STEAM Education in 4th Industrial Revolution

Prof. Dr Md Mahmudul Hassan

17 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The course of all progress and advancement in the history of world civilization has changed through any Industrial Revolution.  There have been three Industrial Revolutions in the world so far.  The first one took place in 1784 with the invention of the steam engine.  Then the discovery of electricity in 1870 and the Internet in 1969 multiplied the pace of the Industrial Revolution. At present another Industrial Revolution has emerged which may surpass the previous three revolutions.  That is the Digital Revolution, which is now called the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Klaus Schwab, the founder and chief executive of the World Economic Forum (WEF), wrote in an article on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he said, “Whether we like it or not, the way we live, work and think has changed over time.  Now we are going through a technological change.  The digital revolution, which began on the basis of the Second and Third Industrial Revolutions, is changing everything at a mathematical rate, which has never happened before.  Most importantly, this change is affecting every sector of every country in the world, changing the process of production, management, and even the running of the state.

The 4IR has recently begun. It has stirred all over the world when people have mastered the use of the internet fairly well, they have started to lead efficiently in the net world and the use of smartphones has become easily available in the hands of everyone. Klaus Schwab said, "The transformation of the information technology sector around the world through smartphones, the Internet of Things (IOT), the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in equipment management, robotics, biotechnology, quantum computing has started the Fourth Industrial Revolution."

The power of the digital revolution is reflected in a recently published report by the World Bank entitled 'Digital Dividends'.  It has been said that 20,600 crore emails are sent to the world in a single day through the internet, 420 crore different things are searched on Google.  Even a decade ago, these changes in the field of information technology were unimaginable.

As global industries are now significantly shifting from the third to the fourth industrial revolution, teachers-students now need to focus on STEAM education to meet global challenges.  STEAM education is made up of five subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.  This leads to the introduction of highly technology based education.  These factors form the basis for numerous careers, including those that have yet to be discovered. STEAM education improves students' understanding of the main concepts of each subject and helps to create research, practical, and project-based assignments by building the underlying relationship between each other, sharpening much-needed critical thinking.

The impact of STEAM education is everywhere in human life.  As civilization is useless without science, the evolving trend of education also impossible without STEAM.  The basics of STEAM education are; Creativity, ability to find something, analyze, teamwork, developing communication skills, store digital knowledge, solve problems, etc.

In this age of the 4IR, learning is no longer confined to the classroom.  We should equip our schools, colleges, madrasas and universities with advanced technology by combining all the global facilities to nurture creativity and innovation.  We need to provide our students with practical knowledge as well as realistic application to build their innovative skills in addition to academic knowledge.  The rise of technological problems and advanced technology has largely led to the fourth industrial revolution, with new ideas such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, Virtual Reality (VR), cloud computing, data analysis and the Internet of Things (IoT).  The process continues to evolve.  As a result of digital transformation, the talents of the students are being developed and smart, talented and skilled manpower is being created. Thus technological advances, when adapted to the workplace, enable new ways of performing tasks, creating new opportunities for value creation in businesses and educational institutions.  Technology is essential in every aspect of life today.  The combination of technology and education has made teachers and students think a lot. COVID-19 in particular has further expanded the world of thought.

To be successful in the 21st century, students need to be more motivated towards STEAM learning.  Incredible innovations in cyber-physical systems, IoT, automation, use of computers in artistic endeavors, etc. have brought us many changes in the way we fundamentally learn, work and live.  Today's STEAM is a modified version of the previous STEM.  STEM is a combination of four subjects; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  This theory was discovered in 2001.  Now it is 2021.  STEM education has been transformed into STEAM education by adding ‘Art’ as another component to make the next generation efficient.

Leonardo da Vinci said many years ago, "Study the science of art, study the art of science."  Most recently, students and educators at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) have pioneered the concept of STEAM, which combines STEM elements with art to guide students' critical thinking, creativity, inquisitiveness, and conversation skills.  Since then, it has continued to grow importantly to STEAM education.  Proponents of STEAM education are focusing on creativity and innovative capacity to solve our problems in the future.

According to a study by The Medium Report-2020, almost all Nobel laureates in science practice arts in any way.  Comparing a successful scientist with another, it can be seen that the art practice in each of the researches is different and special in its own right.  It is the breakthrough of science and the connection between art that creates the belief among STEAM advocates that the relationship between technology and art is intricate.  Students who receive STEAM education are engaged in practical education, receive education on the basis of mutual cooperation and try their best to solve problems.  Because, they take thought-risk and work in a creative process.  In fact, many employers, educators, and parents believe that STEAM education helps students meet all the shortcomings of STEM in order to improve their skills and qualifications.

The proponents of STEAM education believe that ‘Art’ which is missed in STEM is an added component to STEAM. It not only prepares students to understand science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but also helps them learn how to learn and solve problems in a creative and artistic way.  In order to create a successful STEAM program, it is essential to incorporate the Arts into the STEM in an authentic way.  This is not just to add creativity to the STEM, but to apply the art to real world situations.  For example, if students are given an assignment under the STEM project, art is attached to present it beautifully.  And this is the STEAM education.  So, STEAM education basically enhances students' ability to think ‘out of the box’.

The 4IR has revolutionized our overall way of life.  The industrial revolution has influenced everything from how we can lead a beautiful life, work aesthetically, what kind of education we have, what we can do in the future.  The experts think that in the Corona Pandemic, we all understand the need for STEAM education more or less. Study can be made digitally- it is understood by almost all of the students in our country due to the advent of Corona.  This was made possible by the effects of the 4IR.

Therefore, it is clear that the time is now for STEAM education.  To build up the next generation as skilled manpower for facing the 21st century challenges, more emphasis needs to be placed on STEAM education.  STEAM education, comprising five subjects; science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, plays an effective role in accelerating the country's progress and development.  Today's students are tomorrow's bright workforce.  In this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), we have to make them successful in the career world by imparting technology based knowledge and practical skills through STEAM education.


The writer is an education researcher and Principal, Daffodil International School, Dhaka