Today’s life and work environments require far more than thinking skills and content knowledge. The ability to navigate the complex life and work environments in the globally competitive information age requires students to pay rigorous attention to developing adequate life and career skills.
We live in an era where it is widely believed that we face an epochal challenge to guide our students into an information age of immense complexity, promise, and peril. We expect our students to spend countless hours working on computers. Yet we push their hands-on online engagement into a virtual environment that does nothing to equip them with practical and transferable web skills. Nor are they engaging the world-wide web in a spirit of critical inquiry. They are in a system, they are being managed.
I recently heard a short episode of the science podcast Radiolab entitled Brown Box. In it, reporter Mac McLelland goes to work at Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc. one of the mega-warehouses that feed internet retailing. If you are wondering what a fully-rendered data-driven workplace looks like, these people have made remarkable progress in that direction.
At some point, listening to this episode, I realized I had my perspective aligned completely wrong. Here I was thinking that by confining teaching and learning within a managed and artificial space, we were neglecting to provide an opportunity to develop the skills and critical thinking needed to thrive in an increasingly digitized world.
What I realize now is that by directing our students to adapt to a world in which they can exercise no control over their environment, where every click and eyeball twitch is monitored and analyzed by inscrutable algorithms, we are in fact preparing them for the real world of work (and society) that they will be living in. The Learning Management System is in fact a near-perfect training ground for the life that awaits them.