AGP Ep 37: Dr Tim Patston and Peter Evans-Greenwood—Digital agency and the skills gap⁠—Should everyone learn to code?

by | Oct 24, 2019

Dr Tim Patston is the head of Innovation at Geelong Grammar School, and Peter Evans-Greenwood is a fellow at Deloitte Centre for the Edge. They have been working together on research around the future of work and the digital skills gap, and have uncovered some unexpected results.

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AGP Ep 37: Dr Tim Patston and Peter Evans-Greenwood—Digital agency and the skills gap⁠—Should everyone learn to code?
Alpha Geek Podcast AGP Ep 37: Dr Tim Patston and Peter Evans-Greenwood—Digital agency and the skills gap⁠—Should everyone learn to code?
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“If you consider when mobile phone use exceeded 90% of the population. These were very very recent, and to expect us to keep up within that pace of change was sort of a ridiculous expectation”—Dr Tim Patston
“A digital native is familiar with technology because they've grown up with it, but it doesn't mean they've actually got much of a clue about how to use it”—Peter Evans-Greenwood
“How do you know what is true and what is not true? That used to be a philosophical question, now it's a digital question”—Dr Tim Patston
“You might have Googled something. So you know something 'of something' snd you're aware of it, but you don't know it”—Peter Evans-Greenwood
“One of the mistakes is to say: It's a skills gap, therefore we need to cut back the curriculum and provide more time for skills”—Dr Tim Patston
“It's no longer how much do you know? It's how little do you need to know! How do I reach out and grab the knowledge and skills I need just in time so that I'm effective?”—Peter Evans-Greenwood

Topics/Transcript

Andrew: (00:00)
All right. Here we are. I’m sitting here with Peter Evans-Greenwood and Dr Tim Patston and we’re going to talk about a really exciting collaboration that you’ve been working on, so Dr Tim Patston is the coordinator of creativity and innovation at Geelong Grammar School and Peter Evans Greenwood is a fellow at this Deloitte Centre For The Edge, so welcome to you both. Thank you for joining me. Thank you. And what we’re talking about today is you’re releasing a series of papers that the main ones called to code are not to code and this is this really exciting collaboration between Deloitte Centre For The Edge and Geelong Grammar School and it’s around digital agency and the skills gap are there’s a secondary paper, an insights paper that focuses on the digital ready worker and if you want to read all about it, we’ll link to the reports and you can read about how the research was done, et cetera. We’re not going to spend a lot of time digging into that in today’s discussion. We are going to get straight into the good stuff, but I want to turn it over to you both to tell me. So why this project, what’s the Genesis of this? Why are we talking about this? Why is this important?

Peter: (01:07)
It was an accident, wasn’t it? Um, Centre For The Edge and Geelong Grammar met each other all four years ago, I think it was when Centre For The Edge did a report on education, which was kind of a bit provocative for consultancy because it really just, it had this idea that in a world, where “why remember what you can Google?”. So your relationship with knowledge has changed shouldn’t your relationship with education change. So Geelong Grammar found that interesting and we started talking and then I think there was a point in time about three or four years ago where Tim rang me and said, we’re getting these vendors coming and they’re, they’re selling us this teach your kids how to code solutions. So it’s like 50 or a hundred K or something. And apparently they’re all awesome and we don’t know, should we do it? I suppose he asked me, and he could probably can tell me if I’m wrong, but you know, my background is distributed AI and very geeky and so maybe I should know and I thought very, very briefly, I have no idea what they’re selling because I’m not in totally sure coding, is such a big nebulous term.

Peter: (02:02)
It can mean so many things about, but what are they actually teaching and what’s the actual educational outcome they’re providing here? And so we had a chat and then we went on our own ways, we’re talking to various people. We got caught up in a month or two later and realised that if you ask someone, why should everyone learn how to code, you’ve got all these different answers depending on who they were and how they were approaching the question. So we thought we need to do something about this and which is the Genesis of the project. So, rather than doing the sort of standard reflex, of let’s take this idea of digital literacy or digital competence and define it really well and come up with the definitive definition that you can teach to, we thought, let’s get a bunch of people in a room and just ask them a bunch of really naff questions.

Peter: (02:43)
And I think they were. So what do you mean by coding? Um, why should everyone learn how to code? Is there stuff in the Australian curriculum that we’re missing for coding? And I think the last one was how do we bring the community along? So really simple questions. We round tables, 24 ish, 30 people across the nation, um, educators, industry, students, coders, all sorts of people. And it was really interesting because this kind of unpacking of the idea was really valuable because we discovered that even though all of the conversations were completely different, they all ended up at the same place. And it was kind of two big ideas come out of this series, which was the first that yes, absolutely we should teach kids how to code because it’s become something like the modern alchemy. It’s a black art that’s is inscrutable art that people feel that that to be in control of tools, you need to understand this art and so we need to demystify it.

Peter: (03:38)
So everyone should do a little bit of coding year five, year six maybe a refresher in year nine so they know what it is, so we de-mystify it and that’ll also have the benefit of people who aren’t thinking about being coders who might like to be coders might consider it because they’ve had some exposure to it and we should probably also offer a coding stream through K-12 because we should support these people. But that’s not the point. The actual actual intention that hid behind that statement was this kind of hard to explain urge that in a digital world, how do we know the next generation is going to be prepared? We’ve got to do something to prepare them because what we don’t want, and we only had like kind of a negative expression of this was what we don’t want is people to stop and be unable to work in this environment, have learned helplessness.

Peter: (04:23)
And the rest of the project since then has just been us really saying, well, we asked. Interesting question. We’ve got an answer and we’re clearly asking the wrong questions. Let’s ask a different one. And so we went through that. We said, well, the next one we said, well, what’s learned helplessness? Where does that come from? And we unpack that and realised it was because it’s hard to engage with with what’s going on. It’s not because you don’t have the skills, it’s because you don’t know how to apply the skills. It’s because in a world of digital technology, knowing how to use the tools is useful, but knowing when and why is more useful. And then the last round is when we kind of unpack that even further and came up with a framework which we hope helps people understand where this learned helpless comes from and how we can think about it. And that was this year and the final reports kind of just unpack all that and lay it out for the audience.

Andrew: (05:09)
So that gives us a really great summary of sort of what the report is all about and what’s in there. And we’re going to unpack that further in our discussion today.

Andrew: (05:16)
But it’d be good to, to really hone in on that problem space. Now. And Tim, you said something before the interview that I thought was really insightful about the problem space, which was that everyone knows the world is moving fast, but we don’t know how to keep up. I mean is that where this really all started?

Tim: (05:30)
Absolutely. And in my position, looking at creativity and innovation is looking at both the present future education and education has got a history of waves. Often the waves come from a combination of the tertiary sector and the political sector rather than what is best for education and best for children. And one of the things that impressed me about the work that I read from Deloitte Centre for the Edge was that they were happy to throw a hand grenade into the room and say, can we really seriously look at education? At the time I’d just been looking at some work, which is that if you get a university to come and ask you a question in education, by the time you pose the problem, get the ethics approval, go through the process, revise it, submitted a journal, journal article, get that published and get it back to the school again.

