What is the future of the teaching profession?

What is the future of the teaching profession?

The future of the teaching profession is very exciting. And technology will be the key to unlocking that future. Click To Tweet

Jack Ma, China’s richest man and the Co-founder of the retail behemoth Alibaba, is officially stepping down as company chairman today!

Alibaba has over 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of $420 billion, according to Business Today. 

In his speech at Viva Tech conference in Paris on May 16, 2019, Ma announced he would be going back to teaching on retiring. 

To me, this is a very wise choice. Education is one of the things that will never excise from society. And, as intelligent technologies and robots continue to reshape our world, the ability to impart knowledge, attitude, and skills at the same time to learners has become of prime importance. 

All over the world, there’s been a never-ending debate on the future of the teaching profession: Will technology replace teachers? What would the teaching profession look like in the future and how do you develop teachers for the iGeneration?

In this article, I attempt to answer these questions in simple terms. Here’s what I think:

Technology will empower educators, not replace them

The impact of technological transformation is abundantly felt in every aspect of our society. Just as work is no longer tied to the office, learning is no longer beholden to the classroom. 

Open-source materials and e-learning tools are driving the cost of learning to zero and creating a global classroom. Also, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is breaking the barriers of time and space.

Experts say that a third of all students now take at least one online course.

The interesting thing is, the value of information keeps going up while the shelf life of information keeps going down. In other words, we’re in an era of information overload. For example, a simple search of education on Google yields about 10,090,000,000 results in 0.66 seconds. Hence, learning how to learn has become incredibly vital. 

Technology can surpass a teacher’s expertise in content delivery but cannot match the human-centered aspects of teaching. Click To Tweet

Instead of being a substitute, technology will empower teachers to compress concepts that could take four years of college education to learn into weeks. Not only that, educators will be able to better tailor their services to each student’s needs, thereby enhancing students’ motivation, democratizing education, and fostering learning.

According to the Christensen Institute, “as artificial intelligence and other technologies transform various professions, the most valued and secure jobs will be those that require complex social skills—such as teaching.”

A report from the McKinsey Global Institute further highlights a fork in the curve and probably the “new basic” skills for the future of work: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving. The more intelligent technologies continue to redefine our workplace, the more human cognitive skills are needed.

Educators of the future will be entrepreneurs

The last year 2018, Drake’s latest album, “Scorpion,” debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and had one of the biggest weeks ever for a hip-hop album. Among other feats, it became the first album to reach 1 billion streams across all platforms worldwide – grossing over $1M in 24 hours, according to Rolling Stone.

In an August 27 Business Insider article, Noah Friedman and Jordan Bowman analyzed the secret behind the success of the album: 

“To listen to the entire project, you’re going to have to dedicate a lot of time. It’s Drake’s longest album. It’s 25 tracks and has a running time of one hour and 30 minutes. But Drake isn’t the only artist with a bloated album. The deluxe edition of Chris Brown’s latest was a 57-track behemoth that ran for a solid three hours and 18 minutes. To understand, you’re going to have to look at streaming services. Spotify and Apple Music have completely changed the music industry. In 2017, 54% of music consumption came from streaming platforms, and streaming generated $3.9 billion. But the Billboard charts have had a hard time trying to figure out how to count streams in an industry that was once dominated by physical album sales. In 2014, people sat around, debated, deliberated, and ultimately decided on a way to quantify streaming music: 1,500 streamed songs counted as one album sale. Previously, Billboard didn’t take streaming into account. It only counted the sales of full albums. This caused a huge shakeup in the music industry. Record labels and artists quickly realized that more tracks equal more streams and that ultimately equals more money.”

In short, this is about pattern recognition. Taking a cue from the above analogy and recent trends in the labor market, one can clearly see that educators of the future will be entrepreneurs. Historically, the majority of most teachings at the early stages of human history was didactic. Poets recited ancient myths and stories and a few listeners learned them. Individuals acquired skills by observing their elders or masters who were fishers, artisans, lawyers, and so on, and replicating what they saw. “Plato learned to teach by sitting at the feet of Socrates. Aristotle, in turn, learned from Plato.” The Igbo apprenticeship system has received a recommendation as being the best business framework in the world.

As industries converge and business owners struggle to respond to the demands of the digital economy, we are beginning to see more and more creative, unconventional teaching methods. Industry leaders now develop specialized medium to train for skills that are most valuable to them. Think of Google’s AI Centers and Facebook’s Innovation Lab.

These “teachpreneurs” are not limited by budget or bureaucracy that often hinder mainstream educators. And, they’re professionals with ability in different careers.

Moreover, since academic degrees no longer qualify as a measure of ability or discipline, my prediction is that we shall also see more teachpreneurs like Jack Ma in mainstream education in the future. Further, I predict they will be the top-earners of any occupation in the world because teaching will be the most important job there is.

Teaching the Googled learner will need a new set of skills.

These are interesting times. According to Microsoft, “the students we equip with digital skills today will work in careers we haven’t even thought of yet, and build new technology that we can’t even begin to imagine.”

There is, therefore, a need to empower educators to redesign teaching by “ensuring they can work with any combination of data sources quickly and accurately, across geographies, in a secure and real-time environment”. 

The future of the teaching profession is very exciting. And, technology is the key to unlocking that future. 


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