Prepare Students for a Globalized 2040 World

Multi ethnic students working on computers

The new generation of young adults will work in jobs that have not yet been created, and will face social challenges that we don’t yet know will arise. Many routine-type jobs will be taken over by automation and artificial intelligence in the next two decades (e.g., telemarketing, retail workers, technical writing, and legal work). These days, schools need to prepare students for a fast-changing, international, culturally diverse, interconnected and interdependent world than ever before.

Four skills to emphasize in the future: thinking, social, digital, globalIn a world of 2040, young adults will need to communicate and collaborate with people of diverse cultural origins; value different perspectives; and engage in experiences that facilitate international and intercultural relations. Young people need to leave school equipped with knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable them to learn, work and live in a globalized world and that they can develop further as they move through life. Jobs such as Global Accessibility Expert, Virtual Therapist, Alternative Currency Banker, Global Strategist, or Outsourcing Manager, will require a set of real-life skills and dispositions that enable effective communication, collaboration and creative problem-solving with people of diverse cultural origins.

More broadly, four strands of skills are emphasized (Rosen, Ferrara, & Mosharraf, in press):

  • Thinking skills refer to higher-order cognition and dispositions such as creativity, critical thinking, complex problem solving, metacognition, and learning to learn.
  • Social skills refer to attitudes and behaviors that enable successful communication and collaboration.
  • Global skills refer to skills, attitudes and behaviors that emphasize the individual’s role in, and awareness of, the local as well as the global and multicultural environment.
  • Digital skills emphasize information and digital literacies needed in the technology-rich world in which we live. While learning basic numeracy and literacy skills still is crucial to success in the job market, developing real-world skills also is essential to success in the job market and worldwide economic development.

Educational success is no longer about reproducing content knowledge, but about applying that knowledge in novel situations. Innovation today is very much dependent on the capacity of individuals and groups to question or seek to improve the accepted knowledge and practices of their time. Because that is the key differentiator, schools today need to be much more about creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and about global and digital skills that help us live and work in a globalized world.

Equipping students with sophisticated cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills require changes in instructional approaches in today’s schools, involving in-depth, differentiated content; authentic diagnostic assessment embedded in instruction; active forms of learning, often collaborative; and learning about academic subjects linked to personal passions and infused throughout life (Dede, 2014; National Research Council, 2012).

For students to be successful in life and the workplace, we need to expose them to long-term projects, help them apply knowledge to real-world problems, and ask them to use technology in ways that are more like how people use it in the real world.

In my recent blog, I wrote about one of our projects aimed to provide an opportunity for international student collaborative problem solving in science. In this project, Pearson’s Center for NextGen Learning & Assessment partnered with World ORT to develop and study a new mini-course called Animalia. The intent is to expose students to the realities of collaborating with people under unfamiliar conditions (such as different cultures, languages, and time zones) in order to solve science problems, and to foster the value of this practice. About two hundred sixty 9th grade students from schools in Italy, Spain, Israel, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria participate in this project. Students are organized into four-person international teams, and take on the roles of the scientists who could help solve Animalia’s problem. Animalia activities are provided in English, and English is spoken between partner schools. This gives students the real-world experience of collaborating with people from different cultures, with different levels of English proficiency, with different levels of science knowledge, and across time zones.

Technologies can provide powerful tools when used to enable richer learning, more powerful pedagogy and embedded assessment in support of real-world skill development. We are conducting research to explore what types of technology tools (e.g., artificial intelligence, concept maps) and technology-rich learning and assessment approaches can best promote real-world skill development in students, internationally.


We look forward to imagining the future with you during the 2015 ISTE Convention in sessions and at our booth. To let us know what you think about careers of the future, please take our short poll on our ISTE website. You can also find information about sessions we are holding and what will be happening at our booth. Or join the conversation on Twitter at #ICanImagine.



Dede, C. (2014). The role of technology in deeper learning. New York, NY: Jobs for the Future.

National Research Council (2012). Education for life and work: Developing transferable knowledge and skills in the 21st century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Rosen, Y., Ferrara, S., Mosharraf, M. (Eds.) (in press). Handbook of research on technology tools for real-world skill development. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, IGI Global


About the Author
Yigal Rosen, Ph.D.

Yigal Rosen, Ph.D.

Yigal Rosen is a Senior Research Scientist, leading the research and development of innovative computer-based learning and assessment of higher-order thinking skills. Dr. Rosen has over 10 years international experience in computer-based assessment and educational technology. His recent studies focus on developing and assessing critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills through innovative technologies in large-scale national and international programs. Prior to joining Pearson, Yigal was a Head of Assessment & Evaluation at Time To Know. He was a member of OECD’s PISA 2015 Assessment Framework Expert Group and consulted to Microsoft, Intel, ETS, Ministry of Education in Israel, and the National Authority for Measurement & Evaluation. Yigal previously held academic appointments at the University of Haifa, the Open University of Israel and Ben-Gurion University. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Haifa Faculty of Education. Yigal was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University Graduate School of Education and at Tel Aviv University School of Education. He began his career as a computer science, math and science teacher in grades 5-12.