Tim: (06:19)
It’s three to five years on which time the principals left and the kids that were in year seven and now in year 11 so there was the, there’s a, there’s a significant lack of agility within the education system. A significant lack of flexibility. They lack the ability to pivot because if you’re waiting for policy makers to change education, you’ll be waiting a very long time. So when I looked at the questions that were being asked by Deloitte, it was very important for us to go, okay, yes, we know the world is changing very quick. How can we actually make an impact upon their education sooner rather than later. And so by having the round table with the stakeholders, we were able to ask really open and honest questions. And we discovered that many, many sectors of the journey from education through more education to the workplace. There were lots and lots of inconsistencies and lots of uncertainty about what particular toolkit you brought with you. The traditional toolkit of the last 30 40 50 years, there’s been a number called an ATAR. Right? And that was how you were defined by your number.

Andrew: (07:30)
So for those that don’t know what an ATAR is, can you give us a, just a interview?

Tim: (07:33)
So in Australia you have a number which determines your ability to get into university, right? It was designed by the universities for the universities, high numbers getting into harder courses. We could argue about that. Won’t. Yeah, so medicine’s 99.95 you can now become a school teacher for somewhere between 50 and 60 depending on which university you go to. There’s a whole question there about the quality of teachers we’re now getting, but we’re not going to talk about that either. But education itself has become a very, very slow moving beast, right? So while the world is accelerating all around us, we’re still having to teach prescribed national curriculum and then final year curriculum in order for students to go to the next stage of their journey.

Andrew: (08:19)
And the conversation’s moved on now obviously there’s a lot of push around different skills and STEM is talked about a lot and now a bit of STEAM. And I don’t want to jump straight into the skill conversation just yet because I know we’re going to get there, but I just, I guess if we stay in that problem space, Peter, you talked about this idea of learned helplessness and I think that’s a really interesting place to go next. In the conversation. Tim had mentioned again before the interview that the tools that we have, the digital tools in particular are becoming more complex, but the tasks that we want to achieve are still simple. So how do we get to this understanding of, of learned helplessness. What that means

Peter: (08:56)
It’s one of the common threads that came up in the first round tables and it was, it’s just this observation that we discovered what we called The Beer Problem I think in the Geelong round table where we had a, as a bloke from industry, you run into small to medium business and he says what he found frustrating was you’d hire new graduates and they’re really good quite skilled for people and you know, you think they’re going to change the world and you give them, you know, you get to Friday and you want to have a moment to reflect and so you tell them, you know, 50 bucks, beer and nibbles and you’ll meet the team and we’ll talk about the weekend. It’d be awesome. You think about that. That’s very poorly specified problem. It’s very open. You haven’t been clear but you’ll get beer and nibbles problems.

Peter: (09:35)
The problem has gone much a hand over the 50 bucks cause they’ll spend all the $50 and beer and nibbles will happen.

Andrew: (09:40)
You’re not likely to just get $50 worth and gummy bears.

Peter: (09:43)
No, no. You’ll get beer and you’ll get nibbles. You might not get your favourite beer and maybe your favuorite nibbles cause you didn’t specify. Sure, but it’s the problem goes away. Yep. But if you asked that same individual, something that’s related to digital technology that you think they should be able to do. I think one of the reports we just had the simple example of you’ve got a Wiki as your intranet and your said can you please create a page for your project and because they didn’t know those particular tools using that particular way because they’ve got this lived experience with digital technology is if you use the tool in the wrong way you might break it or even brick it so it never works again because it fails and disastrous ways. You’ve been taught that if you don’t know exactly how to solve the problem, then don’t solve it. You’ve got to get someone to teach you. So you’ve learned to be helpless And what you find is you might have someone who, who has a low skills, they know a lot of skills, digital skills, and you move them to a new context and they’ve got what you might call a lot of unknown knowns. They know skills, but they don’t know that they can apply them. So the learned helplessness kicks in and they go, well, I don’t how to do this.

Andrew: (10:45)
They may even know how to do it, but they don’t even, they don’t even start, they’re overwhelmed.

Peter: (10:50)
So they know how to do a lot of things, but they don’t know when they should apply them in this new context,

Andrew: (10:56)
Especially with that fear factor of, will I break it? Will I do something wrong? You can’t really break it if you go and get some booze and pretzels. That’s the worst thing that could happen there is you don’t cater for the gluten free person or you step on someone’s toes in some other way.

Peter: (11:07)
Think phones, you’re the master of the iPhone. The one button hasn’t driven you to nuts and, and you get given a new iPhone for your birthday, it doesn’t have a button and you open it. You just don’t know you, you know that you’ve got a pin and you’ve got to have opinion. You know, all the mechanics of it how to enter a pin. But how you read the devices changed in a small but significant way, which means you can navigate it anymore and they don’t give you any hints. You know, they’ve kind of got to teach you. And you think that’s the same as going to a new office and a new job and you’ve got to enter an invoice. and they’ve got exactly the same invoicing system. They’re both using SAP, but they’ve been configured slightly differently with different labels and stuff. And so you have no idea what to type in the things. And because the systems such a helpful interface, you have no way of discovering what to type in the things. Yes. And you don’t want to type the wrong thing in because that would be bad. So you just can’t do anything. Yeah. And so you get this learned helplessness everywhere.

Andrew: (12:06)
It strikes me as a couple of things there. There’s the pace of change, things moving so quickly, buttons disappearing and moving, et cetera. But then there’s also the complexity of the tools, which is what Tim mentioned as well.

Tim: (12:16)
Absolutely. So it was interesting the night after the beer problem that we had in Geelong, I went home and my daughter was in grade three. They apparently in grade three students now need to have digital devices. Right. And so the school made a decision that they would buy a particular digital device. Rather the parents would buy a particular digital device. And my daughter in grade three who is seven or eight years old at the time, proudly comes home and says, dad, look at what I’ve got. And I said, what are you going to use that for? She said, all of my friends are playing games. I said, great. What did the teachers say that you should be using it for? She said, I should be using it for learning. I said, great, what are you going to learn from that? She said, how to play games. I said, that’s great, but what about the other stuff too?

Tim: (13:08)
And a few weeks later I was having a chat to Peter on the phone and I actually went home and the moment these these digital tools were called devices, it implies more complexity. So I actually went to my daughter and I put down a saw, a screwdriver and her tablet. I said, tell me what each of those things do. So, and I said, what would happen if I tried to actually use the saw to put a screw in? She said, well, that wouldn’t be a very good use of the tool. I said, okay. So and she got the plan very quickly. I said, so now with your computer, what are, what are the tools for? And now we actually have a conversation in our house about what is the tool you’re using tonight? I don’t care if it’s a software tool or whatever it is. What did the tool, what is the purpose, what is the outcome?

Tim: (13:57)
That’s been a long frustrating process in the home, but it’s actually the process that schools are having to go through because the every device coming into a school, every device coming into into a business is chock-a-block full of toys. It’s chockablock full of stuff that may or may not be relevant. And this is why discernment is incredibly important and we’ll come around to this a little bit later. What is the tool that I need? Why do I need it? What is the purpose for which it is needed and is it in fact the best tool for the job in this particular context? And that’s the start of your educational journey in terms of attitudes and that will then go out throughout your entire life.

