Twenty years ago, the term “social media” would have been welcomed by raised eyebrows and sideways glances; it was a phrase that held very little significance (and which wouldn’t for some time).
Today, the combined users of Facebook represent more individuals than are housed on most continents. Furthermore, the platform has been instrumental in shaping the political, social, and business processes of nations around the world. It’s pervasive, powerful, and now so intuitive that many children now wonder what we did before Facebook. It’s been just eight short years, but the world has changed in dramatic fashion.
The advances to technology that prompted this shift aren’t going to stop. In fact, a 2010 Tech Crunch article notes that we now create as much information every two days as we did from “the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” What’s more, we’re increasingly using technology to distill these daily libraries of information into coherent, actionable human insights. Put simply: it’s a smarter, faster world (and it’s only going to become more so in the coming years).
What does all this mean for education?
If education is designed to prepare individuals for future success and productivity, this means that the task of locating effective content for curriculums has become increasingly more difficult. After all, as technology continues to accelerate societal change, educators—especially at the post-secondary level—will fall perpetually behind the curve of information creation.
Returning back to social media, consider designing a four year curriculum which prepares students to become professionals in the field. Any discussion of Facebook’s functionality—especially in the early years of the degree—would be essentially wasted; the platform updates to include new features almost weekly, and (if past trends have anything to say) what emerges several years from now will have little semblance to the original site. As the role of technology continues to expand across all disciplines, curriculums in all subjects will face similar problems.
If there’s a solution for accelerating change, it’s a decreased attention to rote memorization and an increased devotion to self-regulation. In a post-Internet world—one defined by constant change—a student’s ability to adapt and evolve with new information may eventually determine their ability to pursue a successful career.