Living In The 4th Industrial Revolution

What is the 4th Industrial Revolution
It was in the Swiss mountains that the world was introduced to the term the 4th Industrial Revolution. Since then its been a hot topic amongst academics, politicians, and businesses alike. You might have heard about it within the online community but what exactly does it mean?
The 4th Industrial Revolution was coined by the founder of the world economic forum and former Professor Klaus Schwab who wrote a book about that title to describe an era marked by “a technological Revolution that is blurring the line between the physical, digital and the biological spheres.” Now let’s try and break that down, technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and the internet of things are becoming engraved in our day to day lives even in our bodies. Come to think of it, when was the last time you spent a whole day without your phone? These glassy gadgets have become an extension of ourselves. Some of the lucky ones even have voice-activated virtual assistance Siri and Alexa, face ID recognition, and fingerprint sensors to unlock the phone. Flashback to 1998 when the first cellphone rang in the Kingdom, the types of phones we carried back then are nothing like what we are using now. With the internet of things evolving every day who knows what kind of phones will we be carrying around by the year 2040?

Schwab first presented his vision of the 4th industrial revolution at the world economic forum annual meeting in Dallas in 2016. To understand the idea, we need to go back in time to the 1st industrial revolution. The 1st industrial revolution started in Great Britain in the year 1760 and spread to Europe and North America in the year 1800. It was powered by the invention of the steam engine. The results of that invention were the new manufacturing processes, the creation of factories, and a boom in textile industries. From the 1800s, the 2nd Industrial revolution was marked by mass production and new industries like steel, oil, and electricity. The lightbulb, the telephone, and the internal combustion engine were the few major inventions of that era.

The 3rd industrial Revolution which is sometimes known as the digital revolution occurred in the second half of the 20th century. In just a few decades we saw the invention of a semiconductor, the personal computer, and the internet. So, what separates the fourth industrial revolution from the 3rd? Experts say the main difference is that nowadays technology is merging more and more with human lives and the technological change is happening faster and faster. Consider this, it took 75 years for the 100 million users to adopt the telephone. Instagram signed up 100 million users in just 2 years whilst Pokémon Go got that amount in 1 month.

3D printing is one example of the fast-growing technologies of the 4th Industrial revolution. The industry has grown from a business idea to big business with 3D printer shipments expected to increase from just a little under 200 000 in 2015 to 20 million in 2020. Today you can have a 3D printed house, a 3D printed hip, or a 3D printed bionic arm, talk about blurring the line between humans and technology. This new era of technology is driven by a lot of innovation. The number of patents relating to the 4th industrial revolution 3D and Artificial Intelligence has significantly increased since the year 2000.

Organizations are embracing new technologies to make their businesses more efficient, similar to how they embraced the steam engine back in the 1st Industrial revolution. However; some companies and governments are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of technological change. Researchers, investors, and shareholders benefit the most from innovation and technological change. Think about the queues at the revenue offices. It is painfully exhausting to stand on that slow queue to renew a car license. If the government can adopt technology to address that problem I’m sure the influx would be reduced tremendously.

Yes, technology comes with its own set of problems. As it is, the risk is that the 4th Industrial Revolution is making inequality which is already a big issue even worse. A recent study revealed that billionaires have driven 80% of the 40 main breakthrough innovations over the last 40 years. That is a problem when the 1% richest households in the world already own 47% of the global wealth. Experts warn that we are in a winner takes all economy where highly skilled workers are rewarded with high pay and the rest get nothing. Studies confirm that technologies like Artificial Intelligence will eliminate some jobs and create demand for new skills that many workers do not have. Our education system in the country is still grooming learners for jobs that no longer exist, that’s a huge problem in my futuristic perspective. If our children are to survive in the new world our government needs to take action immediately.

Privacy concerns are the main issue as the 4th Industrial Revolution turns every company into a tech company. Industries from banking, shopping, and food retailers are collecting a lot more data about their customers along the way. Users are becoming more worried that companies and governments know too much about their private digital lives. The world Economic Forum says a majority of leaders are not confident that their organizations are ready to handle the changes associated with the 4th Industrial Revolution. Zooming in closer to the case of Eswatini, it may be the case as well that the majority of the ordinary citizens in the country are not prepared for the challenges brought by the 4th Industrial revolution or at least take advantage of its benefits. With tech changing fast every day, it’s time for Eswatini to catch up as well.

Technology Is Changing Everything!

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Creating a future of a digital work force one child at a time.

All over the world Technology is transforming every industry, eradicating old jobs and creating a whole new range of careers for the future. The future of jobs and skills report as conducted by the World Economic Forum reports that in the past decade 26% of new employments in Southern Africa have been in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).  In the same time frame, 6, 7% and 18, 4% of new employments in Ghana and Kenya respectively, were also in ICT industries. These statistics are indicative of Africa’s adoption of the 3rd industrial Revolution characterized by digitization, automations, computing and electronics. 

In the kingdom of Eswatini, we have seen a massive adoption of technology in online services such as whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and others as part of our daily lives.  Big Companies like MTN have embraced technology through the Mobile Money initiative that has made payments and cash transfers between individuals very easy and accessible to everyone regardless of where they are in the country. The banking sector is also using technology (online banking) to make their services more accessible to their customers. Parking space in shopping centres in Mbabane and Manzini have seen parking attendants being replaced by vending machines that issue parking tickets and collect money efficiently. In the sugarcane fields, human irrigators were long replaced by automatic irrigation machines that are so efficient and even boost a proper harvest. Many other private companies Eswatini are embracing technology as a solutions to improve services, production and maintain or increase profits. Therefore there is no doubt that the Kingdom of Eswatini is participating in the advancements of technology and the 4th Industrial Revolution.  

