How the education system can take advantage of technology [Amplify Friday]
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“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela.
It is estimated that 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could be vacant by the end of this decade. According to a 2021 report from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, companies are struggling to find skilled workers.
Training and education are key to closing the skills gap.
We’ll dive into some of the issues facing the education system and how technology can help, but first let’s look at some positive stories in education.
Inaugural Engineering Innovation Celebration winner inspires students
Former marine electrician and retiree Richard Williams recently won the Advanced Product Development Resource Center (APDRC) Celebrating Engineering Innovation competition.
Corporal Willy, as he is known, is a SolidWorks Certified Instructor with a passion for volunteering his teaching time – teaching youngsters how to put bridges together and making moves through gear trains – and motivating them thanks to its Tech Talks.
Williams joined the US Marine Corp at age 17. He told Thomas Insights: “When I was honorably discharged in one piece, I wanted to help our family build America.”
“Our whole family of men worked in the construction industry in different trades, and we have a long and glorious history of building the New York skyline you see today,” Williams said. “Even my mom had a great career in electronics assembly making circuit boards before machines could make them. She was so good that NASA and the Grumman Aircraft Corporation on Long Island asked her to work along with a small crew of other women to fabricate the circuit boards that would be installed in the Landing Excursion Module that took our astronauts to the moon and back.”
Unfortunately, his own construction career was cut short due to a leg injury caused by another contractor on the job, resulting in three operations and 15 months of physiotherapy. Williams took advantage of his enforced retirement to learn how to use a CAD program, allowing him to digitize his ideas.
Now he volunteers his time in elementary schools and colleges. “I wanted to help young people see what they could achieve on their own in the many technical careers,” Williams said. “I am still serving my country as I was taught very early in life as a Marine.”
Vermont classrooms have access to augmented virtual reality
Imagine learning about Roman history through a virtual reality experience that lets you explore the Colosseum almost as if you were there in person. This is what more and more students are able to do, thanks to emerging technology.
Consolidated Communications’ Consolidated Connects Educational Grants Program recently awarded a $4,500 grant to the Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) in Vermont, which will provide augmented and virtual reality opportunities for educators and students.
“We are grateful to Consolidated for their generosity in giving our children a chance to gain skills and experience in technology that offers so many possibilities,” said OCSU educator Charles Supernaw.
Students will have the opportunity to use virtual apps and Oculus virtual reality headsets to interact with virtual environments.
12-year-old girl going to college wants to invent medical technology
At just nine years old, Florida student Sawsan Ahmed graduated from high school. Last month, she graduated from Broward College with an associate degree. Now the 12-year-old is heading to the University of Florida to study chemistry, biology and computer programming.
She says, “Their courses in Python programming through biology really caught my interest.”
Ahmed, whose father is a doctor, explains that she can save lives if she invents medical technology.
Amplify the education system
To find the next generation of workers, STEM education should be introduced to students early. Having access to a variety of digital tools and emerging technologies throughout one’s education can encourage learning and advance understanding and skills, whatever career path one decides to follow. The ongoing pandemic continues to present obstacles, but technology can provide solutions for remote learning, inspire students in new ways, and provide ongoing training for workers.
Challenges related to COVID-19 within the school system
The education system faces several challenges:
COVID-19 testing has become a burden on the school system reports EducationWeek: “Determining what tests to take, how often they should be administered, where to send them for accurate results, how to pay for them, how to convince people to use them and what policies to adopt around them – all of these tasks go beyond the typical day-to-day mission of a school system and its employees.
Educators deal with how to educate students who have difficulty accessing and using technology, as well as sitting in front of a computer all day. On the other hand, they often have to contend with students addicted to their smartphones.
Loss of caregivers
Children have lost caregivers. In some cases, teachers struggling to find the best way to support their students have launched fundraisers to help students who have lost their parents to COVID-19.
Not enough teachers
Classrooms have become too large, which has been exacerbated by staff shortages. Teachers suffering from burnout and anxiety are leaving the industry amid the big resignation.
Also, there are not enough substitutes to cover teachers who fall ill from COVID-19.
Use of technology in education
Equitable access to cutting-edge technology can help students of all ages and experience levels better understand subjects, learn new skills, and feel more comfortable in the learning process.
Virtual reality creates safe conditions for learning: “When you use virtual reality to place your students in an authentically challenging yet safe situation that raises ethical and values-driven questions, you enable students to better understand their own reactions, learn from their mistakes, and develop a much deeper sense of empathy, creating a more impactful learning opportunity,” says Ithai Stern, Academic Director of Insead’s Immersive Learning Initiative.
STEM should be prioritized in public education: Wallingford Public School District Superintendent Dr. Sal Menzo spoke with Tony Uphoff about getting community buy-in for STEM initiatives in this episode of the Thomas Industry Update podcast.
Companies can partner with high schools: One of the world’s largest automakers helps fund a manufacturing academy at a Detroit high school. Investments like this benefit students and manufacturing companies.
Access to digital tools can help bridge the skills gap: “If you fail to provide this ‘Youtube generation’ with an impactful training experience, you are likely to see massive attrition of new hires,” this Thomas Insights contributor warns.
Image credit: Thomas