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The way we create higher education will require a seismic shift in the near future in order to prepare the next generation of students for the rapidly changing world, argues OES’s UK Academic Director Professor Gilly Salmon.

In a paper published in the Journal of Learning for Development, Professor Salmon investigates the curricula and technology that will underpin ‘Education 4.0’, and the wider global changes which will shape its delivery.

Reflecting on the evolution of higher education over the past 1,000 years, and drawing on the parallel developments of the worldwide web from a transmissive to symbiotic system, Professor Salmon highlights the lessons learnt and how they could influence our foresight in creating education fit for new and uncertain futures.

She emphasises that universities do not need to change their values, but instead clearly define their visions and how they will equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to adapt to a rapidly changing society and world of work.

“We should ‘future-proof’ as far as we can. By identifying brand new programmes that are likely to prepare students for enabling Industry 4.0, along with setting students up to fulfil worthwhile, sustainable, multiple careers and to become contributing citizens of globalization 4.0 during their long lives,” says Professor Salmon.

As today’s students call for increased personalisation, adaption, transformed assessment and increased mobility, she argues for a symbiotic approach where the best of human teaching and technology combine to enable every learner to become systems’ designers and achievers.

The pace and scale of change engulfing the higher education sector is unprecedented. Professor Salmon’s paper aims to stimulate dialogue and promote preparedness to ensure we continue to deliver outstanding outcomes for the workforce of the future.

‘May the Fourth Be with you: Creating Education 4.0’ is available through open access in the Journal of Learning for Development, published by the Commonwealth of Learning