Ronaldo Mota – Science Director of Digital Pages, writes about new technologies in contemporary education and innovative educational methodologies
In the last century, the model of development adopted demanded professionals that did not exist before and sophisticated the specializations of the professions that already were known. Schools, their teachers and methods were efficient and effective in meeting the demands of the market and the expectations of citizens. For each career, general guidelines were prescribed contemplating content, as well as associated procedures and techniques.
The educational paths were simple and they worked for the times. After completing the courses and after evaluations based on memory tests, usually answered individually, the trainees were awarded certificates or diplomas, which attested their knowledge and enabled them to migrate to the next stages or to the full exercise of their occupations.
Around the turn of this century, which also marked the arrival of a new millennium, the changes accelerated exponentially, motivated by the entry into the digital universe, quickly leaving behind the analogical realities of yesteryear. The advent of digital technologies has rapidly and profoundly impacted all areas of knowledge and all sectors of human activity, including education. What worked well in the area of learning no longer works.
Understanding new and complex educational situations involves incorporating unpredictability, requiring the training of people with the ability to adapt quickly to the unprecedented contexts and circumstances, whatever they may be. Being restricted to the already ready recipes, in the molds of the past times, has the consequence of limiting the professionals to shallow, undervalued works and subject to being, gradually, replaced by machines and algorithms. The so-called deep, valued and compatible works of the contemporary world demand people capable of going beyond rote learning, the result of an education that dares to transcend traditional teaching, incorporating features that were previously marginally considered.
Memory is associated, in a simplified way, to the set of more traditional contents, having a relevant role in cognitive processes, especially in the absorption of basic knowledge, among them: 1) general literacy, proven ability to write and interpret text, and mathematical literacy; 2) digital literacy, including the domain of platforms, software and applications; and 3) ability to understand cultural, artistic, historical, geographical, etc.
Social-emotional skills, associated with metacognition, are coupled mainly to behavioral aspects, involving the learner’s ability to reflect on one’s own learning. Thus, in addition to the content domain, in terms of metacognitive aspects, it is intended that the student: 1) be able to learn to learn continuously throughout life, expanding his own awareness of the mechanisms by which he learns; 2) demonstrate analytical ability to solve practical problems (ie based on knowledge of the scientific method and familiarity with critical thinking), develop the domain of sophisticated abstract reasoning; 3) is accustomed to join different areas of knowledge, with special provision for the area of information management, including the domain of languages and digital platforms; 4) has effective communication skills, dealing with people, including promoting mediations with flexibility and competence in all contexts; 5) have developed emotional intelligence, including perseverance, empathy, self-control, and collective emotional management ability; 6) demonstrate full provision for the simultaneous fulfillment of multitasking, providing capacity for informed analysis and decision making; and 7) collaborate in a productive way, being respectful and cordial, understanding the individual characteristics and the peculiarities of the circumstances, promoting creative and entrepreneurial environments resulting from collective and cooperative processes.
Virtual learning environments facilitate the collection and analysis of data, as much about the content domain as about the behavioral aspects of each student. Learning analytics makes it possible to know each learner better and, together, favoring his/her own reflection on the learning process, determining personalized educational trails.
In short, memory and social-emotional skills, such as cognition and metacognition, do not contradict each other; they complement each other. The development of the ability to learn to learn is only possible throughout the process of content absorption. Although it is sometimes more relevant to broaden the awareness of how and in what context one learns than what one has actually learned. It is walking that develops the ability to walk. To the point where the reflection matures about the walk itself emancipates the student towards independent learning, preparing it for a lifetime.