Future Ready Learners: Equipping Students with Skills for Tomorrow

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on 10/6/2023

This week, I’m excited to highlight the thoughts of our CIO, Rob Dickson.  Here are some of Rob’s thoughts about the future, skills, and our obligation to create an impactful and innovative educational experience for all of our students. - Kelly



What are the essential skills students need to succeed in the future?


As a parent of three daughters in their twenties, I understand it's natural to compare their education to what I received. However, as a Chief Information Officer with a passion for transforming learning environments, I believe that students must be Future Ready Learners to thrive in the digital age. Our district's new mission, "Wichita Public Schools prepares each student to achieve readiness for life, college, and career through an innovative and impactful educational experience," supports this. In this blog post, we'll delve into the necessary skills students require to succeed in the future and the crucial role public education plays in nurturing tomorrow's leaders.

 

The Digital Revolution

The digital revolution has drastically changed our daily lives, including the way we work, learn and interact. Technology has become an integral part of our existence, and it's essential to recognize that the skills needed for success are constantly evolving. Today, students require a diverse skillset that extends beyond traditional academic knowledge. Technology has even disrupted the learning environment, as shown in the diagram below, with changes occurring across all grade levels.


Here are some Future Ready Skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s landscape: 

Adaptability and Resilience

One of the most critical skills for future-ready learners is adaptability. The pace of technological change means that job roles and industries can shift rapidly. Students must be prepared to pivot and adapt to new challenges and opportunities. Resilience goes hand in hand with adaptability; it is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and learn from failures. In the fast-paced world of technology, the capacity to persevere through challenges is invaluable.

Digital Literacy

 

In today's world, digital literacy is no longer a bonus but a necessity. Students must be proficient in using technology to communicate, research, and solve problems. Additionally, they should be aware of the ethical implications of the digital realm, such as online safety, privacy, and responsible digital citizenship. By working with Dyane Smokorowski, the District's Digital Literacy and Citizenship Coordinator, we have witnessed the positive effects of empowering students with these essential skills. Our 12 Verizon Innovative Learning Middle Schools focus on obtaining digital citizenship certification through Common Sense Media to help students understand the impact of their digital footprint.

Collaboration and Communication


The future of work is collaborative. Students must learn to work effectively in teams, both in person and virtually. Effective communication skills, including the ability to articulate ideas, actively listen, and provide constructive feedback, are vital. Public education plays a crucial role in creating environments that foster collaboration and communication, preparing students for the collaborative nature of modern workplaces.


Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving


In a world inundated with information, students need to develop critical thinking skills to discern credible sources, analyze data, and make informed decisions. Problem-solving is another cornerstone skill, as students will face complex, real-world challenges that require creative solutions. These skills are central to design thinking, which, as a team leader and mentor, I've found to be a powerful approach to problem-solving and innovation.


Continuous Learning

 

Learning doesn't end with a diploma. Future-ready learners understand the importance of continuous learning and self-improvement. They seek out opportunities to expand their knowledge and skill set, whether through formal education, online courses, or professional development. Public education institutions can facilitate this mindset by promoting a love for learning and providing resources for ongoing growth.

 

Embracing Technology

 

Technology is not just a tool; it's a driver of innovation and transformation. As the leader of a virtual school and an esports program in my district, I've witnessed firsthand how technology can create engaging learning environments. Future-ready learners embrace technology and view it as an enabler, not a barrier. They are open to new tech trends and are willing to adapt to emerging tools and platforms. 


What is the role of public education in shaping these future leaders?

Public education is the cornerstone of society, and its role in preparing students for the future is paramount. I've had the privilege of spearheading initiatives that bridge the gap between technology and education. We must continue to invest in our public education system to ensure that all students have equal access to the skills and knowledge needed for success in the digital age.

 

Public education should focus on:

  • Innovation: Embrace innovative teaching methods and technologies to create dynamic and engaging learning experiences.
  • Equity: Ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have access to quality education and the tools required for digital literacy.
  • Collaboration: Forge partnerships with universities, businesses, and communities to provide students with real-world experiences and opportunities for mentorship.
  • Teacher Professional Development: Support educators in staying up-to-date with the latest educational technology and teaching strategies. Knowing many of our staff are digital immigrants, we need to meet them where they are at and help them progress to where our student’s meet technology.

 

In conclusion, the future of work in technology holds incredible promise, and public education is the key to unlocking this potential. Future-ready learners, equipped with adaptability, digital literacy, collaboration, critical thinking, and a passion for continuous learning, will lead us into an era of innovation and progress. I am confident in the abilities of our students, and I am positive that Wichita Public Schools will continue to play a vital role in shaping these future leaders. Together, we can ensure that every student is prepared for success in the exciting and ever-evolving world of tomorrow.