The world is constantly changing which means that in our work as educators, we need to continue to push ourselves to learn about the innovations happening in the world. We are in the position to help students to build skills in the right areas so that they will be ready for whatever the future brings. Beyond teaching our specific content area and bringing in a variety of content-specific learning methods and resources, we have to embrace opportunities to do more by adding in experiences that enable us all to keep up with and perhaps even get ahead of some of the changes that we are seeing in the world.
So what are the skills that students need? We’ve heard about the essential 21st-century skills for many years. Well into the 21st century, now we have to focus on the skills of transfer that promote flexibility when it comes to career opportunities. A great resource to learn more and stay informed is the job skills outlook provided by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
According to the World Economic Forum, among the top skills sought in the world of work are collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving. There are many ways to help students to develop these skills in our classrooms and which rely on simple methods like PBL or STEM-related activities. Also to be considered are the five core competencies of social-emotional learning (SEL) which are directly related to the 21st-century skills and the WEF outlook. The areas of self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship building, and decision making are vital to student success and equally as important for us as educators and adults.
Emerging Trends and Technologies
Over the past two years, we have seen a big shift to relying on technology not just for education, but also for work. Schools, businesses, and organizations have relied on technologies to keep moving forward. Schools experienced fully virtual and hybrid learning for several years and students, teachers, and families had to learn and adapt quickly. Companies relied on remote work and for many, there are jobs that are now being done fully remote, which means that our students need to know how to interact in the virtual space and how to complete tasks, use technology, communicate and more, as they prepare for the future, whether that involves college or career.
Whether or not we think that we can bring these emerging technologies into our classrooms, we all can. Because of the way that some of these technologies are being used now and are predicted to be used in the future, educators are in the best place to help students prepare. Some of the examples include things like the use of artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and blockchain. While we may be more used to and familiar with some of these, for many educators these concepts may be quite new. It takes time to build skills in these areas and understand what their impact may be in our personal and professional lives, but there are a lot of resources out there to explore and ways that we can help students to learn about them while connecting it to the content we are teaching.
We know there is an increased need for STEM related skills as it has been predicted there will be 58 million STEM related jobs available by 2025. In particular, according to the Jobs of Tomorrow report, some areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud computing, and cybersecurity will see an increased demand for skilled workers. An article from the World Economic Forum referred to a “reckoning for skills” and discussed how certain skills will be essential as 1 billion jobs will be transformed by technology over the next 10 years. Another resource that I read recently came from the "Learn to Code'' website which had a list of 18 tech skills that are in demand now and recommended that everyone should learn. Artificial intelligence was number one on the list. Following AI, was machine learning, data science, data analytics and data visualization making up the top five. Additional needs included cybersecurity and STEM related fields. Because of this growing need and lack of qualified people to fill those positions as of today, we need to do more to prepare our students not just for these potential careers but others that will continue to be created as technology evolves and transforms how we live, learn, and work. How can we start today?
There are many options available for educators to choose from, some which are free and some that come at a cost, but either way, many do not require a lot of time to get started. Here are seven options, some of which are organizations that offer individual lessons or an entire K through 12 curriculum which provides educators with the resources and support they need to get started in some of these “in-demand” areas.
AIClub offers resources for students ages 8 and up to learn about artificial intelligence and AI related topics. There are free activities available for students to interact with AI and develop their own understanding of what AI is. AIClub also has lessons and sample projects created by students to explore.
ASU Crash Course Data Literacy offers a 15 video series for educators and students to learn about data literacy, an important topic for students to understand with so much data in our everyday lives. Using a course like this helps to promote student independence in learning by providing them with the opportunity to decide their pace and path as they work through the concepts related to data literacy.
Google AI Experiments offers a lot of interesting experiments based on AI and machine learning that students can interact with. Students also can create their own experiments and submit them to Google for possible inclusion on the site. There are also experiments to learn more about augmented and virtual reality and some based on areas like art, music, and more.
ISTE’s AI and STEM Explorations Network has four free hands-on AI project guides for the classroom which are available for download from ISTE and GM. I helped to design a lesson on the use of AI via translators in language classrooms. The guides are available in English, Spanish, and Arabic. Included in their guides are lessons for electives which brings in options for courses in STEM and Language classes.
Khan Academy offers online courses on a variety of topics related to STEM, coding, data science, and more. The courses include practice activities and videos and have materials for use with younger students through high school and college.
Microsoft AI for Good offers many resources for educators or anybody to look at how artificial intelligence is being used and to also better prepare teachers. Microsoft also has Hacking STEM which provides many additional resources for teaching about STEM in any classroom.
Nearpod: An interactive multimedia learning platform that provides a quick way for educators to get started with lessons focused on artificial intelligence, coding, cryptocurrency, STEM topics, understanding computers and more. There are thousands of lessons to download that can include 3D objects for students to explore and VR field trips powered by 360 cities.
While we have many methods and digital tools or even virtual spaces to explore, we must remember to always focus on the “why” behind the choices we make. There are great benefits to the use of digital tools to enable us to connect with one another, access new learning experiences, to keep learning and the world of work going. When we can choose and leverage the right methods and digital tools, we foster collaboration, communication, and creativity which are some of the essential skills our students need now and in the future.
When students have opportunities to engage in more student-driven, hands-on learning, it makes their experiences more authentic and meaningful. We help to move them from consumers to creators and empower them to lead the way when it comes to learning about these emerging technologies. Through these opportunities, students will be better equipped to develop the skills that will enable them to adapt to a changing landscape of work and life.
About the Author
Rachelle Dené Poth is a Foreign Language and STEAM Educator at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney, Edtech Consultant, Speaker and Instructional Technology Coach. Rachelle is the Author of seven books about education and edtech and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Rdene915.
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