Getting Ready for a New World

I’ve mentioned several times the relentless advancement of automation, such as recent developments in manipulating media (here) as well as the ever-increasing skills of the Boston Dynamics robots (here).

Today, I bring you Jamoca the Robot Dog, able to navigate the same kind of plumb blossom poles that martial arts masters like Bruce Lee use to train for balance. (If you’re not familiar, plumb blossom poles are basically uneven poles spaced randomly apart.) Any pretense at the idea that robots need smooth, continuous surfaces to navigate is long gone. See Jamoca in action!

I understand that this is a crazy time to be worrying about one more thing, when the entire education model has been turned upside down by a virus. I heard last week at the ACTE Vision virtual conference that 43% of students are still learning in a virtual environment. What’s more, we don’t yet have any idea about the secondary impacts. How will schooling change as a result of what we’ve learned over the past nine months? What will be the financial impacts to schools be when state and local governments will be dealing with nine months of reduced income and sales taxes?

But the advances being made in technology are not going away just so we can deal with other crises – they’re happening, and they’ll continue to happen. And when our students graduate into the real world, this is the world they’ll face. One in which more and more jobs are lost to, or altered by, the increasing capabilities of artificial intelligence and mechanical ability.

We need to think about what that means in various professions – how it changes employment demand as well as the knowledge and skills required for successful professionals. I don’t have those answers, but I do believe that while we’re in a time of experimentation as we adapt to new models of learning, I hope that some educators are liberated by the opportunity to teach differently, and that they find ways of rethinking student preparation in light of these changes.

Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of the National Center for College and Career (NC3T) ( NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance, and tools. These strategies help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.