Margaret Mead, a famous American cultural anthropologist, once said: “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” This quote is incredibly accurate in how our children should be taught in the age of technology. When we look at how our children learn, they are often presented a mass amount of information and are expected to memorize it—at least until their next exam.
Today, as technology evolves in schools, we now have digital flash cards and digital worksheets that support students with easier learning tools. Students are using technology as a significant tool for learning because, well, technology is everywhere. Nearly all future jobs are going to involve technology, so I think preparing our students for this tech-driven world is the most effective way to give our future its best shot. The Skills for Innovation (SFI) framework and its professional development suite aim to do exactly this: enable students to become the next generation of innovators by involving educators in tech-centered professional development courses and by thoughtfully maximizing the use of technology in education.
Finding the right device per age and grade
To successfully incorporate the Skills for Innovation framework in schools—along with the fundamental professional development suite—students need the right device per their age and grade.
I have stated this before; students need to have a well-powered device that fits their specific needs depending on their age and grade level. This is a step beyond the 1:1 method—which ideally puts devices in the hands of every student—because it also depends on the type of device we provide them. Giving a device that best suits a second grader will not fulfill the needs of an eighth grader or eleventh grader.
In high school, students will require the most amount of performance from their devices so they can engage in data-intensive activities like AI simulation, esports, and coding. In middle school, students will need a device that can run program applications for things like digital content creation or introduction to programming. In elementary school, student devices will only need enough performance power for web apps, videoconferencing, and other multitasking activities. This image best explains what type of Intel processors can best fit students per age and grade.
Why we need Skills for Innovation
The objective of SFI is not about teaching students what to think, but how to think, through lessons in specialized skillsets and mindsets as well as with the device that fits best for them. SFI skillsets are about a students’ ability to apply the curriculum concepts they learn in order to carry out a task that solves a specific, real-world problem. SFI mindsets are about how students approach the world around them, the social-emotional skills they use, and how they solve the problems they face.
From these skillsets and mindsets, students learn not just about technology itself, but how they can use it in all their classes, from social sciences and literature to biology and economics. Then, once those students graduate and enter the workforce, they will be able to apply their tech-centered skillsets and mindsets to whatever profession they choose to pursue in the world. This is particularly important because the Fourth Industrial Revolution is going to have the most technologically advanced global workforce we will ever see.
When people think about this “tech-driven workforce,” they usually think of STEM-related jobs: engineers, scientists, IT specialists, etc. However, this is a semi-narrow way of thinking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While STEM will still be a major factor, we are talking about the entire workforce, where almost all jobs will very likely involve some form of advanced technology.
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a lawyer could use simulation technology to defend a client in court; a nurse could benefit from AI to automate the distribution of medication for hospital patients; an accountant could analyze data to keep up with bookkeeping; a farmer could use temperature and moisture sensors to determine when to water a section of crops. These are all everyday examples where people will use technology for their work and by taking advantage of the SFI framework, educators can best prepare their students for this diverse, technological economy.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report of 2020, these are the top ten skills that were identified as being in high demand in the United States:
Eight out of ten of these skills are known as “soft skills,” essentially meaning that they are more about a person’s ability to problem-solve, get along with others, and manage tasks. This tells us that teaching students skillsets and mindsets—like in the SFI framework—is going to make more of an impact for their futures rather than making them memorize arbitrary facts they may not use again.
Why we need professional development
While teachers should have a strong understanding of this subject, we cannot expect them to know all that there is to know about technology. Besides, technology is adapting, shifting, and changing every day, and teachers already have so much on their plate. The SFI professional development suite is designed to transition educators from being a “teacher” to a “facilitator of learning,” where students can use their lessons to master technology even beyond a teachers’ understanding.
The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that teachers cannot be left in the dark when it comes to using technology in the classroom—technically in the virtual classroom. Teachers need to be given the tools to be flexible and professional development from the SFI framework can be that exact tool. In a way, it is like “future-proofing” our educational system.
The SFI professional development suite has more than eighty hours of e-learning and in-person workshops, keeping educators up to date with technological trends that will impact students’ futures. There are four levels that enable educators to become mentors of innovation, and once they have completed these courses and levels, they will be awarded with a certification.
- Level 1: Adapter—Support educators who are new to technology in building a strong foundation for basic digital fluency through a mix of face-to-face and supervised, online modules.
- Level 2: Owner—Help educators transition from being content experts to becoming effective owners and leaders of learning experiences in anywhere learning scenarios.
- Level 3: Catalyst—Enable educators to reimagine learning experiences with technology to empower students to become confident innovators.
- Level 4: Mentor—Introduce educators to the upgraded mindsets that are essential for the students to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and successfully navigate the unknowns of tomorrow.
Bringing it all together: the right device + SFI + professional development
Going back to Margaret Mead’s quote, if we want to foster a thriving future for our children, I think we have to teach them how to think rather than what to think. Teaching them important skillsets and mindsets are going to have a much more lasting impact because it is teaching them how they can problem-solve, manage tasks, adapt in stressful situations, think creatively, and collaborate with others. And by teaching these skillsets and mindsets with technology, students can apply their knowledge to any career they choose.
Intel’s purpose is to enrich the lives of every person on Earth. And I believe that with the right Intel-powered device, the Intel® SFI framework, and professional development suite, we can do exactly this: unite, educate, and prepare the next generation of innovators for the tech-driven future that is right around the corner. And we know that we can’t do this alone—it’s up to teachers and education decision-makers to become facilitators of modern learning experiences by utilizing the SFI and professional development suite.
Interested in signing up for the Intel® SFI framework and professional development suite? Check out more information at skillsforinnovation.intel.com if you’re looking to facilitate future skill-building for the next generation.
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