The world is entering the fourth industrial era rapidly these days. The fourth industrial revolution basically means the change in the industrial environment that builds up automation and connectivity based on artificial intelligence (AI). Accordingly, the automatic operation system is introduced in the railway industry, and the robot doctors are replacing the roles of human doctors in the medical world. Various changes are not just occurring in certain industries mentioned above but in so many different fields. In the era of this changing fourth industrial revolution, several questions would come to pre-service teachers’ mind. Is the educational sector keeping pace with the change of era? Then, what is going on in the educational field?
Trends in education are also changing to fit the fourth industrial revolution. Advances in the development of technology, smartphones, smart cars, computers, and robots have changed the direction of education in the world. In other words, new forms of educational training are emerging based on Information & Communication Technology (ICT). Accordingly, the world is setting a new educational goal, aiming at strengthening students’ ability to utilize information effectively. Following educational trends are representative examples of this change.
What Only Humans Can Do, Convergence Education
Already, AI has developed beyond human brains. The type of education that just accumulates knowledge can no longer nurture competitive students. Meanwhile, there is something only human can do instead of AI. It is the ability to converge, interrelate and connect, using creative thinking. Accordingly, experts cite ‘creativity and convergence education’ as the most important keyword of the education in the fourth industrial era. One of the greatest changes in the educational field for creativity education is industrial-academic cooperation, which means active interaction between industries and schools. Along with the fourth industrial revolution, a lot of industries are offering various convergence programs to the students. In those programs, students stack knowledge of many different studies, and students with diverse majors can interact with each other and create a synergy, making convergence effect. In fact, this kind of dynamic mobility of outstanding individuals between universities and industries leads to the changes. Moreover, educations which build a systematic education infrastructure are emerging. It has led to the advent of industrial-academic cooperative education programs, internship courses, and the system that brings adjunct professors from industries to school. Those types of education help students to have various experiences in the real process of manufacturing goods.
Imagination to Creation, Maker Education
At the same time, a new educational paradigm is emerging, which encourages students to create real products using their imagination. It is called Maker Education. It is a comprehensive educational trend that covers multidisciplinary learning, such as computer and programming language. Maker Education facilitates students’ discovery and makes students create new things or think creatively because it lets students make products by themselves or deal with electronic devices using the software. The basic spirits that Maker education addresses are initiative, participation, spontaneity, and problem-solving. On top of this, the spread of teaching aids related to fourth industrial revolution such as improved computers, electronic devices, and instructional 3D printers have been accelerated. The typical example is the Make Light initiative in Germany, which is conducted by the Federal Education and Research Institute. The Commission provided opportunities for displaying related information or achievements by conducting a workshop which aimed at creating a ‘cross-medical identity’, for those who aged 8 to 14 years old.
As these large and small educational changes occur, there are people who raise their expectations, while some show anxiety. One expectation is that learning can occur anytime and anywhere in the fourth industrial revolution ages. ICT based skills can be a good catalyst that can break up the idea that learning only occurs in schools. At the same time, some anticipate that there will be the customized education for the students, regarding their own pace, aptitude, and personality. Considering educational aim, the most meaningful point is that it focuses on teaching the problem-solving process rather than teaching the answers.
Meanwhile, some people worry about those educational changes. They say reckless utilization of the latest technology with no regard for the purpose or character of lessons may result in poor learning efficiency. It is likely that the root cause of the educational problem can be neglected, and it is likely to be followed by a new or seemingly deceptive process. Another point is the worries about the commercialization of education since advances in technology are already leading several companies to earn money through ICT education. The most realistic problem is that it costs a lot of money for the schools to be equipped with 3D printers and scientific lab equipment. Considering the problem, experts say that the purpose of applying the technology to learning should not be forgotten and people should alert the commercialization of education. They also mentioned that it is important to make an educational environment where income gap does not have a significant impact on learning science and technology.
In the fourth industrial era, rote memorization cannot be effective as before. Continuing suggestions of new educational trends and paradigms are also following this new needs and stream of the times. Along with this changing era, the needs for creativity and thinking skills are increasingly getting important, instead of technologies which can be easily replaced by robots or artificial intelligence. Lee Tae-eok, a professor of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) said, “It is said that the ability to solve the problem is important, but first, we need to raise the ability to define problems. The key to the future education is self-directed learning, leading, participating, and interacting with each other.”
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