Whether you are a technology enthusiast or not, it is perhaps still obvious that increasingly capable machines are changing the workplace.
One could be optimistic or fearful about these changes. But ignoring these changes is not an option. Change works your way once you participate in it, rather than let it hit you unprepared.
The aspect of change I am particularly concerned about is the emergence of the digital workplace. I am on the wrong side of the age divide - a 'digital immigrant' as Marc Prensky would call me - and my work world has changed within a lifetime. Admittedly, I was one of the early immigrants - I started my work installing email systems when one still had to explain the differences between faxes and emails - and that perhaps gives me a sense of foreboding about the changes. Having seen it once - World Wide Web appeared from nowhere and transformed the commercial email services industry I was working in - I am looking forward to even bigger, even more exciting changes now.
Now, this needs some explaining. I am not claiming that we are about to see a world-changing invention like WWW emerge in the next few months, though it indeed may. Instead, I am speaking about the collective impact of the convergence of web and many associated technologies, improvements in infrastructure and computing power and changes in business practises and work expectations forming in a perfect storm to change how we work. What I speak about is not another glorious celebration of technological innovation, but rather its everyday-ness. Nicholas Carr long ago spoke about information technology stop becoming a novelty and a source of strategic differentiation, and becoming more of an utility, something that everyone has or should have, more like electricity. I believe we are approaching that point.
And, this brings me to the main order of business: How to educate for this emerging Digital Workplace? My background is technology education, which was all about training up the smart people to do nifty things. But, over the last two decades, as technologies have become complex, front ends have become simpler. While that technology training business would go on, now it is the turn for everyone - Marketers, Accountants, Managers, Teachers, Security Professionals, Facilities Managers, you name it - to assess and understand how technologies are being used and will be used in their workplace. There is no escaping from it anymore.
Does this need special preparation? At this time, yes. This is because the our education system and even the system of professions are doing catch-up with this rapid pace of change in the workplace. Justifiably so: The changes have happened fast and any regulated system can only change at a certain pace. So, there is a chasm that one has to bridge, and this would take time, perhaps a generation, to bridge it fully.
I founded EducationCloud with this objective: To make students ready for Digital Workplaces. We want to work with educators, employers and students to create Communities of Practises, around different professional areas, which can engage and explore the changes. The idea is to complement what educators are doing, and providing them with content and toolkit - access to ideas, information and insights - from the frontiers of the transforming workplace, for plug-and-play use in their existing curriculum and credentials.