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  • lisa phelan

The Digital Revolution

In today’s news a backlash from parents, about their children’s education being increasingly shifted onto a screen, is gathering momentum, since evidence is mounting that devices can increase computer skills but not necessarily literacy and numeracy skills.

Many schools are now requiring primary students, some as young as five, to purchase an ipad to use in the classroom as a learning tool. However mums and dads are increasingly sceptical about the devices’ abilities to boost grades and cite them as a distraction and a contributor to an excessive use of screen time. Principals of two prestigious Sydney schools recently announced they were moving away from laptop use in class, claiming computers have been ‘oversold’.

So for future students, the educational dilemma is how much computer technology is too much? Is there such a thing as too much? Should traditional teaching methods remain the focus despite a growing digital revolution in business, media, services and resources where people of all demographics will be required to be computer competent?

Former head of the ABC, Mark Scott, recently spoke about the future of Australia’s news and current affairs, calling it the new news, a digital revolution where news will be accessible 24 hours a day on every device, from an ipad to a watch. Consumers will decide where, when and how they will get their information about the world using websites, apps and live streaming. They will expect to be able to connect with the world instantly and choose which channels they will read and watch. Waiting for information and being at the mercy of broadcasters’ scheduling will become a thing of the past.

Heads of Australia’s leading teaching institutions have also weighed in on the digital revolution saying it will change the way students learn and connect with their university. Students will be able to get their digital information from a wide variety of sources, not just from their lecturer or tutor. Streamed video, virtual tools and millions of online resources will be available with a single swipe. Information will be able to be shared across all platforms, with students collaborating live with peers around the world, manipulating virtual objects right in front of them. Augmented reality eye wear will provide immersive experiences, along with digital textbooks, and biometric technology will enhance teachers’ understanding of individual student needs.

Paper based printing has experienced a mammoth recession, with newspapers predicted to become extinct within 10 years. Just as journalism has had to adapt to a new electronic delivery system, printing has also morphed with the introduction of a 3D mapping system that will revolutionise the manufacturing of products. 3D printing technology has already developed quickly, with personal 3D printers now available for the home at a size and price that is palatable. The technology will eventually see the end of products as we know them and the end of product stores, since the creation of products will shift into the hands of the consumer. Templates will provide consumers with a choice of product, which can be customised to needs and requirements. Consumers can also be involved in the creation of templates, designing and creating new products. Templates for millions of products will become the new world currency, with pirated templates surfacing and entering the black market, just as DVD’s did.

With a world careering headlong into a digital revolution, tracking across all platforms, computer technology will be the most important asset for a young employee entering the new global market. Knowledge, expertise and familiarity with technology will underpin every job requirement. Not only will it permeate the workplace but the way in which we interact with each other, the world and its services. I don’t think we can underestimate the significance of this new digital revolution for our children. Understanding the new technology and how it can be adapted will dominate every future student’s curriculum.

Mums and dads will continue to champion the computer/outdoor balance for their kids by battling with their screen time, but the technology their kids are using will form the foundation for their careers and the way they live their life in a future world. Bring on the digital revolution and keep technology engaging students to learn and gain skills in the classroom. Marry it with traditional teaching, collaborative learning and the mentoring of life skills so kids can be fully prepared for a complex digital future.

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