In general, a nation’s economy can be divided into three sectors: primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary sector of the economy relates to production of raw resources and basic foods. The secondary sector refers to manufacturing, processing and construction-type industries. While the tertiary sector covers the service industry, such as restaurants and entertainment (movies and TV), banking, law, healthcare and retail. In Australia, the service sector accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s economic activity. Within the service sector, however, more intellectual activities such as government, education, culture and media, can be further defined as the ‘quaternary’ sector of economy. These activities are typically not measured in monetary value but they significantly contribute to the economy.
[Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 5206. National Income, Expenditure and Product. June Quarter 2003: Axiss Australia]
To ICT industries, interestingly, these four sectors of the economy can be applied and the result has practical implications for education. The primary sector of ICT industry produces hardware such as hard drive, keyboard and mobile devices. The secondary sector refers to software and applications that include graphic tools, video editing tools, and instant messengers and online chatting applications. The tertiary sector should be content development for software and applications. Then what would be the quaternary sector of ICT industry? In the economy categorisation outlined above, the quaternary sector refers to “more intellectual activities”. So you can ask, “What activities would be more intellectual than content development in ICT industry?” It should be a form of more comprehensive and inclusive concept creation activities than software and content development, so its figure would be something like connections between content and people, and between people and people. In other words, the quaternary sector of ICT industry should focus on relation (collectivistic) focused activities through ICT networks. Social Network Sites are the most representative outcomes of the quaternary sector of ICT industry that generate new experiences, relationships and cultures.
To define a new teacher model which suits the digital and information age, the quaternary sector of ICT needs to be investigated further. Traditionally, careers in the primary and secondary sector of economy have required having the following attributes and mindsets: diligent and hard-working as an individual worker and loyalty and integrity to organisations. However, the tertiary sector of economy has required workers to have more devotion, more sincerity, and more professionalism to provide better services to customers. Then what would be workers’ attributes and mindsets in the quaternary sector? It should be creativity and innovation, as well as professionalism. As the quaternary sector focuses on new experience and culture creation based on the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of ICT, it requires workers to be creative and innovative rather than diligent and sincere. The creative thinking and innovative approaches to the existing hardware, software and content require workers to break down institutional thinking. By adopting this approach, it is much more likely to create new knowledge and a new paradigm, which attracts people into new experiences as they customise and personalise their needs.
I will discuss the future teacher model further in my next blog.