IGF 2019 WS #317 Going digital:Reinventing education and skill development

Organizer 1: Civil Society, African Group
Organizer 2: Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 1: Chenai Chair, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Joash Moitui, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Mercy Sumbi, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Renata Aquino Ribeiro, ,
Speaker 5: Royden Thato Mfikwe, Civil Society, African Group

Policy Question(s): 

1. How do we ensure that every citizen develops the necessary skills to remain active and included in an increasingly digital society?
2. What are we doing around technology to prepare educators? Is enough being done to develop technology in such a way that it can be used in an educational context?
3. Could digital transformation exacerbate labour market inequalities between regions, as the exposure to this transformation varies significantly from one region to another?
4. Are there examples of case studies, best practices, challenges and lessons learnt on digital technical skills, digital learning and what strategies were deployed?

Relevance to Theme: As digital skills become increasingly needed for the jobs of the future, the growing availability of ICT and technology in the workplace also means that employers seek a workforce with additional aptitudes.

Moreover, succeeding in the digital world also requires a wider set of ‘digital navigation skills’, which include finding information, prioritising information requirements, and assessing the quality and reliability of information. These skills will be increasingly important in the labour market of the future and, more generally, for inclusion and participation in society. It is crucial to ensure equal opportunities for all to acquire these skills, without which those who do not have either the relevant skills or access to technology are at risk of being excluded from society (social exclusion).

Education has a crucial role to play in achieving digital, social and labour market inclusion. However, is education preparing today’s young people for tomorrow’s jobs using yesterday’s tools? How can we make sure that we give today’s children the tools they need to adapt to tomorrow’s world? How can we make sure that education and technologies work in partnership, where education supports the acquisition of the skills required to use technologies and technologies support the teaching and learning process?

What is clear is that digital transformation is and continues to lead to a restructuring of the labour market and changing skills needs which, if not well-managed, could result in growing skills mismatch, structural unemployment and rising inequalities.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The internet is a foundational driver of digital transformation as well as an enabler. Data analytics, data-driven innovation, and other data-intensive activities, including machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), benefit from open and interconnected information systems and networks that enable efficient, flexible and cheap data flows among potentially unlimited actors. Enhancing access to data, through the internet, can maximise the social and economic value of data, provided that all stakeholders have sufficient evidence to assess the possible trade-offs of data utilisation.

Over the next decade, we’ll see this pattern play out once more in the nascent Internet of Things (IoT). With an industry defined by “bringing physical things online,” many IoT business models are predicated on improving efficiency by eliminating labour. We see companies connecting garbage cans to the internet to improve the efficiency of deploying waste collectors — which means we’ll need fewer waste collectors. Drones are dramatically reducing the time it takes to survey a plot of land — which means we’ll need fewer surveyors. Every industry that involves electronics or equipment can expect to be disrupted in this way over the next 10 years.

Mastering computer tools must go hand in hand with digital understanding including the internet. This contributes to making the learner “digitally competent”, particularly in terms of information selection, personal data protection and the spirit of online creation and collaboration.


Debate - Classroom - 60 Min

Description: Today, the world is at a critical point in the ongoing digital transformation. Technologies continue to develop rapidly and are combining novel and innovative ways, pushing digital transformation in new and often unpredictable directions. At the same time, the Internet cuts across national borders and changes conventional notions of location, distance, and jurisdiction. One particular sphere affected by this transformation is education and skills development.

The digital world is increasingly penetrating the education and skills domain, with technology gradually being used to deliver education, knowledge and skills in new and innovative ways. This penetration is coupled with future changes to the mode and pattern of work, which are themselves affected by the current climate of economic uncertainty, as well as by political shifts. Given the increased use of fast-changing digital technologies in the workplace, new skills needs have emerged. The use of these technologies has contributed to transforming learning and skills development into a lifelong process.

Technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. It can help affirm and advance relationships between educators and students, reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.

Similarly, advances in Artificial Intelligence, digitalisation, ICTs are changing profoundly change the world of work. Most people now regularly use digital tools like touchscreens, computers or smartphones at work and many see their jobs change as a growing share of the tasks they undertake can be automated and production processes get redesigned and embedded
in ICT infrastructures.

But for some members of society, such as ‘digital natives’, using technology is natural, but this is not necessarily the case for all. How do we ensure that every citizen develops the necessary skills to remain active and included in an increasingly digital society?

What is clear is that digital transformation is and continues to lead to a restructuring of the labour market and changing skills needs which, if not well-managed, could result in growing skills mismatch, structural unemployment and rising inequalities.

A digital transformation may also exacerbate inequalities between regions, as new jobs appear in places other than where they have been lost. Evidence from the United States shows that new industries have mainly appeared in urban locations that have a large share of high-skilled workers (Berger and Frey, 2015). Similarly, regions vary in their exposure to digital transformation, often depending on their industrial structure, and those most exposed to the adoption of robots have seen negative effects on employment and wages (Acemoglu and Restrepo, 2017)

In addition, we have to be cognizant of a new digital divide—the disparity between students who use technology to create, design, build, explore, and collaborate and those who simply use technology to consume media passively. On its own, access to connectivity and devices does not guarantee access to engaging educational experiences or quality education. Without thoughtful intervention and attention to the way technology is used for learning, the digital use divide could grow even as access to technology in schools increases.

Expected Outcomes: 1. Discussions on the flexible, forward-looking and integrated policy framework that cuts across policy silos is essential to ensuring a coherent and cohesive approach to fully realise the potential of digital transformation and address its challenges
2. Set a vision for the use of technology to enable learning such that leaders bring all stakeholder groups to the table, including students, educators, families, technology professionals, community groups, cultural institutions, and other interested parties.

Discussion Facilitation: 

1. Use of moderators to ensure that workshops are interactive.
2. Impartiality of coordinators and encouraging input from participants in their group.
3. Keep discussions on time and remind participants to note down all their points.
4. Promote questions and comments to make the conversation richer.

Online Participation: 

We shall effectively use the official online participation platform to ensure better flow of information can make stakeholders on all sides more empathetic towards competing viewpoints. Comments and posts will be moderated by online moderators and brought for discussion during the debate. This is useful in ensuring that we manage their ideas efficiently and make decisions based on real-time data.

Proposed Additional Tools: Zoom: provides exceptionally reliable quality, minimizing audio or video latency issues that you usually encounter with most video conferencing participants
Google Forms: allow you to create unlimited surveys to gain views of participants before, during and after the event.


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities