The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools was an innovative project by American educator John Dewey at the end of the 19th century.

It was an experimental project as Dewey wanted to test his ideas of learning and education. A subsidiary of the University of Chicago proved to be one of the most successful schools in the United States.

Today, the alumni of this school are renowned attorneys, writers, professors, researchers, musicians, athletes, and a lot more. But what did Dewey do differently to create an educational ecosystem that could foster diverse talents?

He propounded the idea of Learning-by-doing. CEOs and entrepreneurs worldwide echo the sentiment that Dewey had dared to explore more than a century ago.

In 2022, it is time for educators to revisit this concept and understand its relevance in information technology.

What is Learning by Doing?

The theory of learning by doing is precisely what the name suggests. It is a theory of education that believes in the supremacy of hands-on education over a curriculum-based counterpart.

To put it in other words, you teach a child how to swim instead of ruminating about the aerodynamics of swimming. 

Don’t get us wrong here: the child would eventually learn the physics of swimming. But they would first focus on the physical act of swimming.

For example, if you accidentally fall from a fishing boat, swimming physics won’t save your life. More importantly, the physics of swimming will be a lot more interesting when a child can use it to improve their swimming skills.

Education models have to embody this principle to remain relevant in 2022. Today students can get more information from the internet than their mentors. However, they can’t get the presence of a person who has years of hands-on experience in any industry.

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Why learning by doing is the way forward

In the post-pandemic era, reskilling the workforce has become a significant concern for companies of all sizes and shapes. However, anyone who has experience in corporate training knows how difficult reskilling can be. In addition, senior employees are often averse to change how they have been working for decades.

No company can reskill its workforce by making them attend classes on a given subject. On the contrary, hands-on training has proven to be 55% more effective than passive lectures.

The passive lecture model is very ineffective when unlearning old and relearning new skills. Not only is it redundant, but it also kills the inquisitive spirit in many.

In 2022, corporate training must focus intensely on learning by doing.

If you have an existing workforce and do not have the budget to hire an entire team, hands-on training is the only way forward.

Moreover, a team with obsolete techniques and skills will not compete in the market. It is especially true for sectors where new disruptive technologies are emerging very often.

Social and emotional intelligence vs competence

According to Simon Gottschalk from the University of Nevada, the future of employment will not be competence-based. While that may sound counterintuitive, there’s a lot to think about in this comment.

Let’s address the elephant in the room to clarify this thesis – artificial intelligence, AI. As most of us already realise, automation (through AI and machine learning) will replace many existing jobs.

However, if we look at the long-term picture, automation will not only affect manual jobs. For example, the function of a financial reporter will be completely redundant with more accurate automated technology in place.

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But does that mean humans will only code and program and do nothing else? Does that also imply all those who cannot work with advanced computer science will starve? If we look at the history of technology, nothing suggests such an outcome.

The skills of the future will heavily rely on social and emotional intelligence. Of course, machines can take over the skill-based tasks, but humans will still need to organise other humans.

As a result, learning by doing will become the only effective mode of education. Unless students can deal with the world and other people in a practical setting, they will not develop social and emotional intelligence.

Beyond Technology – The Future of Interpersonal Skills

If we imagine a world where humans no longer have to work to earn a living, such a world should also accommodate the millions of skilled yet workless (not unemployed) people.

Our current understanding is that most workless people will have to work in fields that demand interpersonal communication skills. We can already see the beginning of this trend in the job market.

To reiterate our point, interpersonal skills do not correlate with academic acumen. Anecdotal evidence shows that people with less academic proficiency often have better interpersonal skills.

People with strong communication and interpersonal skills will have the highest demand in the upcoming employment market.

In the post-pandemic era, the definition of interpersonal skills has also significantly changed. Today, a leader and expert communicator needs to be proficient with all digital communication mediums.

Be it the ability to write convincing proposals or pitch a business idea; technology plays a huge role in communicating in society. As a result, the future of interpersonal skills will be an amalgamation of communication skills and technical proficiency.

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eLearning is Opening New Avenues

The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the unfortunate events in human history. At the same time, disasters always leave the survivors stronger.

In our generation, the most prominent example of this is the transition from classroom learning to eLearning. Due to adversity, we could finally organise eLearning at a scale where millions can benefit from it. While it may sound ambitious, even speculatory, we can confidently assert that eLearning is the future of education.

As the world demands more efficiency in every section of society, learning by doing is gaining prominence. This is a moment of a paradigm shift for educators where we all need to understand the needs and act accordingly. 

For more insightful articles about the job market, education, and the future of tech, head over to the CodeQuotient blog.

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