How Tech is Enabling Students to Broaden Their Horizons and Unlock Their Passions
The Chinese philosopher, Confucius, once said...
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
However, for young people, passion can be a hard thing to find, especially when it comes to choosing a career path. This decision is made even more complicated by the ever-changing world we live in.
It’s clear that the world is transforming rapidly at the hands of technology. According to the World Economic Forum, many of the jobs that will be on offer to the new generation don’t even exist yet.
In our recent series of Clubhouse events, we have been focusing on ‘skills for the future’. We want to hone in on how we can prepare our children, teens, and young adults for a world that will continue to be driven by technology.
Rha Rha is a community engagement system that partners with students and institutions to help them find their passions, expand their perspectives and set themselves up for future happiness and success.
Yho and Shan, along with some members of the inspirEd community, discussed how technology could help students explore new interests and opportunities in their learning journeys and, in turn, help them find their passions.
Fixing Student Learning Outcomes: Is Tech the Answer?
At the age of about 16 or 17, teenagers are expected to make a big decision.
Those heading into higher education need to decide what kind of career path they want to pursue. This decision not only defines their life for the next few years but can really shape the course of the rest of it.
The fact of the matter is that it’s impossible for a teenager to know exactly what they want their life to look like in 10, 20 or 30 years.
Research shows that up to 60% of students enter their tertiary studies unsure of what direction they actually want to go in. On average, students will change their major at least 3 times. Additionally, 75% of students end up changing their major at least once before graduation.
The majority of students are not actually at the stage where they are capable of making an informed and effective decision that requires such a high level of self-knowledge and self-reflection.
Some teenagers may have a vague idea of what they are interested in. However, this is usually based on a few simple assumptions, like what subjects they did well in at school, or on the opinions of other figures in their lives like parents, teachers, siblings, or peers.
More often than not, the decisions they make are nowhere near as informed as they should be.
Shan recalls her own experiences as a teenager looking to study at university. 20 years ago, students were struggling because there wasn’t enough information out there. However, today, there’s almost too much information.
There are so many options to choose from that young people are almost paralyzed by their options. It can be hard to find clear guidance and make sense of all the different information sources out there.
“Fast forward to today, I think it’s a little different because now there may be too much information out there. I think for the college or high school-age kids, a lot of the higher education institutions might be competing for them, and they receive a lot of information. And sometimes they have a problem deciding what is most important to them, or what is best for them and how to assess the situation based on who they are as a human. So I think that that is probably why it's hard to decide what you want to do.”
With all this information out there, the real challenge for young people is something simple, yet also complex: they need to find their passion.
However, little time is taking to help them really understand who they are as people and what they are genuinely interested in and passionate about.
Are Schools Actually Preparing Learners to Make These Big Decisions?
Student learning outcomes are often focused on preparing students for their exams in order for them to get good marks, in order for them to get into a university and get a ‘good’ degree.
Many traditional school environments do not have the tools or capacity to give learners access to the broad range of resources that young people need in order to explore their passions.
South Africa-based educator Jared, shared his experience with this traditional system that he finds his learners in.
“We still work according to an old academic system. Young people think they have to go to public school, then enter college and get a job. They have access to all these incredible sources on the internet, but they do not use them. So that's my mission - to increase the vision of what their future could hold”
According to Jared, he has found value in helping his students to develop a range of interconnected skills. In this way, learners have skills that work well together and it provides them with the opportunity to explore more and more skills and ideas outside of their comfort zone.
Jared has created his own online resources for his students that help them to explore this.
“I have a YouTube channel called Future Vision. My mission is to incite passion and help students to see the Fourth Industrial Revolution for what it is - and all the possibilities that come with it.”
The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ sums up the changes that we see in the world today. In the same way that previous industrial revolutions have impacted how we work, what work we do, and what skills we need, so too will this one.
However, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is very different from previous ones. This revolution is defined by the technology that we use in all facets of our lives to connect between digital and offline spaces.
The changes will define the skills that will become increasingly relevant, and help us to understand how we can fit into a tech-forward future.
According to Jared, as an educator, one of the most important things we can be doing for young people is helping them to develop interdisciplinary skill sets. Not only does this expose them to more opportunities to spark passion and interest, but it sets them up for the direction we’re heading in.
“I try to encourage my students to learn as many things as possible. This helps them to develop intuitive passion, as they start to realize what they enjoy and how their various skills and interests can connect. Every time they try something new, they will learn something - even if it’s just learning what they don’t want to do.”
When it comes to the traditional institutions playing a part in this, Shan thinks that it should be a two-way street. While parents, educators, and facilitators can do their best to prep their kids for higher education, tertiary institutions need to meet us halfway.
“I think it is kind of a two-way street. These institutions should be making this information more understandable and more human, instead of having a five-inch thick catalog of courses. Nowadays more and more institutions are embracing the concept of providing these meta majors. So they break down these majors into five or six big clusters. For example, before you decide if you want to become a neurosurgeon, versus a foot surgeon, you know that you're into medicine or you're into biology. So that's enough of a clue to get you started in your education.”
Student engagement through online learning: Where passion is found?
So how can learners know when they stumble across something that sparks their passion?
Yho shares that the first step is to remove any ego or preconceived ideas from the process. Young people need to let go of what they think they should be doing, and focus on what truly makes them happy.
“What we have to do is enable our learners to really understand beyond “what am I good at?”. They may think, “maybe I'm good at math, but I also really like writing poetry”. However, the ego does often come in. You need to remember what makes you feel like you’re in a flow state. A flow state is where you don't feel like you're working anymore, because you are just doing what you do and enjoying it. So how can we enable children to find out what makes them feel this way and use that input to choose those careers?”
This is where technology comes in.
Students won’t always have direct exposure to the various fields or areas that they are perhaps interested in.
However, there are a number of tech-enabled student engagement strategies that can help them to explore their options. There are numerous platforms geared towards young people that help to connect them with opportunities to develop their skills and learn more about themselves.
This could include:
- Work shadowing opportunities
- Internship opportunities
- Part-time work opportunities
- Volunteering opportunities
There are even a number of websites that are specifically geared towards high schoolers transitioning into tertiary education. Some useful websites include:
Above and beyond that, there are so many digital content creators out there who use their platform to share first-hand experiences of what it's like to work in various industries.
Technology has enabled us to connect in a way that truly opens up so many doors.
With the sophistication of video conferencing software, geographical location no longer has to be a barrier. Students can be living in the US and connect with people and places from quite literally anywhere in the world.
While all these amazing tools are available, it’s important to remember that finding a passion or purpose isn’t something that happens overnight or in an instant. It’s something that, as individuals, we slowly build up to over time - like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.
“If you're faced with a giant task that you know will take a really long time and a lot of hard work for you to accomplish, you feel scared. So I think what's critical to success is breaking up challenges into smaller chunks and then accomplish one at a time. In this way, the goal is always just within reach. Through this, you have a lot of little wins and build on those small successes.”
Learn about more student engagement strategies with Galileo
At Galileo, we are committed to helping future-thinking families to unlock their children’s potential and to prepare them for the exciting future that is ahead of us.
If you are interested in learning more about what goes on in our community, we host regular Clubhouse 👋 events with tons of interesting thought-leaders and expert speakers.
Join our upcoming events here or register directly below!