard experience” to completely new demographics and in more cases than not breaking down traditional barriers of social, cultural, economic and geographical status. The panellist agreed that these types of innovative platforms and learning experiences will continue to grow and mature, and both educators and students will need to adjust accordingly.
More so as technology advancement augments the experience further through AI, machine learning and changes to how content is delivered. It is not such a wild thought that our youth will be educated by an AI/robotic interface in the foreseeable future.
The panel then focused on how we prepare our youth for the digital age – an age where AI and “robots” will likely redefine many jobs as we know them today and create many jobs that we don’t even know of yet, but more importantly, how do we prepare our youth to become leaders in these disruptive times?
The panel agreed that soft skills, creativity, empathy, critical thinking, agility and resilience will all be key attributes that will help our youth (and for that matter, everyone) thrive in the digital age. But these skills will need a new approach to learning and mastering.
The importance of these skills is not new, in fact, for over 20 years I have seen my team members easily master the more technical aspects of their jobs, but the softer “more human” skills are often overlooked, and for many, these are key blind spots in ability and leadership style.
It was agreed by the panelists that we must start to focus on these skills now with a chronic unease. Meaning, we must be relentless in disrupting our own thinking and preconceptions of how we are applying these key skills in our daily lives, both at work and at home.
We need to analyse our respective leadership shadows and we need to be open to identify our own gaps and more importantly, implement the steps to bridge these gaps.
It is only then we can start to lead by example, raising the bar and equipping the youth of today with the tools, so as they mature, they can accelerate their ability to bridge their own gaps and become the leaders of the future.
So how do we prepare ourselves and the next generation to thrive in the digital age? The panelists closed on these key points:
The disruption from advancements in AI technologies is inevitable and traditional business and education models will need to continually adapt to remain relevant.
Newer generations will have different learning experiences and challenges. We must disrupt our own thinking now and become familiar with these new models to help guide our youth as they navigate future choices.
We need to lead by example in “softer” skills development in order to elevate their importance and promote thought leadership in the age of AI.
Knowing and acting on these points will enable us to move forward with some certainty in these uncertain times – providing our new generations with the confidence to embrace the future and prosper from the many opportunities that lay ahead. Embrace the change, embrace the future.
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