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Visionaries are Creating the Future – A Proposal for The Massification of Personalized Learning

Paul Vadas – Master Degree in Political Science, California State University, Northridge; Twenty years of experience in executive functions at Brazilian Higher Education Institutions. Senior Consultant - Vadas Educational Consulting

Paul Vadas


Fernando Siqueira, in an article recently published in the newspaper “Tribuna do Norte”, dated August 1, 2017, describes the interview with Mercedes Benz’s CEO Dieter Zetsche in which Dieter said that the auto industry, like several other industrial sectors, will suffer profound changes and that “Softwares will break most of the traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.”

To exemplify, he suggested that “Uber is nothing more than a software tool, they do not own cars, and they are now the largest taxi company in the world.”

Visionary, Zetsche describes a future that is already being created:

– Autonomous cars that will replace the driver and the need to have your own automobile through the comfort of calling a car over the phone, which will take people to their destinations without the need to drive, park, pay for maintenance, pay for insurance, etc. The passenger will only have to pay for the distance traveled.

–  With 90-95% fewer cars, cities much less polluted and less noisy, allowing for better uses of spaces.

–  Due to the autonomous driving, much less accidents that will enable to “save a million lives a year!”

– Most car and insurance companies will probably go bankrupt. Traditional car companies are still trying the evolutionary approach that entails building a better car, while technology companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) make the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.

– The Real Estate Market will change because, if you can work while you are moving and the cars are autonomous, people will move farther and live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Obviously, the impact of the changes caused by the automotive sector goes much further than the industry itself. The insurance, real estate, emergency medical clinics, first aid, auto schools, traffic engineering, street maintenance, roads, among others, will have a chain effect of changes that will impact lifestyles.

The greatest technological resource that is profoundly affecting the transformations that we are witnessing, not only in the automotive sector, but also in the retail, supermarkets, banks, finance, arts, and services sectors, is the “software “.

Communication and computer technologies are transferring the “labor-intensive” labor force from the manual-work positions to the unemployment lines. In its place, society increasingly cries out for “intellect-intensive” laborers. It seeks visionary, creative, innovative professionals who know how to think critically, evaluate potentials, and embark on a mission of transformation of their dreams into realities.

There is no sector that has a greater affinity, or is, by its very nature, an intimate part of the communication system than the educational sector. Education, in its essence, is nothing more than the transfer of information from those who have them to those who don’t. As a communication system, education’s objective is to provide a system of information-transfer from the teacher (the information emissive side) to the learner (the information receptive side), objecting the construction of knowledge by the latter. In practice, the educational communication system, formal or informal, is a complete system of inputs, process, outputs and continuous feedback among the emissive and the receptive sides.

Today, the educational system, as a technologically mediated systemic process, is far from being as effective as it could be. It has not reached its full potential in terms of making it viable for the learner to learn based on her/his individual needs and capabilities. As a mediator of information transfer, IT is still being mostly used as a teaching-centric tool, instead of being used as an overall learning-centric tool.

As Gabriel Mario Rodrigues, president of the board of advisers of the Brazilian Association of Private Higher Education Institutions  says, “Technology is facilitating everything, but it is simply a means. What matters are the ideas of people who first thought of finding solutions to facilitate human work, from the first hominid that created the wheel to facilitate the transport of things.”  What he is saying is that what counts are the interlocutors and their abilities to expose their ideas, to exchange information, and to transform their knowledge into creative, innovative and practical solutions.

But, incredible as it may seem, the educational sector lacks a creative, innovative vision that makes it possible to break the paradigms of highly systematized, rigidly structured processes that continue to focus on Process Oriented Teaching (POT), which prioritizes memorization and the teacher’s exclusive word, rather than Results Oriented Learning (ROL), that prioritizes the individual, his talents and natural vocations, and the outcomes of his learning. In essence, education, as a system of constant feedbacks in a constantly changing world, should no longer be a teacher-learner proposition. It should be a constant learner-learner proposition.

If we want to focus on preparing an “intellect-intensive” work force, we will need to reinvent the education system. We need to go from the POT model, which focuses mainly on reflexive actions (doing repetitive work), more in tune with the factory model, to the ROL model, which focuses mainly on reflective actions (critical thinking, analytics, and impact projections), more in tune with the competencies required in the intellect-intensive model of today’s creative and innovative enterprises.

As an educational system, POT prioritizes indoctrination. It prioritizes the status quo and not change. It prioritizes mass education: a simple transfer of information by one teacher, on a given subject matter, to dozens of students, at the same time and place. Its aim is to prepare workers for a stable, little changing work-place.

However, “constant change” is the main feature of today’s socio-political, economic, cultural, highly globalized, interconnected, and online information-transfer environment, in real time. From this reality, no country can escape. Change is an inexorable trend that cannot be stopped. And, as much as the education sector has been resisting, the forces of change in industries and in services have been gaining ground. The pressures of those forces are now knocking at the doors of educational institutions, demanding that they change their ways, if they want to remain relevant.

In my next articles, I will approach the idea of a new educational ROL model which can profoundly affect the ways the concept of education is understood. This understanding, permeated by the software revolution that allows for the massification of personalized education, can, I believe, provide for a more appropriate system of education for the Twenty First Century.