Hello Earthlings! Missed me?
This week I need to evaluate a job role in terms of how this role has changed and is likely to change in the digital economy.
As a very boring person, I have spent my life doing the same job in the same company. By the same company I mean a private university in Istanbul, sorry, I meant Tatooine… and by the same job, I mean teaching Advertising; Copywriting and Advertising Campaigns in particular.
When I first started this job, I was a Teaching Assistant and the world was not so digitalized yet. The students, we actually call them Jedis, were able to see their grades online and select their courses online as well but they still had to hand in the hard copy of their assignments. And when I was a student, it was even worse as we have to see our final grades through a paper that is attached to a pinboard right next to the lecturer’s room.
During my second or third year as a teaching assistant, we had a training for the university’s online platform. This new platform enabled us to upload the course material and share the necessary announcements online with the whole class or sometimes with the whole second or third grades. Students were able to upload their assignments to this online platform as well so to me, it was a huge relief. No risk to skip grading a paper or even worse no risk to drop a paper while trying to unlock your car’s door.
What Happened Next?
A couple of years later university administration presented another online platform called Blackboard. Once again, they invited us to some other training sessions, more complicated ones this time. I have attended the first one as many other colleagues of mine, then as the Advertising department, we assigned one of the teaching assistants to go there, listen to every single detail very carefully, and tell us some other time when we all have free time. That time of course, never came. Did I tell you how hardworking I am? Well, I will tell you some other time…
Eventually, they offered us to conduct some online modules. Students were crazy about this idea as they could spend their time out instead of being stuck in a classroom. Besides they didn’t have to worry about conflicting courses anymore. Within the staff, we had a bunch of dreamers who thought this was a great idea. They opened up some online modules and started to shoot videos right away. I, on the other hand, was completely against this idea. An online module people! I mean think about it! You will not even have an actual audience or any real interaction. To me, the idea was absolutely ridiculous. I stood by my thoughts and never taught an online module. Did I tell you how visionary I am? Well, maybe some other time…
10 Years Later…
Okay, okay! I took an online course, so what? I had to work and I wouldn’t be able to attend the classes if I had taken an offline one! Yes, I even liked some lecturers better and yes it is possible to interact with my classmates. Sometimes I even feel like I know some of them in real life but this doesn’t prove anything! You cannot tell me that I am not a visionary at all, you didn’t hear my other ideas yet!
What Might or Might Not Happen Next?
The education sector is already evolving with the digital age. We have laptops, tablets, smartphones that make all the information accessible. There are numerous apps that help us to learn a different language, how to play an instrument or how to get experience in programming. As Ernest Wilson stated, there are many new skills that the employers are after in digital era, however, with the constantly developing technology, it is easier for humans to gain all those skills now when compared to ten years ago.
According to Statistica, “the e-learning market worldwide is forecast to surpass 243 billion U.S. dollars by 2022…” and “in 2015, 49 per cent of students stated that they had taken an online course in the last 12 months.”
Distance learning is sure very convenient for most of us. In my case, I had to work but there are some other people all around the world, who didn’t even had a chance to get a proper education, people who live in isolated places or people with disabilities for example. Digitalization equalized the conditions already and with AR/VR the experience could even get better!
There are already many different applications with VR technology focusing on different areas such as Earth AR, Anatomy 4D, or Public Speaking VR and there are some institutions that already integrated virtual reality to pre-school education. There is also scientific evidence that students find the usage of VR technologies very effective in terms of ease of learning and focusing. There are schools in the US that take their students to VR tours to other countries or even to the space stations!
Now let’s start dreaming, shall we? Maybe in the near future, a student in Africa would have a chance to graduate from an ivy league college in the US without actually going to the US. But this time with the VR and AR technology, unlike us, he/she will be able to experience the campus life or maybe even be able to join a classroom environment.
If we dream a little further, maybe in the future the university concept will not represent a campus or a building at all. A lecturer might not need to relocate to start a new job at a new university but instead, he/she could work remotely just like the students. Teaching Assistantship position could disappear completely as AI would work as a personal assistant for the lecturers. This way even a fairer grading system could be possible.
New generation lecturers will sure have a lot to catch up. Universities will be expecting their staff to be tech literate in a very advanced way. Having some knowledge in MS Office programmes might not be enough to follow up these innovations. Some other software usage could be necessary to manage these virtual modules even for creating the course material including the videos. And of course being technically equipped to create the materials would also be desirable.
And one day, I hope that day never comes, after completing her PhD, it is possible for the teaching assistant, AI, to become the lecturer. Because if there is anything I know as an alien, it is that the “fiction” part of science-fiction keeps fading away each day…
ClassVR. (2018). Virtual & Augmented Reality in Pre-school Education. Retrieved from: http://www.classvr.com/virtual-reality-in-education/virtual-augmented-reality-in-pre-school-education/
Kennedy, E. (November 1, 2018). Can Virtual Reality Revolutionize Education? Retrieved from: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/01/health/virtual-reality-education/index.html
Lynch, M. (March 11, 2017). 20 Top Virtual Reality Apps That are Changing Education. Retrieved from: https://www.thetechedvocate.org/20-top-virtual-reality-apps-that-are-changing-education/
Nooriafshar, M., Williams, R., Maraseni, T. (2004). The Use of Virtual Reality in Education. 6-8. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228724825_The_use_of_virtual_reality_in_education
Statistica (2019). E-Learning and digital education – Statistics&Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/topics/3115/e-learning-and-digital-education/
Wilson, E. (Nov 25, 2016). Why Startup Leaders Need to Use ‘Third Space Thinking’. Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/ernest-wilson/5-attributes-succesful-leadership-for-future-jobs.html