Andrew: (14:39)
That’s really interesting that you talk about students or children in grade three getting a device like a tablet, and I mean there’s this concept of the digital native that gets talked about a lot. I think it’s fascinating. You see little videos on Facebook of babies with a magazine in front of them and they’re touching on the screen and they’re trying to move things around and interact with the magazine they don’t understand why this iPad is broken or why this tablet is broken and it frustrates them. So it’s, it’s fascinating that this, this, this idea that this problem is going to go away because the babies are born with tablets in hand.

Tim: (15:12)
And also, if the parents have a fear or a helplessness as we describe it about how to use a particular tool, they also don’t see which aspects of the tool the children necessarily aren’t using as well.

Andrew: (15:27)
Hmm. This is true.

Tim: (15:28)
And as they become, and as the devices become more and more complex, any single person’s ability to know exactly what any tool is particularly capable of is becoming quite difficult.

Andrew: (15:40)
Mmm. Well one of the fascinating things I took away from the paper was this idea that sure there are some aspects of these devices that children are becoming capable with at an early age, but it doesn’t always translate into digital competency or digital agency. I think is probably the term that you’re using in the paper to represent that final outcome of being the most productive that you can be with the tools in practical applications. So when I talk about this idea of the digital native, what does that mean to you?

Peter: (16:13)
Well, it’s someone who’s familiar with technology because they’ve grown up with technology, but it doesn’t mean they’ve actually got much of a clue about how to use it. I’ve always found it amusing, when you see the little YouTube about the kid thinking the paper’s a tablet. And it’s, it’s the adults who are reading too much into that cause they’re looking at it saying, I had to learn how to use a tablet as an adult. So I had to sit there and look stupid about poking it and stuff and I felt like a fool. And you kid had to do that too. They just did it when they were really young. They haven’t, they’re not necessarily more sophisticated with it. But what you also find is that there’s this if phenomenon of illusionary depth and it came in in um, social networks initially where if you knew an expert in a subject, you had this weird illusion that you knew more about the subject than you did cause you would kind of assume that you have their knowledge.

Peter: (17:01)
This is one of these, this is a well-researched area. And you see the same thing with, with digital technology with, because someone’s grown up with the technology. So they’ve had an iPad since they were very young. They’re very, very comfortable with an iPad and they feel that they use it in a very sophisticated way because they know they chat to all their friends and, and you know, it’s an intimate part of their lives. They assume that because they have this relationship with it. They have a very sophisticated understanding. But what you find is if you move them, move the context, they’re in slightly. They actually don’t, they know how to use particular tools in particular ways, but they can navigate the general digital landscape. And so they might feel like a native, but they might necessarily be competent in using any other domains.

Andrew: (17:43)
So being a digital native isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and essentially this problem’s not going because just being digital native isn’t enough.

Tim: (17:52)
I think of a digital native more like the environment that the cultures, for instance, in the Pacific prior to Western imperialism, they were digital natives. They knew exactly how to use particular tools for purpose. They were not the same tools that water them from the Europeans, but they had a really bunch of a good bunch of really useful tools which works particularly well in their context and were able to problem solve and critically think and all of those things within their context with the tools that they’ve developed over time. Then all of a sudden a bunch of Western has arrived and they’ve got different tools and some of the tools were used correctly as perceived by the Westerners some incorrectly. I remember when I first had a, I went to the library and I saw an Oxford dictionary and a Webster’s dictionary and I couldn’t understand why there would be two dictionaries because dictionaries were just in words and it was like the Apple map problem. The Webster had American spelling and the Oxford had English spelling. I didn’t know why. I just use that particular tool at the time for what I needed. And that’s a very simple example. But now things are just becoming more complex and I think we make presumptions that kids have more knowledge and skills than in fact they do.

Peter: (19:13)
Yeah. And that was a brilliant um, paper. It was mainly focused on maps using digital technology and maths. And it made this great point that we seem to be entering in a period where it seems to be more important to know when and why to use the tool then how to use the tool and you think about that so that this actually had evidence behind it. But even intuitively you go, well in the world of wire member working Google, if I know I want to use a tool that a particular way, I can always go to YouTube and be shown how to use it. So I don’t need to internalize all the, how I can use YouTube as my external memory. But the thing that I can’t avoid is I’ve got to know when and why I’ve, I’ve, I’ve gotta be able to discern in the environment there’s an opportunity to use this tool and how I might use it and the benefits of using it and the problems of using it. Then the how I can either learn on demand or outsource effectively by getting someone else to do it for me.

Andrew: (20:03)
Right? Because I think the conversation today has been very much a focus on the skills gap. Well, if they know how to use this part of it very well, let’s just, and, and the, the landscape keeps changing. The pace of change increases. We just need to keep teaching new skills, right? We just need to keep, uh, keep teaching people how to do the new things that come along. But I hear what you’re saying is the skills gap is not really, it’s not really as important as it’s cracked up. To me

Peter: (20:26)
it’s a nuanced question. If, um, there’s clearly a skills gap because we always have things changing and we always have um, learning new skills to keep up and there’s, this has been a natural part of life since forever. It’s something we do. The reason there’s perception of a growing skills gap might be it’s not totally that that’s true. I mean we can measure it something that looks like your growing skills gap, but is what we’re measuring a faster churn if pace of churn in the skills or is it a divergence between the environment? We’re expecting to find ourselves into the one we actually do as cause. The, the, the problem we have at the moment is not that we have all these tools and virtuous as the fact that the environment’s gone from an analog environment with a few digital tools that you use. You know, we know how to use to an environment that is defined by digital tools.

Peter: (21:12)
Yes. And learned helpless to smart an emergence in this new digital environment, this digital workplace. Because we’re not, students aren’t learning how to read the environment, how to understand what are the opportunities and the problems and how to define problems and then you know, they’re not learning the when and why they’re focusing on the, how, the focusing on the house fine. When there’s only a small number of digital tools, you’ve got to add a number, there’s a calculator. Off you go. It’s not as helpful when the bigger problem is understanding what tools might listen. This, this really rich environment. Yes, it also me. So it also means that the students need to understand what’s behind the curtain or what’s behind the magic box rather than just using the magic box. Not so much understand how it works, but to have a, a mental model that helps them understand how it affects the world.

Peter: (22:01)
It’s such a, it’s like, um, cars might, you know, if you have a motor car, none of us really understand how much, how it works. It’s got computers in the hands of lines of code in your average and you push the accelerator these days. There’s no wire you going into a throttle. It’s all, it all does its magic under the hood. But you do have a very simple navigable, consistent mental model about I push the accelerator which lets you engage with it. And so you need to understand maybe not in those that have a more sophisticated mental model, they can get more out of the machines. They know some of the more sophisticated interactions between components, but they still don’t understand the millions of lines of code. And you never will. I mean just, it’s just uh, our solutions are so complicated and no one understands the entire solution.

Peter: (22:43)
But being able to come out at a high level and understand why the solutions there and what are the boundaries to it and the effect it’s having. And one of the examples we use, we’ve used a lot is that the idea of elections, because you have this meme in in society that the why on earth haven’t we made elections completely digital because elections is voting and voting is about counting and counting is good for computers. So let’s have voting machines in internet voting and make it convenient and move on. But if you actually look at the literature, particularly the computer security literary about elections, they say, well, elections isn’t so much about counting votes. There’s a cut. You know, elections is more about proving to the losers that they lost. That’s the really important thing. So you’ve got the situation where you want to, you want people to be able to vote, you want them to vote anonymously so they can’t sell their vote.

Peter: (23:28)
You need to make sure they only vote once, so they have to identify themselves and you need to be able to prove to the losers that they lost. And it’s those requirements, which means maybe you don’t want digital voting and the gold standard still is make a Mark on a piece of paper and you might then scan it and use digital computers to do the counting and all the efficiency. But the making the Mark of the piece of paper means I can, I can make a Mark, I can check it’s the right market and put the Mark in the box. So you know I voted and you’ve got my vote but you don’t, you can’t associate so I can’t sell my vote. The person who lost can then get all the boxes, open them all up and count all the votes. This is what scrutineering is.

Peter: (24:05)
And so it meets that requirement as well. Whereas if you have a completely digital system and you push on the touch button for you know, Trump, how do you know that you’ve actually just voted for Trump? And the answer is, well you don’t could have been hacked if it’s been hacked. How do we find out? But we don’t know cause it’s just the line of the database in this really rich digital environment. We have, there’s lots of opportunities, but if you can’t understand at a high level the when and the why, then you end up finding that you, you don’t have agency.

Andrew: (24:34)
This raises a few problems for me. I know electoral commissions around the world have been struggling with this particular issue and so stuff I can recap some of the problems that we’re facing there. It’s uh, even when people know the, how, they don’t always succeed. They struggle. Sometimes they put innovation in place for the sake of putting innovation in place, but it’s not actually appropriate and it doesn’t meet the outcomes or the, the initial objectives.

Peter: (24:58)
Well, one of the things we discovered in the latest report or we realized that the latest report is when you start breaking up kind of the drivers in this space, that there’s actually two negative effects of not having enough agents. You know, having an appropriately, if you don’t have the discernment to read the environment, you’ll do something that’s, that’s not productive. If you don’t focus on the technology. If you’re the digital native on university things in certain ways you see learned helplessness emerge because you don’t know what to do if you’re a digital evangelist, which is the other thing we coined and you love the technology but you ministry the environment you could do something

Andrew: (25:29)
can destructive cause you put technology where it’s not appropriate [inaudible] so it’s like it’s actually more to it than just just learn helplessness. It’s a lot of really good insights in the paper and some frameworks like the four different types of digital work or that you sort of touched on there Peter, and we probably won’t have time to dig into those in depth today, but definitely go and check out the paper and read through that because there’s lots of really interesting stuff in there.

Tim: (25:52)
Interesting. At the moment, if you look at what’s happening in Hong Kong with the protests, the problem of identifying citizenry was sold through digital technologies so that there are cameras on lots of poles. They’re doing all that stuff. The analog solution of the protesters was to initially wear masks. Then they were able to use facial recognition software. So now that the, um, now the protesters are under umbrellas, that also proved that they couldn’t be identified. And so the Chinese, the, the Hong Kong government has come up with a solution, which is to actually spray die. So the solution to a digital problem was an analog solution from both parties in what is an increasingly complex world. The idea is that we now know who you are wherever you can go by tracking you digitally. No, we can spray you with blue. So if you look like a Smith in [inaudible], you’re probably at the protest.

Tim: (26:48)
Wow. But that just shows, I think coming back to how we actually acquire information and use information. How do you know what is true and what is not true? That used to be a philosophical question. Now it’s the digital question because the way that you access information to convert, so the idea is that the first thing you do is you, you know something, then you understand something, then you can apply something. If what you know is false, then when you try and apply that it doesn’t work. And so we’re fighting that with the education system. Students are swamped by words and images, but their ability to, and I don’t want to use the word decode because that’s not a good word to use, but the ability to discern what is truth, what is fiction, what has been manipulated. Those questions are incredibly important. And it’s why I believe that we’ve talked a lot about literacy and numeracy scores declining as apparently digital literacy scores are rising. In fact, I would argue the opposite. I would say that that we actually now need to have literacy in higher levels than we ever have before. Because the skill of discernment is what determines truth from fiction. And, and if a society becomes ultimately gullible because they lack the ability for discernment, then we run the risk of a society, which becomes very stupid in date. Wow.

Peter: (28:28)
Mean it’s, it’s a question of balance too. It’s one of the things we, we, um, I can’t wait convinced from this project is it’s not about, um, the technology being bad or anything. I mean, there’s a great quote by a historian who’s actually passed away now called Melvin Kranzberg. I think it is and he points out that technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral. You know, um, it’s how you use it that matters. And he or he uses examples like, um, DDT where the West hated it cause it caused [inaudible] or D defects. India loved it because malaria is a bigger problem. And so for them it was a force for good for, for us it was a force for bad. And you look at like even that simple idea of why remember walking Google and people would get this, this existential angst, the, the, they’ve got to rely on Google to remember something and you think about, well that’s not really much different to a posting, right?

Peter: (29:14)
I mean w w w we’ve used environment to remember things for us for fountains of years. I mean some, eh, the, the Aboriginal Australian song lines are a great example of that, of how they use the song interacting with the environment to help them navigate the environment. So there’s nothing wrong with using Google cause it’s just part of our environment. The trick is to do it in a way that’s productive. And then of course you get the challenge of illusionary depth where we shoot it because we’ve Googled something. We know it. And so how do we make kids aware that you Googled something so you know something of something and you’re aware you were aware of it but you don’t know it. You’ve got to have a little bit of skepticism about your knowledge. So this is not about teaching them how to think critically and inspecting information online because they’re not actively going out and looking for it. It’s not about teaching them how to search of this association. It’s helping them adopt the attitude of, Google’s may be aware of many things, but I’m only aware of them. Um, they’re not necessarily true or they’re not necessarily, you know, if I really want to rely on it, then I, I’ve got to go and look at it to, to, to understand it cause I don’t understand it.

Andrew: (30:15)
Well, so much of what’s online is biased by the fact that it’s one company promoting their approach or their solution or their product. And then there’s the media and the whole range of politics and, and, and financial interests and all the other things that can influence that. So I think, I think if I can summarize, we’ve really been talking about, well what should we focus on then if it’s not about the skills gap per se, if it’s not about just learning more how, and it’s this idea of discernment, knowing the when and the why to use which tools for that positive net value. So that rather than using a tool that could cause more problems than it solves for example. And then we started to shift into this idea of, well how do we get that discernment? And I know in the paper it talks about this idea of attitudes and behaviors and in particular focused on three different phases.

Andrew: (31:01)
So before doing the work, during the work and after doing the work, and what I really love about the conversation we’re having is we’re getting some real depth and richness that I didn’t get out of the paper as well. So there’s really added value here. Go and read the paper and then come back and listen again because you’ll get the next layer down. So I might just prompt and summarize around those three again. So you talked about uh, some of these different attitudes and behaviors before doing the work, being about curating a library of options of what tools and solutions might be out there, when to use them and why. And it sounds like a really important part of that is this discernment again around, well, what is true and what is valuable? What am I researching for my curated lists that I will actually include as a trusted part of my list?

Andrew: (31:46)
And maybe I need to experiment with that. And during the work is where that experimentation happens and that discernment really kicks in to pick the right tool for this particular job with this particular context. And then after doing the work, it’s about these attitudes and behaviors around reflection and learning that double and even triple loop learning to sort of bring back into your curated list of options to confirm, yes, this is a solution that will work again in future in a similar situation or maybe I won’t use this one again in future or maybe I’ll use it in a different scenario. So I mean is that a fair sort of summary of, of of some of the recommendations

Tim: (32:23)
and that’s absolutely true. Whether it’s you doing this project to make this podcast us doing a project which is a group of round tables to look at the future of digital competencies or a school student who’s got to do a project. So essentially levels, absolutely the processes are the same. There is something that I have to do. I need to work out the best way for me to do it in the best way possible. And then I have to, and I think this is the big shift, we’d must be more active learners because I’ve learned something once I’ve curated that learning. But my situation may be different in five or 10 minutes. And interestingly in schools this is happening because you go from class to class to class. The problem is that students think that English, maths and French have nothing in common. Whereas they have learning in common, they have attitudes and behaviors in common. And if you can understand critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and problem posing in one context, then you can transfer that to another context, which is in fact what the real workplace is all about. Your constantly, your, your knowledge, your suitcase of knowledge that Peter talks about it. Instead of us filling it with uncertainties, we actually now have to fill it with attitudes and skills that we can transport from one context to the other.

Peter: (33:50)
Yup. Good provisional knowledge. Um, there’s a great metaphor of, of if you’re building a library, those one of Tillie’s books, he talks about how um, a better worker would have visitors to his office. He’s got a library in his office and his business would look at at the library and you know, some better Waco who’s, you know, brilliant semiotician and so on. And they say, Oh prof echo, you must be so smart. She know everything and all these books and better with her. We always point out the, the, think about the problem the wrong way. He doesn’t know what’s in the books because if he knew it was in the books while we have the books, this is a library full of things that he might want to know in the future. And we latched onto that and fought well. So if you’re thinking about something like I’m thinking about wiring, remember what can you Google.

Peter: (34:29)
The problem you have here is, is not knowing how to Google, you know how to take your question and try to quit search, query and drive. Google. We’ve talked to everyone that the problem, the thing that causes load helplessness or the reason that you can’t use Google in your current work cause you don’t have any questions to use or strategies to use to drive Google. So where do they come from? Well, what you want is a library. You had a library of things that you might want to know about and strategies you might use for Google. So you’ve got to build the library. So before the work you’ve got to invest some time in building that library. So what do you do? It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it’s a collection of stuff that, um, works for you. You might watch Ted talks, free books, talk to friends, and you’ve got to be on the lookout.

Peter: (35:08)
And that’s where that attitude comes in, right? Yeah. So yeah, we break this down and said, so you must have an attitude that before the work, I’m going to invest some time and looking for things to populate my library with then. But you’ve got to realize that attitude, you’ve got to realize the value there. So you need behaviors and the behaviors of the divergent thing where watch Ted talk at lunch, watch podcasts, you know, read podcast in, sorry, listened to podcast in car. It doesn’t matter what you do in that collection of behavior, as long as collectively they populate your library when you’re the work. If you’re going to use Google, you’ve got to step out and say, well, Google could could work for me. So you’ve got it. You’ve got to have an attitude of, well, I’ll consider different ways of doing this or when I’m stuck I might do it.

Peter: (35:48)
And then you could have a set of behaviors that they deploy it while you’re working and then after work you need to cure rates. You need to take some time and say that lean method, method, methodology thing. I gave it a go, I think I got it right, it didn’t work. Did it? Did it not work and I should get rid of it? Or is it something that, you know, can I improve what’s in my library? And you need that, that whole package to work. And so we end up calling that a predilection saying, well, a predilection is a collection of attitudes of behaviors. We have some attitude and behaviors before some joint and some after and predilections. Then how do you engage with digital technology of a certain type in the workplace? And you might have a predilection around online collaboration where you know before the work you’re learning about different strategies and different tool preferences. When you start the work you are negotiating with the other people to try and work out how, how are you going to use the tools, the curations again, the reflection. And so what you want to be, have digital agency be productive is to have these attitudes, maintenance, collection, predilections that mean that you can engage with the work and the workplace and the work and not just knowing how to do a bunch of stuff.

Andrew: (36:54)
Nice. I love that. So what can we do practically then to end up with employees or end up with ourselves as employees depending on our perspective or or for the, for the students that are coming up through the ranks that will enter the workforce, what can we actually practically do to, to make sure they have these predilections, these attitudes, these behaviors. So maybe, maybe let’s start with from the education perspective, what, what sort of curriculum or activities should schools be considering to prepare young people for the workforce of the future?

Tim: (37:27)
I think one of the mistakes that’s been made over the last few years, as Peter said, it’s a skills gap. Therefore we need to fix it with skills. Therefore we need to cut back the curriculum and provide time for skills to be taking place of the curriculum. The problem is by the time that process has been designed and implemented, those skills which were perceived to be necessary five years previously are redundant. So therefore our view that we’re developing is that you actually embed attitudes within the education process school for at least the foreseeable future will be a series of subjects delivered in a [inaudible] room, usually a classroom over a particular period of time to shift. That is an enormous job that no country in the world has managed to do because it’s just too big. What you can do though is you can actually educate students about attitudes.

Tim: (38:21)
What does it mean to be curious, but what does it mean to be curious in French as opposed to being curious in chemistry? What does it mean to have resilience in sport? What does it mean to have resilience when you’re writing a history essay? So in other words they’re dealing with the concepts that lie behind education rather than the content base itself. The content has got to be there because you have to know stuff. Having to know stuff is important. What you do with what you know is more important. Knowing the why and how and when of the correct context in what you do is the most important of all and that is something which skills can build over time.

Andrew: (39:03)
There has been this shift to more skills based and more formalized learning and from an earlier a younger age. I know my sister does a lot of work in the early childhood space. She’s really passionate about play based learning and unfortunately it seems like that and certainly in the Australian context is being reduced in favor of more formal education at a younger age. And it strikes me that this model is very experimental. It’s very play-based. You’ve got that double, triple loop learning where you are learning from exploration and trying different bits and pieces.

Tim: (39:36)
There’s a couple of points about that. Playing usually involves games. Games have rules. If you learn to play within the rules, you learn how to be better at the game, right, but it’s not just knowing the rules that makes you better. It’s the experience of playing it. It’s the collaborative skills you have with those around you in the game. Yes, it’s the critical analysis. You do have that part of the game to show that if you’re in this position, you’re more likely to do better. It’s not just, I think play has a bit of a bad name. Play implies a bunch of random things happening in the playground, but if you actually look at play in schools is actually incredibly highly structured by the students. They construct their own rules, they do all of these things and they operate within these dynamic systems. Play based learning done properly is extremely efficient and effective. What you’re talking about is the

Andrew: (40:27)
and quite open-ended at that early.

Tim: (40:29)
Absolutely open-ended, but the reality is if your boss asks you to do something in the workplace, you have to do it within the timeframe and the budget. So gaming the system by this academic cramming. So this is what I call death by Piza, right? We now have standardized national tests that all countries who are interested in it do. I’m not saying all countries do it, it’s the countries who are interested. It’s the schools who are interested and should get a big number. It means that you’re smarter. Unfortunately, the problem the universities are having is that a lot of students with very high eight ours are unable to cope with university because it’s too open ended and so we have this conflict at the moment between what we know as the open-ended world of junior school and adolescents. That then shifts towards a number based focus leading towards the end of your high school and going into university. Our view is that you can actually have the attitudes developing right up until the time you do 12 you then play the numbers game, which is what you have to do, but then once you get through that I have the needle. Then all of the experiences and attitudes that you bring with you should be portable and that’s why it’s possible to develop attitudes, behaviors, predictions and discernment within the existing education framework. Plus this sort of the sort of attitudes actually improve academic results.

Peter: (42:00)
So it’s good that it starts a little bit more open-ended, absolutely experimental and then becomes very structured through the later years of school. Absolutely, and then it becomes very open-ended again as soon as you enter the workforce. It’s also when you start looking at the nature of the modern workplace, you start, it leads you to ask some really kind of disruptive questions. It’s like at the moment we tend to phrase education is in terms of how much the students need to know and the skills gap sort of comes from this idea that they don’t know enough. But when you realize that there’s no such thing as solo working more, you always working the team, we’re building it. We’re not one of the partners, he’s got this wonderful phrase called building the Peloton and his argument is that um, when you’re hiring someone now you’re not hiring the individual based on their, their, the knowledge and skills. You’re hiring someone because they compliment the team, they bring something to the team and you think about it. It’s a bit like that where maybe we can Google so that it’s no longer how much, you know, it’s how little do you need to know, right? Because it’s knowing of can often be enough. It’s, it’s how good are you at navigating the digital landscape? If you’re a member of a team, then if you know the when and the why of the skill and someone else has it, then the team’s good. We’ll

Tim: (43:10)
give you a good example of that. So currently there when a few years ago at the place that I worked, there was a belief that that the only way to do year 12 was to manfully struggle or woman fully struggle as an independent person locked in a room by herself. Now in the environment in which I operate in terms of education, we actually have collaborative homework and we have collaborative exam preparation and we have students who the night before exams sit in a room and a group of six and I say if there were, if there was one of you in the room, what Mark do you think you would get in the test? If there were two of you in the room, what Mark do you think you would get in the test? And they seem to think that having between four and five students in a room means that between them they’d get a hundred percent great. Utilize that skill of collaboration, right? An exam question that you thought would be in tomorrow’s paper. And so the students are actually doing this on a weekly basis and their marks are going up, not because they’re smarter, because they’re better at collaborating because the collaboration involves communication between students at their own level. They’re then able to articulate their understandings more efficiently and effectively than a teacher and more efficiently than effective that effectively than a YouTube clip. Wow. So it’s that human skill of collaboration, which Peter says is the future of work.

Peter: (44:32)
Embedding that within the education system earlier is very possible, very practical, and is in fact what they need to be doing for the rest of their lives. Being aware that you’re doing this in in an environment is moral as defined by the digital tools. You don’t work in a room with the team anymore. You have people over different media with different cultural and tool preferences that you have to, you have to be effective. So it’s how do I navigate that environment? How do I reach out and grab the knowledge and skills I need just in time so that I’m effective? So you end up asking, how little do I need to know? And you still need to know stuff. You clearly need to know enough when you’re working in a domain to be actually to understand the domain. Um, but you don’t need to be the expert who has the most, we have this, this habit of we create these scales, we measure things, and we assume that more is better. And, and you could argue that one of the reasons we’re scared about the skills gap is because we think we need more where it’s actually maybe what we need is different.

Andrew: (45:28)
Mm. So there’s, there’s lots of things there. There’s a, there’s three in particular that I’ve, that I’ve summarized from our discussion so far. There’s those metacognitive skills around, uh, learning how to learn and, uh, the discernment around which, which tools to use and when and why. And then there’s the soft skills around that collaboration. And then there’s the attitudes that ultimately drive the behaviors. So what about in the workplace? What should workplaces and employers be doing to encourage and support employees to gain this digital agency to, to gain those things?

Peter: (46:01)
Oh, there’s a whole bunch of stuff. I mean you can start from the really practical, one of the suggestions we had from a recent workshop, we were in the low, the last round, we had a group of HR people in the room and they said they actually did, they came to the conclusion that, so if we’re talking about digital agency, we’re talking about the ability to gauge with the workplace. The problem they have is when someone is hard and enters their workplace, it’s a different workplace. It’s a different context. So their agency has gone down because it’s not as familiar to them. It’s like, you know, I think we mentioned before, you know, they might know how to invoice but they don’t know how to do one of your invoices because the system is a bit quirky and it’s, yeah. And so they, they struggled to engage with it.

Peter: (46:38)
So could you quickly survey them or test them on key points and say, well what kind of you look like? Or what are you familiar with from what do you know how to do and can I help you take those? What in our environment will be unknown knowns and connect them so that you know how to do these things. And that’s a heavy handed approach, but it could work. A nicer approach is then to realize that you need to help your staff navigate your systems. So if you had that, that that Wiki is an intranet and you were asking that new graduate to go and create a project page, what if there was an obvious button at the top that says this is how to create a project page and it gives you not a big training video, but if you really know how to do this, these are the three things you need to know.

Peter: (47:19)
Off you go. They look like this, push this button and it works this way. And by the way, if you need to be training video, here it is so they can teach themselves just in time. The more important was to actually engage with the idea of digital agency and say, I want my work is to be able to have you navigate this digital environment. So I need to stop closing down the environment saying there is one way of doing something and you’re going to get punished if you do it the wrong way. Can I open up the tasks that I’m giving them and let them have some autonomy in how they go about approaching it? Can I make sure that they have the tools to learn the stuff just in the main, when they think needed to learn? Can I create a safe, um, sort of cultural environment where they feel that it’s okay to say, I don’t know how to do it in this instance? And go and ask your friend or explore so that they can, they can learn, not only learn how to navigate it, but they can never get it the most effective way for them.

Tim: (48:13)
And that goes back to what is the environment in which digital capacities can be enhanced and developed. It has to be a social and a physical environment in which the employee or the student feels that they have the autonomy to ask questions no matter what the level of question. Because the thing that we discovered is that people have all from, from the digital naive, which is a term that we’ve used, who is someone who is completely naive about these things and just treats themselves almost as a victim of technology. Um, we all have parts of our lives where that is true. We also have parts in which we have incredible levels of digital competency in discernment and autonomy and could make moral highly moral decisions. It’s learning that it’s okay to start as an IEF and develop yourself through over a period of time rather than, than it’s a deal breaker because we invoiced this way and you know how to invoice that way

Peter: (49:14)
and if you get it wrong, which I’ve told you to do, you’ll get yelled at. Yeah. Because that breeds that, that sort of place where unconscious avoidance can kick in. People do have that learned helplessness.

Tim: (49:25)
I think one of the best things we did was these ethnographic dramas that we did during the course of the project and part of it was actually looking at asking people to look at what was their digital world like five years previously. What would the devices they were using, what were the software programs they were using, what were the contexts in which they were using digital tools? And even going back five years, people were quite shocked by, and we make, we mentioned this in the beginning of the uh, one of the reports that one of the reports that if you look about when was the first text sent, when was the first mobile phone use? When did, when did mobile phone use exceed 90% of the population? These things are very, very recent. Wow. Within our, within our societal consciousness. Yes. These things are very recent and to expect us to keep up within that pace of change was sort of a ridiculous XP Tyson.

Peter: (50:25)
I guess one of the things that came of I think one at the Melbourne, the Melbourne workshop recently was one of the, one of our human capital partners pointed out that you were shown that what happens with this churn of digital technology is that your old skills are made redundant and you have to learn new skills. And really what happens is you’ll always learning new skills all the time. That’s not the way knowledge works. And while I was digging around, there’s a great book called learning by doing by Besson. And he points out that if you look through the industrial revolution, most of the knowledge you’ve learned and you don’t learn by top down instruction. So lifelong learning where you go back for periodic or instruction, it’s more by peer transmission you have within the community. So your skills don’t have road, they just evolve.

Peter: (51:08)
So if you’re given an Android phone in the workplace and you’ve always had a, an Apple and you can’t log in, it’s learned helplessness is, is, um, not knowing what to do. Digital agency is just going along. I know it’s different. I don’t know. I can do this sign that’s going do all the same things and you’ve got one, how do I do that? And, and just getting on with it. And it’s having that confidence, that ability to navigate, you know, realize your context is changed and doing something about it. So again, that soft skills, it’s all, so it’s culture. It is, I hate the term soft skills, right? To let you know because there’s nothing soft about them. Yes, there is nothing soft about human relationships. There is nothing soft about human interactions. There is nothing soft about knowing that I’ve got a digital problem, but I need an analog tool.

Peter: (51:54)
And if that analog tool is a human conversation on a piece of paper that is still solving the digital problem. Absolutely. So I think that for me that’s a missed, that’s, that’s one of those words that really pushes my buttons. That will, because they’re not soft, they’re, they’re implied because they’re not using hardware. That’s it. But then they are actually using the hard wiring of human relationships. They’re not technology centric, which is probably who I’m putting in. Certainly in the tech space, we tend to think hardware first, not wet wear. So. Correct. Whereas you look at the, um, I mean the, the key behind all that, this entire project was that, that realization that it’s about, it’s your ability to really to read the environment and make, you know, pointed insights, insights, your decisions about what you’re going to do and the impact that determines how effective you are.

Peter: (52:42)
And that’s not a technology problem and that’s not a hard skills problem is that say an X. It’s more about experience and judgment and it’s also, it’s acknowledging that this is kind of the intersection of work worker and workplaces. It’s doesn’t matter what skills you’ve given them and done yet what the workplace, it’s about bringing all three together and it was interesting for us that the process that we used was a problem solving methodology that was conducted on paper, right? Where we actually said, what are the results that we want? We want an understanding of digital agency. What is the investigative process we’re going to use? It’s a collaborative problem solving methodology where people were changing roles over time. What the attitudes and

Tim: (53:26)
behaviors that we wanted the people to demonstrate during that. We wanted them to be open minded. We wanted them to be curious. We wanted them to show resilience and what was the environment, the physical and social environment that we constructed in order for this to happen. Pins. That was essentially a human process because it was a human process that was needed to look at the future of digital competencies. Fantastic. I’ve just got one more question, which is what can we as individuals do to increase that digital agency?

Peter: (53:58)
Probably awareness. I mean it’s, it’s the most powerful thing is being aware that when you find yourself confused by the environment or unable to act or what, it’s realizing that it’s not sufficient. Don’t have the skills. It’s just because you’re not in the usual con context. You find yourself, you’re in something different and then having some strategies to help you start understanding and navigating it rather than getting your Android phone and just poking and going, I’ve got, I don’t know how to make this work. It’s like, well, I can do this and I, I know what, I know what the sort of tool is. I can already use a different one that works, does basically the same things. It’s really just a, what are the strategies I’m going to used to puzzle my own. My wife wrote and I’m very encouraged because my mom’s, she turned 80 this year and she’s, she’s on her own now and we’ve got her from the old date, hope he phone onto the new phone and she’s getting the new car.

Peter: (54:48)
She’s getting all set up and someone who’s 80 you can give them a, you know, a nice big Apple phone and all sudden she starts texting and using fine my family to find you, you know, and so you can adapt but it’s more about the attitude. That’s kind of the entry point. If you have, if you, if you learned helplessness as fundamentally an attitude. Did she have a fear of the technology at first then? If so, how did she overcome that? Oh, what? One of the stories that we used in the workshops was us. I was in the hospital with my mom and she wanted to bring her friends. She had a mobile phone cookie and the answer is no, she couldn’t because the way she related to a phone at that stage was phones are places. So for phones or place in line, obstacle, landline, phone.

Peter: (55:28)
So the phone numbers are in a book beside the phone at home. And so she had her mobile phone. She actually had it on, but she couldn’t ring anyone because the phone numbers were elsewhere. Yeah. And she didn’t know. They find them. It’s cause you, you only remember home phone numbers. Whereas now she’s, she’s got a phone but she doesn’t use it as a phone because she’s worked out that it’s about texting and so on. And so you can adapt and, but it’s very much, it’s very much an attitude thing because if you, if you have the, if you have that, that digital native attitude of I’m, I’m just awesome at this. You’ve got to have some humility and realize well maybe, and you also realize that when you do find yourself confused, well you do know stuff. It’s, it’s, it’s sort of finding that middle ground.

Tim: (56:10)
And so, so you need patience, perseverance, curiosity, playfulness, nice and, and an openness to new experiences. And if that’s, you treat technology,

Peter: (56:24)
what’s really interesting for me is that people don’t treat technology as if they’re at a tourist in a new country. Because when you go to a new country, you’ve got to work so many things out about it and you don’t stand there and say, Oh my God, I’m in Sweden. I don’t know what to do. People solve problems every day on an analog basis. But there’s some, it comes back to the complexity of the device and the simplicity of the task seem to bite into each other. We still wants it. Mostly simple tasks. Well, I mean one of the points Tim makes is that if you look at it a better way of considering a, a laptop or an iPhone or an iPad, it’s not at all. It’s a tool box. The tools are inside it. And so the, you know, unique, know the language of, of that toolbox to be able to navigate it and get the tools out of it.

Peter: (57:14)
And then you need to know the tools and then you need to know how to engage with the tools productively. And so the, one of the things we end up doing is there’s a lot of confusion language in this space and we ended up laying just for our project, we said what we’re going to do is we’re going to say that everyone must have digital literacy. You need to know the language of the tool box. You need to have, you need to know how if you’ve got a phone that it’s a touch interface and how to touch it and what a hamburger menu is and what you can touch it. You know, you need to know that language. You need to know how to use the tools in the toolbox that you’ve been given. So you need to know what a web app is and, and how to get to Google and how to, you know, take it a question, create a query.

Peter: (57:49)
But most importantly you need to know when and why you want to use those tools. One of the problems we have is a language problem, which we struggled for the whole project because initially we were looking at it’s digital literacy and the more you look at digital literacy you realize it’s a suitcase term that’s packed of anxieties. It’s just right. Most digital literacy definitions are just full of stuff that we think’s important that otherwise unrelated. You know, why does having two using a spreadsheet next to safe online behavior, they’re not the same things. Digital competence is kind of going the same way. We’re building these big wheels. And so we said, well digital literacy for us is going to be literacy in the old sense, which means knowledge of a language. So Spanish, and maybe it’s some of its manger works don’t kid. And we said you also need abilities.

Peter: (58:34)
So once you’ve got the language you need to how to use particular tools to solve particular problems. You know, take a question, create a query, whatever it is, and then you need your predilections. You need to know how to wrap that up and integrate that into your work habits. And you only have a productive relationship with a lump of technology when all those bits are there. If you don’t have the literacy, you can’t engage with the media and you can’t effectively engage with the workplace. If you don’t have an appropriate set of abilities, then you can’t actually engage in the work. If you don’t have the predilections, then you’re probably going to be, you know, not doing the right thing or you find yourself helpless. Yeah, so it’s really about having the package.

Andrew: (59:12)
There is a lot to it and it, it can feel overwhelming and to be fair, most listeners of this podcast will be quite comfortable with a lot of different areas of technology. But as Tim points out, we all have areas where we might be a bit naive and feel a bit overwhelmed and I see this even myself, that can become this area of even subconscious or unconscious avoidance. I’ll just steer clear of that because that’s all seems a bit hard. So I really like, I like what we’ve said about what we can do to get more digital agency for ourselves. Team in particularly, you mentioned at least have about five qualities that I think are really lovely. The first one being patients that jumped out to me and I would just add, uh, that’s not only patients with the technology and others, but it’s patients with yourself, a bit of self compassion for the fact that you know what, we don’t have to know at all already and we can explore and we’re going to ask for help and we can admit that we don’t know and go from there.

Tim: (01:00:00)
And our employers and our schools and our other education systems need to realize that this is a new world and a new world requires time. And the time taken in the learning will result in the quality of the outcomes. That has never changed. It’s also, um, it’s, it’s a social change now. I always like to point out that when we first got smartphones, you go to a dinner party and everyone was sitting there typing away in the smartphones because there was no social norm about smartphone use. And now if you go to a dinner party, everyone puts their phones down because the social norms developed at, no, it’s rude and you find a lot of, a lot of the challenge of navigating these digital environments as we, we haven’t developed all these norms yet. No. It’s why they’ve just banned school. They banned phones in primary schools in new South Wales.

Tim: (01:00:48)
Right. Because they re they realized that that at some point in time it becomes a societal problem. And I think what we’ve been trying to do is negotiate some complexities in a nuanced way that is not always done with this sort of work. There tends to be a so, so think about the negative impact of banning phones in primary schools in new South Wales. I’m sure there were students that will be suffering significantly because of that. The solution was not to educate new South Wales students in how to be appropriate usually compered to the appropriate use of phones. Yes. The quickest, most effective government solution is to ban it. Ban it out. Right. Which means you’ll have a a generation or you know, a co cohort emerging from school who will hit the workplace and won’t know the appropriate use of a whole bunch of tools because they’ve never learned, had been using them and they won’t know how to physically use the tools and they work because it’s focusing on knowledge and skill acquisition without realizing that it’s the attitudes and behaviors and how you engage with the environments. That’s one of the more important, well, it’s at least as important. Absolutely. And it’s very simple in the education sense or the workplace, here is the knowledge and skills we’re going to acquire and here are the attitudes that you need in order to develop these. That’s the sentence that could start a conversation in the school or the workplace any day, any time. It’s actually not much more complicated than that, but you’ve got to put it in. Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting that there’s a

Peter: (01:02:20)
lot of talk at the moment of we need to blow up the education system because the skills gap is growing. It’s not keeping up. Clearly education systems not fit for purpose and we need to nuke it. And one of them closes out of this is, no, we don’t actually, because we’ve got a very rich curriculum, we’ve got lots of digital stuff in there and lots of non digital stuff. There’s, there’s all sorts of things that kids could learn. So the, the, the, the knowledge and skills isn’t the problem. What we need to do is go in and tweak some stuff so that you learn how to do online, you know, and you learn all these, these, these productive, these social norms and productive behaviors. So you’re effective in the environment. So it’s, in some ways it’s a small change and that we don’t need to reinvent the curriculum. In some ways it’s a big change that we need to change how we enact the curriculum. We need to change how we take those subject definitions and actually deployed them in the work. You know,

Andrew: (01:03:06)
it’s actually changes throughout all of the different courses and parts of the [inaudible].

Peter: (01:03:10)
Correct. But it’s a, it’s a practitioner lead change. It’s not about saying the teachers must teach

Tim: (01:03:14)
differently. It’s not the content. Yeah. It’s not the content. It’s the, in my world of creativity and innovation, we talk about teaching with creativity and teaching for creativity. Predominantly the education process needs to be one which is taught with creativity, which means that you need to find creative ways to introduce attitudes into the curriculum while at the same time keeping the content knowledge as solid and consistent. You still need to know two plus two. You still need to be able to read the ways in which you can do that. Uh, infinite. And that’s, I think where education is moving to it’s own infinite toolkit of pedagogic possibilities that at the moment is better than the prescribed regurgitation of year 12.

Andrew: (01:04:07)
Nice. Well listen, thank you both for taking me through that. I think we’ve had, as I say, such a rich conversation that’s much deeper than what’s in the reports, but I really enjoy the reports as well, and I learned so much from that. Uh, is there anything else you’d like to say that we need to know about the reports before we wrap this up? Or is there, are there any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

Peter: (01:04:30)
I’d like to thank everyone who came on the journey with us. We very, we ran a very open process and I know the first round of round tables we had somewhere around 120 150 people involved and we had about a hundred [inaudible] people involved in the workshops. Um, we’ve had a huge list of education, usually people talking about the reports with us and drafts and it, we really do treat this as us facilitating the community trying to, to come together and, and realize what was going on rather than a, um, a more of an academic exercise where

Tim: (01:05:02)
we were trying to push a particular view. And I think that’s a very important point. This was a true collaborative exercise between two organizations that believe that the future of education in this country is worthy of discussion. That the future of in this country is worthy of discussion. Academics have a place and for longterm research of course consultants have a place for certain solutions in organizations. Of course the idea that an independent school and a corporate organization would collaborate purely for the benefit of society, I think tells you about where we would hope the future of this project could go. It’s about us working together collaboratively to look at how our society can work for our benefit and the benefit of our children.

Andrew: (01:05:55)
Fantastic. Sounds like a really nice collaboration, a real overlap there of complimentary skills and and expertise. Speaking of which, I’d like to say that this podcast episode is very complimentary to the report. There’s going to be things in the report you’re going to learn that didn’t come out in the podcast and vice versa. So do go and check out the report. We’ll link to it in the show notes and otherwise I would just like to thank you both. Obviously, Peter, you’ve been on the podcast before, so thank you for coming back. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you and dr Tim Paxton. What a pleasure. Thank you.

Tim: (01:06:25)
My pleasure. Thank you. Thanks for having us.

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