Entering a New Era
The current era might best be called “the age of algorithms.”
If you haven’t had the chance to read our previous blog – an algorithm is a sequence of instructions that tells computers what to do. Computers are made up of many tiny keys, transistors, and algorithms turn those keys on and off billions of times per second.
Leading the way in innovation is machine learning. No longer do you need to generate a unique algorithm per task, as we now have the capability to construct machines that learn. In this sense, “machine learning” is an artificial intelligence subfield dedicated to the development of algorithms and techniques that allow the computer to learn continuously, improving its performance.
Algorithms control flights, manage our bank accounts, define learning environments, detect illnesses, and so much more. These algorithms progressively operate by learning from data tracks that we leave on digital interfaces. Thus, we are observed, imitated, and measured in our behaviors. As algorithms play an increasingly important role in our lives, the essential question is: how do we train the next generation of professionals?
Professions in the Age of Algorithms
There is an wide set of professionals associated with these areas.
Coders and programmers can be trained in vocational high schools, community colleges, or at a higher level. Data engineers or scientists often demand higher education. An additional set of professionals, such as system architects, in general, graduate at the graduate level. The strong dynamics and constant change in this area demand that many of them will take advantage of continuing education and micro-credentialing, far from the standard educational institutions as we know them today.
Data engineers or scientists are among the most coveted professionals on the market today. These professionals combine programming skills, computer science, statistics and specific knowledge of the business or mission. Such a profile is difficult to find, especially in the Brazilian market – where I live – which has resulted in a considerable increase in salaries paid to those who have mastered the art of data analysis more deeply. The correct collection, organization and mastery of the analysis make the data engineer an essential figure in any field of activity today.
Many professions associated with the world of algorithms do not even have a name yet, let alone do we know their respective details or job profiles. Today, our task is to discover how we can educate students for a changing future.
Preparing Students for the New Era
There are a few ways we can start doing this today:
- Emphasize the importance of cross-functional coursework that helps students to build a bridge between topics – such as between mathematics and ethics.
- Train students in programming, statistics, and data analysis from a young age.
- Ensure a strong emphasis on critical thinking.
- Don’t forget “soft” skills like complex problem solving, self motivation, and entrepreneurship.
- Encourage digital literacy skills.
- Keep your school up-to-date with the latest technology.
This new era has profound economic, social, and educational consequences. The sooner we dare to understand these societal shifts, the sooner we will be able to train professionals to meet the age of algorithms.
How are you reimagining education? Join the conversation in the comments and stay tuned for more thought leadership perspectives from #EducationNow next week.