The era of the third industrial revolution, represented by the Internet, 3D printers, and distributed new energy, has already come. It is characterised by networks, intelligence, individualisation, and globalisation.
The new industrial revolution will bring about qualitative economic and social changes. The key for China to withstand the test of the third industrial revolution lies in education, with a core component being the cultivation of talents to adapt to the new era with an innovative spirit and capacity.
The education model from the era of assembly lines during the industrial age, predominated by imparting knowledge, can by no means meet talents’ needs in the age of the third industrial revolution. The third industrial revolution raises the bar for education to cultivate diversified, individualised, innovative, and international talents in the field of education. At present, when China is in the midst of modernising, transforming, and upgrading from the past phase of “pursuing achievements and unification” and “emphasising hard work and obedience” to the current phase of “pursuing quality and individuality” and “emphasising happiness and dignity,” it is transforming from realising opportunity fairness to acquiring fairness through consideration of the problem of gaining equal access to education. A new generation of a cross-industry integration of information technology and education domains, represented by the Internet, offers new opportunities to solve these major issues, and to encourage the successful transition of education in China.
I. “Internet Plus” and education reform
“Internet Plus” represents the cross-industry integration of a whole set of information technology, including mobile Internet, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data and others, in all departments of economy and social life, and a process of continuously creating new products, new business, and new modes, and its evolution trend involves formulating wider, new forms with the Internet serving as both infrastructure and realisation tools for economic and social development.
“Internet Plus education” offers new possibilities for restructuring schools, and “Internet Plus” offers a digital infrastructure integrating cloud, Internet, and terminals, which facilitates ubiquitous learning. The data and information resources provided by “Internet Plus” will become the most essential capital, as it will accurately learn students’ individual learning needs. The real-time cooperative communication network and large-scale social cooperation will provide learners with better knowledge and timely feedback. The span of the virtual and real-world fusion between online and offline business modes will provide teachers and students with diversified education services.
“Internet Plus education” will achieve not only the scale of traditional education, but also the individualisation of a quality education; not only equal services for everyone, but also high quality services matching the ability of each individual. “Internet Plus” will assist in solving a pair of eternal contradictions in education, scale and quality, and take into account consideration of both scale and individuality at the same time.