The question is, how is our local education system being amended to cater for the technological changes and demands being experienced today?  The truth remains that children born in the 21st century are very comfortable with technology, as young as 4 years old they already know how to navigate a smart phone, take pictures and play different video games without anyone teaching them.  The challenge is only using the content (apps and video games) instead of creating their own. In advanced countries through coding and computer programming lessons, children as young as 9 year old are creating useful applications and video games for other children to download thus generating income for their families at a very young age.  

In the context of Eswatini, the absence of sufficient laboratories in schools, limited exposure to internet connectivity and lack of coding lessons have resulted to our children missing out on essential knowledge that is relevant to the current digital economy. There is a need to upgrade our learners to be on a par with changes happening all over the world. If Eswatini is to produce competitive revolutionist of the 4th Industrial Revolution focus must be place on digital education from early childhood development to tertiary education.  The craving of today’s youth for an advanced digital education in the wake of this industry needs to be fed.

 As decision makers and thought leaders, we should not allow our lack of understanding to hinder the progress of today’s youth who are the decisions makers and leaders of tomorrow.  The World Economic Forum projects that the working age in Africa will increase to 600 million in 2030 from 370 million in 2010. Furthermore the population of Africans with a secondary education will increase from 36% in 2010 to 52% in 2030.  These statistics give a clear direction of action which has to be taken in the preparation of the future work force. 

Therefore one can conclude that if technology is transforming every industry by creating new job opportunities for the future, one needs to speak its language and that language is computer code. Teaching children how to code at a very young age encourages them to think, acquire problem solving skills and the confidence to contribute to the forefront of technology. It may take a while for governments to re-frame the education system to fit the modern era, so the duty now lies in the capabilities of the parents to decide what information is right for their children to be relevant in their future. May I dedicate this last sentence to pass our sincere gratitude to the parents of Eswatini who have enrolled their children with us. It is an amazing journey, learning through the medium of technology (Zoom and Gamified lessons) has proven to be effective and highly enjoyable.

Empowering Eswatini Children to be Digital Creators

How can Eswatini learners participate as creators in the 4th industrial revolution if they do not have the knowledge and practical strategies for creating change? The importance of teaching Coding from K to 12 is widely recognized. Our Coding platforms have been designed to teach and equip learners from early childhood development age 4 up to 16 years old with appropriate skills to exhibit new ways of thinking which in turn breeds new ways of solving problems. Problem-based learning approaches where learners are given tasks that encourages critical thinking, creativity, complex information processing and interpretation, basic digital skills and advanced IT skills. According to McKinsey Global Institute report on ‘Skills shift – automation and the future of the workforce”, these are some of the skills that will be utilized the most in the year 2030.  

Schools worldwide have adopted coding programs where learners build websites, develop new games, design solutions to challenges by modelling and prototyping new products.  At the same time a shift is taking place in schools, as learners are exploring subject matter through acts of creation rather than the passive consumption of internet content. Through the use of this existing technology (computers and internet) Techno Friends Foundation is determined to provide Eswatini children with a practical solution where they can strengthen their computer programming skills as well as create their own online content in the comfort of their schools and own homes.  Techno Friends carries out this objective by inviting learners to participate in an hour of code course that teaches learners coding skills. Contact us to find out more about Hour of Code sessions.

WHAT IS “HOUR OF CODE”?

The Hour of code can be defined as follows;

  • A campaign that raises awareness for the need of coding skills for the 21st century children.
  • It allows anyone to learn how to code, regardless of age.
  • It is fun, provides multiple levels of fully interactive courses presented as gamified lessons that builds skills and confidence.
  • It allows learners to continue practicing coding on any computer in the world that is connected to the internet. 

The concept behind the Hour of Code is to energize, encourage and empower learners in their current environment with the skill to code.

The power to create is strong within every young person and many just love the opportunity to create through Code.  The Hour of Code campaign aims to demystify computer science for youth all over the world by taking them through tutorials that are completed online on a computer.  The hour of Code is not only about equipping the next generation to work as software engineers but it is about promoting computational thinking.

Computational thinking teaches children how to tackle large problems by breaking them down into a sequences of smaller, more manageable problems.  It allows them to tackle complex problems in efficient ways that operates in a huge scale.  It involves creating models of the real world scenario with suitable levels of abstraction and focus on the most pertinent aspects. It empowers children with skills that enables them to be proficient in the fields of STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education. 

OBJECTIVES

By investing in trans-formative Computer Programming (coding) education for young people, we are striving to build a generation of a digital workforce founded on the principles of creativity and innovation in Age of Digitization.  Our desire to deliver a program that is trans-formative means that our lessons utilize learner– centered training, encourages high levels of learner participation, intervention, and engagement in higher level thinking.

The specific objectives are to empower learners with skills on;

  • Universal Coding concepts such as using variables, loops, arrays, indexes, conditions,  functions writing event handlers and more. 
  • Real text-based coding languages such as Coffee Script, JavaScript and Python 
  • Problem-solving skills, Analytical thinking, Teamwork and Creativity 
  • Generalization and abstraction of problems 
  • Finding the similarities and differences between problems 
  • Recognizing patterns 
  • Object-oriented thinking 
  • Independent working skills

In translating the topics to objectives, we use a framework for trans-formative coding education that ensures that each objective is specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant as they progress from one level to the next.

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