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Education of the 21st century: the challenges of the information, knowledge and learning society


Gabriel Mario Rodrigues – Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES (Brazilian Association of Owners of Private Higher Education Institutions).

“The logic of networks is a predominant characteristic of this new society, which facilitates interaction between people, and can be implemented in all types of processes and organizations, thanks to the recent information and communication technologies” (Prof. Manoel Castels)

I have proposed a discussion in the ABMES Blog about how the educational system should prepare itself to empower people with the objective of attending the work reality of a world in vertiginous transformation. Everything is changing in all sectors, and so will our secular learning system.

In an exponential and different way from the tranquility of times past, where everything was predictable, today everything changes every moment.

Technology, companies, the environment, human relations, the teacher, the student and how people will live and work will all require that the educational system adapt and reinvent itself. For this reason, I cannot fail to bring more contributions that I received for my previous article: “Educational training and work in the future.”

Prof. Victor Mirshawka Jr. points out that for Brazil to be an innovative country, it will need to have an educational system that is renewed from early childhood to post-graduate. Profa. Norma criticizes competitive cannibalism among institutions – “No one realizes that schools will not survive the war of attracting students. In a city of 100,000 inhabitants, where 3 face-to-face colleges compete for the same market, what will happen now with the deployment of 12 poles of Distance Learning? ” There is no doubt:” in this case, the one who offers the lowest price and delivers the diploma in less time. ” It’s like a time in the US when the dispute was so great that the diploma was already delivered at the time of registration.

There is a nice contribution from Prof. Ricardo Zanotta, from PUC-SP, which I transcribe because it is interesting and proactive:

  1. Collaboration and sharing networks: Teaching and learning in collaboration and sharing networks need to be structured by educational institutions, not social networks. Facebook and WhatsApp have already shown the impressive number of participants in these digital communities. The first one reached 2 billion users last year and in Brazil 117 million. The challenge now is to transform collectively produced content into these networks into applied knowledge to develop the world. As the natural vocation of educational institutions, they could agree to study in depth the functioning and resources of all the networks and platforms available and use them in favor of the shared production of this knowledge.
  2. Teaching by challenges: when access to knowledge is broad and scalable, its transmission is facilitated and accelerated – it is a much faster dynamic of the traditional relationship teacher / class / students. In the current cognitive process there is the passivity of the students facing the knowledge that the teachers transmit. This relationship has been radically impacted by direct access to knowledge. Students reverse the cognitive process and become active, working together with teachers. Now facilitators, indicating sources and bibliographic paths to be covered.

The dynamics of the classroom are radically altered and active learning based on problem solving becomes one of the most used and successful forms of knowledge production. The challenges are launched, the sources and paths to be followed to search for knowledge related to each case are indicated. The students research, exchange information among themselves and present their solutions to the teacher, resulting in the construction of collective solution of the group.

  1. “Makers” Laboratories: The natural flow from the Challenge Resolution is to put such solutions into practice, making them a reality. “Makers” Laboratories are places with technological infrastructure, equipment, tools, materials, software, analog and digital resources, that allow the materialization of ideas. The proposal is to put hands on and prototype the elaborated solutions. It should be emphasized here that all levels of education and areas of knowledge can be used in laboratories, since students at any age have a great interest and desire to develop solutions to their own challenges and problems.
  2. Real Connecting to the Ecosystem: Students want to know and interact in a real-world manner, with agents in the industries where the planned solutions will have their impact. The sense of belonging is a critical point for the motivation of participation and engagement, even if it is to hear a contrary opinion that points to structural issues that demonstrate the infeasibility of the proposed solutions. The opportunity to talk to experts is the most important and this feedback is what makes the whole process meaningful, promoting the adaptations and course corrections to be implemented for evolution and new presentations until the right and viable path is found.
  3. Understanding the world scenario for the future of education and work: In research on the future of education and work, the emphasis is usually on the technological issue and the strong impact of digital resources on the behavior of 21st century society. It is necessary to understand that the capitalist economic model, which is predominant in almost all countries and which determines the rules of the global economy, is exhausted.

At Harvard, Professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer wrote the “Shared Value Creation” article, pointing out the important trend that companies need to strategically plan for profit, taking into consideration the social profit to be achieved, rather than exclusively prioritizing financial profit.

The strong tendency of 21st century society is to collaborate and share to build a better world to live in. Education needs to understand this scenario and insert itself in it, since the cultural and social values ​​for the collaborative economy model are the critical transformation factors. It is at their service that technologies, companies and work relationships are being rethought, and the same must happen in education.

Epilogue: As in teaching, everything takes time. I do not know if this is going to happen in 5 or 30 years. Whoever survives will see.