The Education System Fails
Everyone who is or who has ever been enrolled in degree programs knows that to pass an exam in a university you need to memorize facts. Every time exams are almost there students begin working through 300 ridiculous slides.
The student who remembers most of these facts written on these 300 slides will get the best grade. They are doing so just to earn a degree society tells them they need.
From Information Scarcity to Information Abundance
Just a few years ago it was very tough to find much-needed information and facts. If you wanted to know the answer to a question you had to take some time to go to the local library. Sometimes the small library didn’t have the needed book on the site and you needed to wait a few days because of an interlibrary loan. In some cases, you had to visit the other library out of town. You went there with the hope that the book contains the much-needed information to your question. Today’s reality is different. If you have a question or need a quick fact you simply use the Alexa device on your desk or you use your phone. Within a second the smart assistant will have the answer for you.
The Problem: Computers are the best Memorizers
Here also comes the problem with our current education system: computers are the best memorizers. Where do you go first if you don’t know the answer to a question? It’s very likely that it’s Google. Type in “12th President of the United States” and you will have the answer within less than a second. This works with nearly all facts you need or want to know. But this is only the beginning.
Our next assistants are already there. We do not need to type in questions or phrases in Google or Bing. We have the knowledge of the world in our pockets. If we have a question our new assistants are there for us. They are called Cortana, Alexa, Google, and Siri. They will answer you every question you have. The cool thing: They are becoming smarter with every day. All personal assistants like Cortana, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri are backed and powered by artificial intelligence. The more we use AI the better their results get. The more days and months pass the better these assistants become at answering our questions. With all this information and intelligence within a fingertip or “Hey Cortana” shouldn’t the education system catch up?
The Professor is not the Gateway to Knowledge
The current education system is still working with centuries-old learning methodologies. Professors are acting as if they are the gateway to knowledge. The truth is different: Every student today already has access to the world’s knowledge with their smartphone (which exceeds the knowledge of the professor a millionfold). Everyone in the world can use free AI assistants like Alexa and Cortana to get an immediate answer to even complicated questions. Instead of using passive learning formats like lectures schools and universities need to focus on enhancing creativity and practicing problem-solving. We don’t need professors or teachers anymore. Instead, we need mentors which are guiding students while they are learning on their own. The World Economic Forum is stating that in 2020 the three most important skills will be (1) complex problem solving, (2) critical thinking, and (3) creativity. The education system needs to encourage exactly these skills immediately by replacing the lecturing system with an appropriate learning model.
Learn how to Use Facts not How to remember them
We are also not yet at a point of singularity. Singularity is described as the point where computer algorithms can teach themselves and therefore become infinite intelligent. So there are still moments when Alexa or Cortana will say: “Sorry Marius I didn’t get that.” In this scenario, you still need to go to a search engine and find the information yourself.
Instead of teaching students facts and figures the education system needs to encourage them to find this knowledge on their own. What do I mean with finding knowledge? Before you can work with information from the internet you need to be able to assess if the information is coming from a reliable source. Or how to say it in today’s terms: You need to check if it’s fake news.
Corporate with the AI assistant
Artificial intelligence is making us smarter because it gives us access to information and databases we weren’t able to access before. And the task of our education system is to prepare students to use these amounts of data and information. In the future, humans will interact and corporate with artificial intelligence. This will make our jobs way more efficient and humans will be able to manage and master tasks which are today seen as impossible. Humans will assist AI systems and AI system will assist us.
Lifelong Self Learning
Today’s world is changing at a super fast pace and the education system needs to catch up with this technological development. But the truth is it does not. Students need to work pro-actively on up-skilling and retraining their current skills. By doing so they will make sure that they will benefit from the fourth industrial revolution – even without participating in the traditional education system.