Philosophy can teach children what Google can’t | Charlotte Blease

With jobs being automated and knowledge being devalued, humans need to rediscover flexible thinking. That starts in schools

3500 Ireland’s president Michael D Higgins: ‘The teaching of philosophy is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to empower children.’ Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

At the controls of driverless cars, on the end of the telephone when you call your bank or favourite retailer: we all know the robots are coming, and in many cases are already here. Back in 2013, economists at Oxford University’s Martin School estimated that in the next 20 years, more than half of all jobs would be substituted by intelligent technology. Like the prospect of robot-assisted living or hate it, it is foolish to deny that children in school today will enter a vastly different workplace tomorrow – and that’s if they’re lucky. Far from jobs being brought back from China, futurologists predict that white-collar jobs will be increasingly outsourced to digitisation as well as blue-collar ones.

How should educationalists prepare young people for civic and professional life in a digital age? Luddite hand-wringing won’t do. Redoubling investment in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects won’t solve the problem either: hi-tech training has its imaginative limitations.

In the near future school-leavers will need other skills. In a world where technical expertise is increasingly narrow, the skills and confidence to traverse disciplines will be at a premium. We will need people who are prepared to ask, and answer, the questions that aren’t Googleable: like what are the ethical ramifications of machine automation? What are the political consequences of mass unemployment? How should we distribute wealth in a digitised society? As a society we need to be more philosophically engaged.

Amid the political uncertainties of 2016, the Irish president Michael D Higgins provided a beacon of leadership in this area. “The teaching of philosophy,” he said in November, “is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to empower children into acting as free and responsible subjects in an ever more complex, interconnected, and uncertain world.” Philosophy in the classroom, he emphasised, offers a “path to a humanistic and vibrant democratic culture”. Read more…

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Employers Want Workplace-Ready Grads, But Can Higher Ed Deliver? | From the Bell Tower

By on March 19, 2014 1 Comment

steven bell newswire Employers Want Workplace Ready Grads, But Can Higher Ed Deliver? | From the Bell TowerA new survey reveals a wide gap between provosts and business leaders when it comes to judging college students’ readiness for the workplace. What can academic librarians take away from the controversy?

As the cost of college tuition has skyrocketed in the past decade, students and parents expectations for a graduate’s state of career readiness have grown. And as the job market continues to offer limited opportunity for college graduates, students look to build any and every personal advantage. These factors find their way into the curriculum in many ways, from writing intensive courses that address business correspondence to the development of specialized certificates that students can tack on to their diplomas to show they have workplace skills. While there is pressure on colleges and universities to do a better job of readying students for the workplace and job placement, there is a fine line between a college education and vocational preparation. If the results of a new survey of business leaders is an indicator, then higher education if failing quite spectacularly at preparing students for the workplace. Read more…

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Left Behind by the EdTech Surge | From The Bell Tower by Steven Bell

By on February 19, 2014 Leave a Comment

steven bell newswire Left Behind by the EdTech Surge | From The Bell TowerThere’s loads of activity happening in the world of educational technology. New startups. Dozens of websites for managing learning activities. Apps by the dozens. Academic librarians seem out of the loop.

A few months ago I subscribed to the weekly email newsletter from an organization called EdSurge. It’s subtitled “a weekly newsletter for innovators in education.” Depending on you how you feel about the phrase “innovators in education,” you may be thinking that’s exactly who you are—or maybe you’ve had your fill of innovation talk. While EdSurge does dedicate about half of each issue to the K-12 startup scene, there’s also reporting on the latest educational technology resources and utilities. Some of these are startup websites that may or may not be here for long. What it reveals is a veritable flood of new educational technologies. It leads me to question if academic librarian educators are managing to keep up with all these new resources. Are we taking time to investigate and explore these new tools or are we falling back on our old familiar standbys? Based on some time I spent listening to an instructional technology discussion at ALA Midwinter, I think it might be the latter rather than the former.

Some Old Wine

Admittedly, some of these new instructional technologies are simply variants, or even outright replications, of existing educational technologies. Coggle, for example, is hardly the first web-based mind-mapping tool, but it claims to add new collaborative sharing capabilities.  Some replication is expected, because it’s well known in the startup world that the trick is not always being first to the market but being the product in the marketplace that catches on with users (think MySpace and Facebook). However, that strategy is no surefire path to success. Right now a slew of imitators are trying to move into Snapchat’s space, but so far the original is still number one with the user community. Still, while discovering some truly original utilities takes a bit of work, checking out newcomers to an old space may lead to a great new find with better options or performance (think screencasting utilities).

Read more…

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A Bridge Across the Divide: The Role of Libraries in the Digital Skills Gap

by Bobbi Newman, Speaker / Writer at Librarian by Day on Oct 30, 2013

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