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Likely impact of 4IR on Business Studies Teacher Education programmes

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There is little doubt that the curriculum for teacher education at MANCOSA will be in a constant state of change over the next three to five years as disruptive technologies gain momentum through social and business media. During the 1990’s, Professor Christensen of Harvard Business School coined the phrase ‘disruptive technology’ referring to any new technology replacing a more established technology and leading to significant disruption of a business. There are a number of ‘disruptive technologies’ which have emerged as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) movement towards change of the status quo, for example, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big-data, 3-D printing, Robotics, Block chain, Gene editing and Self-driving vehicles.

The curricula for Teacher Education programmes have not been updated as yet to cover the details of these ‘disruptive technologies’ although lecturing staff may already be alluding to these dynamic changes confronting all business sectors in South Africa. The introduction of more sophisticated technologies creates a new dilemma for entrepreneurs as greater levels of efficiency brought about by new technologies also means less hands-on employment opportunities. That is not the full story as disruptive technological change requires new skills to match the requirements of 4IR and therefore new approaches to teaching and learning of Business Studies students.

All South African businesses have to face the fact that the 4th Industrial Revolution will have an impact on their operational activities in more ways than they can imagine at present – and some entrepreneurs seem reluctant to embrace the new and rapidly emerging technologies. Robots (or Bots) can be programmed to answer call-centre queries, to weld a motor vehicle body or conduct a routine medical procedure in hospitals. Artificial Intelligence allows for ‘almost human’ actions to be undertaken by ‘non humans’ and the Internet of Things allows for data to be collected about purchasing habits, frequency of visits to the grocery store, what movies you viewed in the past 6 months, how many times you withdrew cash, and when last the elevator in the building was serviced. Big data allows for ‘mega’ gigabytes of data to be collected and analysed in a very short time period leading to much more rapid decision-making and will greater accuracy. Such new technologies have to be integrated in the business studies teaching programme.

Future teachers of Business Studies teachers will require a curriculum update together
with new teaching methods to be able to integrate these new skills into learning programmes that embrace the requirements of 4IR. New skills to be learned include
being able to code computer programmes linked to the (IoT) software. Analysis of different data sources, either at the collection level or at a processing level, and more importantly ensuring the security of data. These are some of the essential skills required by businesses who must embrace 4IR in the near future.

At a teacher education level, the adjustment of teaching programmes to engage and
critique these new skills is essential. While learning to be empathetic and a good listener as the basic skill requirements for a good teacher, there is also a need to develop the technological skill ‘drivers’ like analysis, synthesis, problem-solving as well as creating and adjusting knowledge. This must lead to the development of a ‘versatile’ student of business studies who is able to adapt to new situations and circumstances brought about by disruptive technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The vision of the teacher training today is to create a future teacher core who can engage with the teaching skills to support all aspects and issues being created by disruptive technologies so that competent teachers and ultimately entrepreneurial-minded school learners emerge to seize the day (Carpe Diem)!

– Dr Gavin Chapman, School of Education, MANCOSA

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