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One Plus One is Always More Then Two

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Prof. Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues, Chairman of the Board of Advisers at the Brazilian Association of Owners of Private Higher Education Institutions (ABMES) and the Kroton Group

“One of the most interesting questions posed by the Ivory Tower movie is: why would an average student (ie, no genius) or his family pay a debt of about $ 140,000 at the end of the undergraduate degree, considering that approximately 40% of graduates are unemployed or underemployed in jobs that require little or no qualification for the skills they have paid for?”

The section above is linked to one of the last statements of Minister Vélez Rodríguez of the Ministry of Education, which states: “Today we live the information and knowledge age, and trends indicate that life in the 21st century will be based on continuous learning, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in all areas and dimensions of human, individual and collective life.” And goes further: “It does not make sense for a lawyer to study for six years to become an Uber driver: Nothing against Uber, but this citizen could have avoided spending six years studying legislation. ”

For the minister, the “financial return” of the technical courses is bigger and more immediate than the one of graduation and the university can not be for everyone.

With similar concerns, Professor Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School said at a recent US Congress that 50 percent of America’s 4,000 colleges will be bankrupt within 10 to 15 years. Also in his book The Innovative University,co-authored with Henry Eyring, he realistically analyzes the future of universities as we know them today.

But what shows a new aspect linked to learning is the website Porvir, highlighting the study “Navigating the Future of Learning: Forecast 5.0”. The documentary brings up five factors that will influence global learning:
• Automation;
• Technologies that affect the functioning of the brain;
• Real narratives that deal with success and personal fulfillment;
• the change in the structure of communities, organized as NGOs, that will act and influence the gaps left by the public power;
• The New Geographies that aims to show how migratory movements can promote cultural assets.

The concern with the quest to give viability to the university is not recent. By the end of the 1990s there was a project – the triple helix – developed by Henry Etzkovitz [ii] and Loet Leydesdorff [iii] on how to transform scientific knowledge into technological innovation supported by a partnership between government, business and universities. And today we would add communities and the environment.

The use of digital media and the Internet has fostered the development not only of distance education, but also of a more interactive and collaborative pedagogical model, allowing modes of integration. However, it is observed that there is no consensus on feasibility, effective applicability with the use of new educational practices. There is a great deal of timidity or fears from education operators in accepting, ratifying, defining and deciding on measures and initiatives that consider their adoption. Always highlighting the urgency that the triple propeller could be feasible.

There are references to processes including putting the theorists in confrontation with the market realities, more exacerbated by the PMIES (Small and Medium Institutions of Higher Education), absolute majority in the country, that cause as much concern when the subject is desired quality. And here for us it is a little difficult to be achieved per se and not to rely on partnerships, even poor results will occur.

The development of new ICTs has changed the organization of societies and today the dominant emphasis is on sharing. Thus, the twenty-first century experiences considerable changes in the infrastructure of various social sectors, as in the economy and the diffusion of culture. In education – and specifically in the field of higher education – it is no different. But we lack the view of the sum, particularly here the 1 + 1 + 1.

Today, there are thousands of texts dealing with the subject of new technologies so that no one can steal from such content and practices. There can be no disdain or disinterest for projects, stories, and analyzes of changes in learning parameters. Considering the triple helix, together we will go further.

Managers, parents interested in learning about the profile and dynamics of innovative HEIs, students looking for information about the academic identity of HEIs, professors engaged in learning about the changes that are happening and what are to come, education legislators, all are actors responsible for advances and improvements in educational models. Never alone.

One can not today, for lack of courage and audacity, for the fear of making mistakes, to stop proposing innovation. But the need for HEIs to respond to current demands has delayed its entry into the 21st century. So they fall down and stumble along the way.
The major concern today is that more bureaucratic HEIs miss the timing of change (including their management model), the ability to discuss innovation and introduce new ways of organizing the teaching-learning process, without a necessary complicity, having and being the collective.

Technology is (and increasingly will be) an ally of the learning process. Through the platforms it is possible to manage student learning. The concept of curriculum, assessment, and learning space will change significantly. Therefore, it is necessary to go beyond the ideologies and norms of the MEC. The learning experience is no longer controlled by the teacher, who still in many cases can live the nostalgia of the past, delaying in a way the process of innovation. The role of HEIs working in the new fields of education is to present to regulators and evaluators of institutions and courses that innovation breaks paradigms, but in no way represents a loss of quality. On the contrary, innovation promotes real gains in the administrative and academic dynamics of HEIs, especially if arm in arm with the market and with the government.

Brazil loses important positions every year when it comes to competitiveness and innovation. Much of the problem lies in political will, but also in the distance that universities generally have in relation to the innovative process. With the growing educational demand in Brazil, and especially in the great need of skilled labor, for the new times, the Brazilian universities need a new posture, mainly in innovative programs and connected with the market.
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[i] Ivory Tower is a documentary produced by CNN in 2014, which discusses the crisis of higher education in the United States.
[ii] Henry Etzkowitz is a Visiting Professor at the Business School of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and General Counsel of the International Triple Helix Institute (IITH), LaSalle University, Madrid, Spain.
[3] Loet Leydesdorff is a Dutch sociologist, cybernetics and professor in the Dynamics of Scientific Communication and Technological Innovation at the University of Amsterdam. He is known for his work in the sociology of communication and innovation.
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