Your company, getAbstract, has offered concise summaries of relevant non-fiction literature for quite some time now. You were one of the first to understand the importance of condensed knowledge and how it can create a profound culture of learning, be it for corporations or institutions of Higher Education.
What type of skills or knowledge should primary schools teach to Gen-Alpha kids now, in order for them to understand, navigate and further transform an ever growing “world of snippets” more easily in a few years time? What do today’s kids need to learn to be able to fully use the value proposition of your service in the future?
First of all we need to make sure that every child knows how to read and write. There are still many children on this planet who don’t have the skills of knowing the alphabet. In the western world, this seems to be obvious as the majority of children do know how to spell, read and write. However, the question is, is it just a skill they have learned in school, or do they actually know how to really apply it as well?
Compared to twenty years ago, where all the knowledge intake was almost exclusively through written material, today the Internet offers to use other senses as well to accommodate knowledge.
We listen to Audio files and podcasts, and we look at video content that allows to visually and audibly consume important knowledge.
One of the most important things that we need to teach our children is to nurture their curiosity to actually learn and grow their minds. As we all know, the majority of content on the Internet, probably more than 99%, is not relevant knowledge. It’s just for amusement purposes, news, and designed to maximize clickthrough rates from the respective providers. I think it’s very important that we can teach our children to develop the intellectual capacity to distinguish between what is good for them, what is relevant, what is not relevant and what is actually bad for them as well.
Twenty years ago, whatever you were reading, you could assume that it would help you in your decision making. Today, it’s the opposite: most of the content is designed to manipulate the decision-making of people and we need to teach our children to be vigilant, to be alert and to be able to form their own opinion by reflecting, comparing and thinking.
In order to use getAbstract, you don’t need any special skills that you need to learn as a child. getAbstract will help you in finding the relevant knowledge to make better decisions.
On one side the world is further connected, on the other we are socially more and more distant. Digitalization often entails individualization, because even as a group of several people online, we somehow remain alone in front of our single screens (Laugero, 2021). The effect of more hours spent on screens means that we are spending less time practicing our human skills in person with others, decoding facial expressions, body language, nonverbal cues, and tone. As a result, advancing technology is doing much more than changing the nature of work, it’s also changing us (Weise, 2021). We all agree that human+ skills are the most important ones in today’s and especially future markets.
How can an academic institution make sure these skills are sincerely developed, profoundly fostered and transmitted without biases? Especially so, to a generation that is, for the first time in history, spending more social-time online, rather than offline.
I totally agree that social human skills, decoding facial expressions, body language, etc. are important skills that are more easily practiced offline and online. I don’t entirely agree that with social interaction we are more distant from one another: I have experienced myself that I have quicker and easier contact to people who are remote from me, thousands of kilometers away, by using online collaboration tools.
Academic institutions have to make sure that emotional skills, empathy, and social skills have a place in the curriculum for the student.
Academic institutions probably need to find a good balance between classroom based teaching, and integrate also independent types of learning, such as giving presentations to develop ones self- confidence and vocal skills, as well as collaborative projects etc. This can be done offline but just as well online.
Also, teachers have to make sure to use the digital tools that are available and integrate them into their teaching material. It also means continuous education and learning for teachers to stay on top of the technology.
The current system of higher education was established more or less hundred years ago. It has been constructed for a linear career of forty years in a secure job, preceded by studies and a degree. We are convinced that this system is not corresponding to the current and future needs anymore. At THB, we are trying to further intertwine academia with vocational or professional training, focusing on the needed hybrid skills and agile education. We wish for this collaborative “smart education” to be implemented in shorter learn-earn-cycles and to serve for real “lifelong learning”.
As a training partner of Fortune 500 companies, how do you see this development? How can academic institutions assure attractive education for these companies’ highly fluctuating needs, while working within a slow system of accreditation, most often linked to criteria and values of an old world?
I think THB’s vision is totally to the point whereby hybrid skills, agile education and shorter learn cycles combined with lifelong learning are absolutely mandatory in today’s world to continue anyone’s personal growth.
50 years ago, Peter Drucker coined the term of the knowledge worker and today we know that this is no longer true.
We need the learning worker.
Websites such as Coursera and others offer anyone, and in particular academic institutions with a renowned brand, the possibility to provide courses, short or long, where you can reach 10 or even 100 times more people than you could primarily within the academic offline premises.
I personally believe that knowledge should be delivered in short cycles. In our company, we guarantee that any piece of relevant knowledge can be consumed within 15 minutes or less.
What does “Smart Education” mean to you? How would you define it?
Smart education is education where you teach the student to be curious to learn themselves, to get inspired and to be motivated by learning and developing themselves.
In the classic example of the fisherman: you don’t want to catch the fish for your student. You don’t even want to teach the student how to fish – you want to get the student interested in learning how to fish and then teach them how to acquire the necessary skills to learn just that.
Please name your current favourite book?
Mindset by Carol Dweck.
In her book, she emphasizes the importance of having a learning mindset, and seeing the value of someone giving their best rather than valuing the outcome.
The questions were exchanged via a google doc in July 2021.