We don’t need more identical people from education


We don’t need more identical people from education. Information technologies transform learning. We are facing a crisis in Education delivery and outcomes. I’ve written this, first in 2014. Three years after, Education simply hasn’t kept up with technology, evolution, Change, and new needs. Teaching methods, teacher training, the stuff we’re learning and the ways we measure success are outdated. This should change. Education matters. The future of learning is for our kids, and a prosperous world.

We don’t need more identical people from education

Being a parent makes you fantasize the future with your kids. My kids go to school with 50% of the times laughing and 50% of times asking… to stay at home, but they’re on full ‘laughs’ when they engage content, experience, apps with songs and riddles, storytelling materials on our connected devices.

Will they have a coaching service, instead of an old-fashioned school? Will their teachers be able to combine and synthesize existing knowledge and cherry-pick the materials that will ignite further learning and mature kids’ character? In my country people -shocked by recession and austerity measures- have forgotten the most important investment: Education.

By investment, I  mean to help raise and redirect economies, direct skills and training to new creation and production areas, and hand-in-hand with the society conceptualize new reforms… Is it the case? Look around you…

Evolution and progress will not wait for the “system”

Evolution and progress will not wait! Long gone the days of the wooden furniture in schooling. Long gone the teachers of 55 years old being bored in class, having lost their imagination to coach and raise youth full of energy and curiosity.

Long gone the days when tuition fees and supplementary business offers (this is what happens in private and public education system…) were a barrier to knowledge sharing and competence development. Long gone the days where we were passive external hard disks, absorbing tons of non-practical tips and theories.

First, it was a glimpse of an eye with Coursera and later on with the Khan Academy. My twitter friend Gregory Farmakis had tweeted “in the era of Coursera, we (Greeks) we are preoccupied with state legislation for universities, protection of worker rights and the management process of these institutions“. I can only assume that the same goes for other countries, to pin the conservatism and routine-thinking.

What is the insight here? ICT and connected consumer habits push to widen the scope of education; they call to re-ignite the passion, the enthusiasm and bring forward the new capital investment the world needs!  ICT makes people interact in a whole different way, and it is now focusing to change education; we can now definitely talk the “death of education” and the “rebirth of learning.”

ICT in schools

It took 100 years to connect 1 billion places and 25 years to connect 5 billion people. Today, 85% of the world’s population has access to mobile communications, and by 2020 we expect there to be 50 billion connected devices.

Will they all afford to pay the tuition once offered? Will sustainability issues affect where do you study? Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops are making the school desk as we know it obsolete. Today’s progressive schools are having their classrooms rebuilt to turn them into multifunctional spaces to enable new ways of learning.

Ericsson some years ago presented a new study how ICT in schools can affect six principal areas; three that touch on the physical space, and three that cover behavioural aspects:

  1. Work tools: The tools of the trade for learning and education are changing as students bring their own devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, with them into class.
  2. Technical solutions: Network connectivity and solutions for content management, communication and interactivity have become critical infrastructure for schools.
  3. Workspace: Mobile phones, laptops, and tablets are making the school desk as we know it obsolete. Progressive schools are having their classrooms rebuilt to make them multifunctional.
  4. Ways of working: The idea that students should do one specific thing at one particular time is based on the needs of an industrial society. Project-based learning is more aligned with the reality of today’s information society.
  5. Work relations: Teachers are and will remain a vital part of education but their role is changing. New ways of working mean the teacher’s role changing from being a “sage on the stage” to a “guide on the side”.
  6. Skills and knowledge: Schools prepare young people for the future. Basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic will always be important, but in a world with unlimited access to text, audio and video information anytime, anywhere, new demands are being placed on people with regard to the skills and knowledge they need to acquire.

Stimuli to discuss and share

The poor but joyful Bhutan introduced 3 years ago a remote schooling solution, to connect distant schools with the hubs of knowledge. See the video here, and imagine the potential, the savings, the incremental knowledge-sharing you can attain in any group, geography, special need. It’s one of the references to the connected world. You see, wherever there are access and broadband, you reach Learning to higher levels.

(source: Networked Society case)

Economist: “Closed-mindedness has no place in the classroom.”

Watch this video at any price…

The above film is an amazing initiative of which I was a part when promoting Networked Society. It gave space to world-renowned experts to open the public dialogue on Education & Learning transformed. It’s not a cry-out to a mere fix/improvement to the educational system; it’s a call to revolutionalize our entire society.

There are so many children that don’t fit the current classroom model. These kids are left out, at an easy pace, and made to feel defective, often pushing them into a life of depression, lack of self-worth, and often even into a process of harmful self-medication. How can you be a productive member of society if you feel like that? A system tailored to the individual is exactly what we need.

We don’t want more identical people, pupils, students, employees

At the second grade of high school, a young girl is sketching all the time, in every course, every hour, as my son tells me. She doesn’t pay attention to any course, and she’s obviously falling behind in Math, Language, History grades.

I’m sure she would excel in an Arts school. But we don’t have those. I’m sure she would react to a coaching-skills-discovery session. But we don’t have this public service. I can imagine her reacting to a gamified interface asking her to draw a painting. But there’s no provision for such a framework. So what do we have?

“Production” of identical students, identical curriculums. In mass… and nobody worries about it. Can ICT redefine the way we learn in the connected world? Absolutely! Technology has enabled us to interact, innovate and share in whole new ways. This dynamic shift in mindset is creating profound change throughout our society.

But are we satisfied to over-“produce” millions of engineers, or lawyers, or marketers with the same identical way? The Future of Learning is already out of the classroom. Theoretically, anyone has the potential to redefine how he or she learns and gets educated.

But our potential to shift away from traditional methods of learning based on memorization and repetition, to more holistic approaches that focus on individual students’ needs and self-expression is questionable. Governments, societies, associations, Ministries don’t have such a central agenda.

Educators realize the benefits of technology in the classroom?

I’ve read recently a very interesting article in Forbes by Daniel Newman looking at six digital trends in classrooms:

  • introduction of Augmented Reality, Virtual and Mixed Reality
  • move away from BYO device policies
  • redesign of classrooms with SMARTboards and SMARTdesks
  • use of artificial intelligence
  • personalized learning, and
  • gamification of learning

I think we need to raise this issue in the country agenda we live in. Not only as parents but as active citizens; the biggest growth investment we need should be in Education. The above-shared film is just a (worrying) stimulus for a wider discussion we must push for.

Let me know your views and thoughts on this. If a country doesn’t invest in this area, and we stay put in routine, the risk is greater for society, economy, and social inclusion.

It’s so well said, by the Economist’s editorial: “Closed-mindedness has no place in the classroom.”

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