Are you familiar with the 4th Industrial Revolution and how this impacts students today? No? Okay glad I wasn’t the only one. This was the theme of this year’s Consortium of School Networks (CoSN) annual conference “Exponential Change: Designing Learning in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

My curiosity was piqued by the title, as I was not familiar with the term “4th Industrial Revolution”.  Nor was I prepared for the mix of emotions- surprise, fear and excitement – I went through listening to the keynote speaker, venture capitalist- turned author and education advocate Ted Dintersmith.

My surprise came from a video that Ted played from the World Economic Forum describing how fast and pervasive the combination of components of the 4th Industrial Revolution – artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, genomics – are disrupting every industry, at every job level, and in every country.

My fear came from comments in the video and from Ted about the likely impact on jobs, from entry level through CEO.  Ted followed with stark warning that unless schools across the world fundamentally change the way they teach, the likely outcome will be widespread unemployment, worsening inequality and upheaval of social stability.

After that healthy dose of negativity, think we all left thinking the worst? Not so fast - Ted then highlighted some innovative teaching approaches being implemented around the world that combine 4th Industrial Revolution technologies and more student control.  The opportunities for human and machine collaboration to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges and create entirely new categories of business left the audience pumped up and eager to take these concepts back to their districts.

During Ted’s presentation and in many other sessions during the conference, a rich digital learning environment across all districts was identified as a key enabler to preparing students to thrive in the 4th Industrial Revolution.  And CoSN’s 2018 K-12 IT Infrastructure survey identified sufficient broadband network capacity as the number one priority for delivering a rich digital learning environment.

But many K-12 networks often struggle to meet the bandwidth-intensive applications, agility and resiliency demands of a digital curriculum.  Interested in learning what you need to do to design the highest-capacity networks for your budget dollars? Check out the “Powering 21st Century Learning” infographic below.

Powering the 21st Century infograph