Anthony Salcito: Technology as a transformative force in Education

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Microsoft’s Vice President of Education, Anthony Salcito, begins by saying that “reinventing” education is a cause for concern, especially for teachers. The dynamics of change begin by recognising a simple concept: learning. We are presented with a great opportunity, but until we change the mindset in our approach, we will not be able to take full advantage of what technology has to offer.
Furthermore, the fact that students are learning without teachers produces a certain fear. However, this reality should empower educators, as the world requires new skills and this is where the role of teachers has never been more important. Pupils need to be taught new skills so that they are sufficiently prepared. It’s not about technological transformation, but about transforming people and changing mindsets. It’s about empowering teachers so that they are seen as respectable heroes in our society and recognise that their mission is highly valuable. We must be able to bring this culture of reinventing ourselves into the classroom, of being daring, of being able to change the status quo. Technology is also helping to accelerate change; in that sense, the power and capability of data is changing and driving this transformation. We need to think differently about how we use data and change the culture we have about how we handle data. Data is connected to a convergence that is taking place in technology. This is the convergence of Big Data and data availability driven by investments in AI and cloud availability, which is changing everything and requires us to think differently about how we use data so that we get results and are able to predict where we need to go. This convergence is part of 5 key trends that are changing everything: AI, Internet of Things, Mixed Reality, Blockchain and quantum computing. At this point, the most frightening thing is not the disappearance of jobs, since the reality is that they all bring new job opportunities with them that did not exist until a few years ago, but the lack of talent. Quantum computing has the potential to change the world and will help students to gain the necessary skills to tackle many of the challenges that exist in the world, such as climate change, food production and so on. Students are the future and teachers are a key player along this path. An innovative philosophy and a strong conviction to drive change must be imposed in classrooms, and this has to start with everyone having a change of mentality.

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