How digital is changing learning and work

digital changing learning

This article on how digital is changing learning and work is part of a series on major tech trends and the impact on media brands based on ideas from Web Summit.

Read about the other tech themes here.

How is digital changing learning and work? Rapidly changing job roles mean that school and university students must acquire different skills, with some calling for more “code literacy.” Those already working will need to accept the need for lifelong learning, using a mix of online tools and face to face. The proportion of freelance workers will grow, gaining flexibility in hours and location, and providing on-tap expert skills for larger organisations.

So what are the challenges and opportunities for media brands created by this new landscape of work and learning?

Changing job roles and new skills needed

Artificial intelligence is expected to reduce the need for certain job roles, such as customer service agents being replaced by chatbots, or driverless cars replacing drivers. Plus some simple articles are now being created by robojournalists, freeing up reporters to focus on more in depth features.

New skills will be required across society, including the media industry: coding, UX design, data analysis, digital marketing and more… There are multiple initiatives to teach school students to code, to provide university courses in AI, machine learning and computer science, and build tech literacy across the working population.


The shift to freelance

Around a third of workers in the US are considered to be freelance, and many predict this will grow to half the working population in the next decade. Hiring freelances works for companies as they can access specialist skills on a project rate. Freelance work  provides knowledge workers with more flexible working patterns, avoiding high city living costs or commuting expenses, or mitigating child care costs. Freelance platforms such as Upwork are expanding, enabling employers to hire freelances across borders, and providing freelances with a wider range of clients.


How formal education will evolve

Universities will need to offer students the opportunity to acquire a broader set of skills to equip them for the changing work environment. The University of Sydney is evolving its courses to provide undergraduates with greater resilience in the face of change. As well as a core academic discipline to develop critical thinking, they can all take a second major from any faculty, an international module such as a language or a year abroad, and a real world project in a multi-disciplinary team for a corporation or charity. Blended learning will combine the networking value of physical seminars with the flexibility of online modules.


Lifelong learning for multiple careers

People are likely to follow multiple careers in their working life, and the pace of technology is unlikely to slow, so employees and freelances alike will need to learn continuously. Coursera provides MOOCs in tech and business disciplines with lecturers from top universities. In specialist sectors, there are evident opportunities for media brands to expand into providing learning modules, in partnership with established educational organisations and digital platforms.

Interesting panel discussion on how learning is evolving here. 

Impact on media businesses

So media brands will need to accommodate a more flexible, increasingly freelance labour market, and provide opportunities for their teams to continuously update their skills. They can also develop learning products for their specialist audiences as an extension of their content.

If you’d like to discuss how digital changing learning and work might affect your media business, I’d be happy to have a chat over the phone or over a coffee – just get in touch.

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About the author:

Carolyn Morgan has over twenty years experience launching, growing, buying and selling specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. Carolyn now advises publishers large and small on their digital strategy and writes and speaks on digital publishing strategy.

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