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IR 4.0 and the 4 Cs of Education 4.0

A journey from mass production and consumption through the invention of communication technologies and IT to the era of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning, deep learning etc., where the boundaries of physical, virtual and biotechnological worlds are blurred, depicting four industrial revolutions(IR) with the 4th IR transforming all aspects of human lives including job and education. IR 4.0 eliminates some jobs (low skill jobs and routine activities); for example, IBM Watson created AI-based experts who can replace junior lawyers or medical practitioners, and creates new jobs (data science, AI-based, etc.). Consequently, education will be in dire need of transformation.

Not unlike industrial revolutions, Education has also traveled from education 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, to education 4.0. Education 1.0 represents one-way process where teacher is the sole supplier and deliverer of information in which tasks and activities are done in isolation. In Education 2.0 there is more interaction between teacher and student, student and student, and student and content/expert where collaboration is relatively encouraged and education technologies are sparsely used. In education 3.0, content is freely, openly available. Self-directed learning, problem based innovation and creativity are the driving force of education where the use of technology is more obvious.

Education 4.0 is characterized by responding to the needs of IR 4.0, with man and machine alignment; harnessing the potential of digital technology; open educational resources, globally connected education, and lifelong learning. Correspondingly, the educational paradigm needs to be revisited and reframed. Students should be trained, mentored, facilitated, but not taught in conventional way. Information should be openly accessible to students in a way that they could determine their learning rather than being offered by teachers in a rigid structure. Education 4.0 should align with IR 4.0 to help students meet the requirement of job market as well as to prepare them for the prospective revolution that could happen in future. However, although we are living in IR 4.0 era, we are still ways behind the appropriate application of the IR 4.0 paradigms in our pedagogical practices backtracking us to education 1,2 or 3.

To satisfy the needs of IR 4.0 job market and develop globally competitive learners, education 4.0 needs to develop 4 skills, namely critical thinking (i.e., looking at the problems in novel ways associating learning subjects across disciplines), communication (i.e., sharing thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences and solutions), collaboration (i.e. working together in order to reach a common goal by putting experiences, talents and smart-work together) and creativity (attempting new approaches through invention and innovation), which could be nurtured and taught, refined with the proper approach and guidance (Fadhlullah & Ahmad, 2017; Zain, Muniandy & Hashim, 2016). They could also be enhanced through open educational resources (OER) and educational technologies.

Since 1980, Malaysia has hugely invested in education with the purpose of changing from drills to skills. Between 1999 and 2011, Malaysia has tripled education budget though students’ performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is not satisfactory (Yue-Yi, 2016). However, studies show Malaysian instructors’ readiness to implement 21st learning skills and the stakeholders need to take action to promote the teachers to pursue their study at higher level to enhance their knowledge and skills of education 4.0 (Rusdin, 2018). Based on Malaysian blue print 2013-2025, graduates need be equipped with the skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity to be successful in 21st century job market.

To sum it up, measures need to be taken to inculcate and develop the culture of teaching  education 4.0 skills among Malaysian students at both secondary and tertiary levels to upgrade them to satisfy the requirements of job market in 21st century.


Fadhlullah, A., & Ahmad, N. (2017). Thinking outside of the box: Determining students’ level of critical thinking skills in teaching and learning. Asian Journal of University Education, 13(2), 51-70.

Rusdin, N. M. (2018). Teachers’ Readiness in Implementing 21st Century Learning. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(4), 1293–1306.

Yue-Yi, H. (2016). From drills to skills? Cultivating critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration through Malaysian schools.

Zain, I. M., Muniandy, B., & Hashim, W. (2016). The Integration of 21st-Century Learning Framework in the ASIE Instructional Design Model. Psychology6(7), 415-425.

By Dr. Ebrahim Panah, UCYP Lecturer

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