"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Is technology the silver bullet to getting a job?

Since the federal budget was announced last week there has been speculation and overall outrage by many
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students about the high cost of education in Australia. I have been reminding myself this week that I do live in the lucky country. We do enjoy a high standard of living for most Australians and this by in large is because we live in a safe country. It must be terrible for teachers and students who live in country's where you they sure there will be a bomb explosion somewhere near them and they hope it's not on their house, bus, school or shopping centre. Learning and working under this kind of stress must be awful and frightening.

I agree that education needs to be affordable but there is a part of me that is so grateful that we value education so highly that we need to pay well for it and that all can access it. There will be some that argue that this is a middle class mindset yet I know I had to work three jobs in order to get myself through uni all those years ago. Nothing changes. Having to pay back student loans has been around for a long time now and this is not going to change. My parents are farmers. My father came to this country from a Japanese prisoner of war camp after World War II with nothing. Through sheer hard work he managed to forge a life himself and his family. He worked several jobs to save for a deposit for a farm. He worked the land and loved it and still does. We were not plonked into middle class Australia like some but through sheer blood and sweat worked solidly for many years, like many migrant families to build a better life for ourselves. When I left home in my second year of uni I had nothing. I was not handed a silver spoon and had to work hard to pay my bills, educate myself and gain employment. However I realise that times are changing and there are those who are not fortunate enough to have the same opportunities I was afforded. Notably unconditional love and support of my family.

With the changing social fabric of our society the educational demands of this current generation will not be getting easier any time soon. The previous generations (baby boomers and generation x) are the employers and they are demanding higher qualifications for jobs. Experience too is required to get a reasonably paying job. With such great demands on generation y it is no wonder they are frustrated about finding employment when many of them live in areas such as the Central Coast in NSW where unemployment of this highly educated generation sits at 24%.

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So is there a silver lining in all of this? Well I am no fortune teller but I see that there will be a greater influx of students who will head towards MOOCs for their qualifications. For many students they have grown up with access to an online world. Education and training that is provided through the online space will undoubtedly grow rapidly in the coming years.  Zac Sims, founder of Code Academy suggests that they live in a 'tech-saturated culture' so they will certainly welcome this change. Institutions like Coursera will continue to grow and allow free access to higher education free. The university of Queensland is also getting on board with idea through UQx and it will not be long before it becomes the norm. Already most universities are offering courses online or at the very least are using technology to support face to face learning.

It will be a challenge for some educators to embrace this change. Debbie Morrison notes that in Columbia University's research on future forecast in learning educators have not yet fully embraced it as a learning
medium.  Future directions for the university in terms of online delivery as seen in the above table. This shows the institute values online learning but those who will actually deliver it are still to embrace and come on board fully. The cost of online learning in regard to preparation and delivery are set to sore yet if both universities and institutions for adult education and training don't come on board they will be missing out on a large portion of their revenue to a cohort that is demanding learning that is flexible and accessible online.

Quality education is what matters in my classroom. Evaluating and reflecting on teaching and education is why I blog. I need to take time to think about how and why I use technology and whether or not I will be part of this great new change in education that is happening. It is clearly a revolution in learning and one which I do hope to be part of. I am excited by this new medium and I know that quality education can still be delivered using this platform.

I do hope the next generation don't give up on education because of the high price they will pay for it. I do hope that there can be greater opportunities for them through the online world to get a great education and also a great job.

Until next week,

p.s. This week I tried using Poll Everywhere to gauge a response from students. Fast and effective. Will use again!

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