Whether we like it or not, the fourth industrial revolution is fundamentally changing the way the world works–and educators have to rise to the task of preparing students for 2030 and beyond.

“We don’t have as much time as I thought we did to redesign education and prepare our students for the future,” said Dr. David Gundlach, the deputy superintendent of Wisconsin’s Oshkosh Area School District (OASD), during CoSN 2019. “It’s very common for districts to create based on their past instead of students’ future.”

While many people believe the world still in the third industrial revolution, which consisted of digital evolutions and modernizations,  the fourth industrial revolution has already started: robotization, nanotech, and artificial intelligence (AI), Gundlach said.

Read more: How to prepare students for the unknowable

And when it comes to preparing students for 2030, AI and its quickly-evolving state should be topmost in educators’ minds.

“The interesting thing about this is that the speed of these breakthroughs has no historical precedent. This is going to disrupt all sectors at one time at an increasingly rapid pace. AI is everywhere. China is redesigning its entire education system, aiming kids toward careers in AI,” Gundlach said.

Learn how one district is preparing its students for 2030 with coding, robotics, and AI

By 2020, the top 10 skills needed for academic and professional success will have changed, with complex problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity taking top spots. And a new skill will appear on must-have lists, as predicted by the World Economic Forum’s Future Jobs Report: cognitive flexibility.

Cognitive flexibility will require people to forget the old way of doing things and learn new–and evolving–approaches.

“We need students and adults who can learn, unlearn, and relearn at an increasing pace. That cognitive flexibility has been taken out of curriculum, and we’re trying to put it back in,” Gundlach said. “Are we preparing our students for a career that will exist in 2030, or not?”

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura