Education has historically been what I call “Just in case education”, which gives you all kinds of facts and figures just in case it may become relevant to you. But today what we need is “just in time education,” which has three characteristics:
It never stops. It’s lifelong; you’re always learning.
It’s focused on learning how to learn and learning how to solve problems.
You learn in a variety of ways, not just in the classroom. You learn from projects, you learn from field study, you learn from interviewing experts, you learn from experiments and prototypes and in a variety of other ways.
Educational institutions need to adapt accordingly.
RM: Do you think that in the future it will still make sense to spend five to seven years earning a master’s degree or a PhD, given how quickly things are changing in the digital world?
FS: I think there will still be a need for deep specialization in certain fields. But in the course of specialization, you should pursue two objectives. First, you should acquire expertise in a certain area that you’re passionate about. But second, you should also learn how to learn – so if you find that the world has changed, or your passions have changed, the time you have spent hasn’t been wasted. And if it turns out that the area you have specialized in is still relevant to the world, –good for you.
You need to envision multiple scenarios, telling yourself, “If the world shifts like this, fine; if it doesn’t, what’s my plan B, my plan C, my plan D?” Education should set you up to be flexible rather than forcing you into a box.