Redefining what it means to be educated

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Deloitte’s Centre of the Edge

Redefining what it means to be ‘educated’

11 May 2015: Digital technology has changed how society relates to knowledge. Deloitte’s Australian Centre for the Edge has investigated how this change in our relationship with knowledge might affect the education sector. Its White Paper, Redefining Education, released today, explores the future of the education sector and what it means to be ‘educated’.

The Centre for the Edge’s Pete Williams said the changes digital technology is driving might redefine how we view education.
“Basically we are finding that the focus on what people know is being replaced by an emphasis on their ability to find and share new knowledge and ideas,” said Mr Williams. “At the same time, the relentless rise of digital technology means that traditional means of acquiring an education are being disrupted.”

The White Paper identifies two emerging trends that highlight why the sector might be about to go through a change in paradigm.

First is the shift from a traditional, formal education, to work-integrated learning. Historically learning has been concentrated in the years of formal education, before someone’s career begins. Learning is now something undertaken periodically, at the start of each new phase of a person’s career. The emerging trend is for learning to be continuous and embedded within our professional environment.

“Individuals are now constantly on the lookout for interesting and useful knowledge, knowledge they will ‘pull in’ to fill a gap in their current knowledge base,” said Mr Williams.

The second is an emerging trend for employers to move away from using formal credentials as the gold standard against which all candidate employees are measured. The suitability of a job applicant is increasingly being judged in terms of their observable attitude and behaviours, their broad experience and track record of integrating new knowledge and skills into their work.

“Organisations are shifting recruitment practices to focus on identifying ‘smart creatives’ – smart and capable generalists who demonstrate the attitudes and behaviours that will enable them to be effective learners and team players, with formal credentials playing only a minor role,” said Mr Williams.

Colette Rogers, Deloitte’s National Education Lead, suggests the questions confronting the education sector are not just those of pedagogy or technology, but of purpose and role. “There seems to be a fundamental shift occurring in how we use and think about knowledge and skills; knowledge is becoming something we pull in as required, rather than being pushed out by an institution via instruction,” said Ms Rogers. “If this fundamental shift turns out to be real, then it will usher in a new paradigm and transform the education sector. The shift will redefine the role of educators and how they relate to students and employers.”

“The implications for educational institutions are profound. While formal credentials will remain critical in fields such as medicine and engineering, a host of other sectors, such as information technology, will experience a greater concentration of informal and work-integrated learning,” said Ms Rogers. “The old education system, the one that has sufficed for centuries, may no longer be seen as sufficient in this changed environment.”

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About the Australian Centre for the Edge

The Australian Centre for the Edge is an applied “think-tank” supported by Deloitte; it is part of a larger Centre for the Edge network within Deloitte, anchored in Silicon Valley. The Centre for the Edge is predicated on the assumption that every team needs an explorer – a group or individual tasked with exploring the edges of what is known and understood, finding the interesting ideas and mapping the landscape, and then bringing this new knowledge back to the broader team. The goal is to be speculative and deliberately thought-provoking, but to also be grounded in data and observation.

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