Media, people, CEO’s and so many others have their mouth full on the future of education. Belgian newspaper “De Standaard” had an opinion on the future of academic education today…one that struck me!
“(Academic) Education will be digital or won’t be!” was the bottom line of Robert Stouthuysen (Former VOKA and Janssen Pharmaceutica). Yes, I’m a believer, but academic education is the last educational phase, and our primary and secundary education isn’t preparing our children to learn in a digital environment….It’s like running a marathon without any training. Digital academic education will fail if we don’t change our “training” towards academic (of higher) education. I urge all educational stakeholders to take education (in a digital environment) to the next level!
What’s wrong with our system?!
Nothing! Our students have good scores in Pisa testings, our education system is honoured worldwide, …. and so on! This strenghtens educational dino’s, politicians, …. to hold on to our knowledge based educational system. Yes, we’re switching more into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)-education, but STEM is not the only switch we need to make. STEM is important for our economy, but when we teach STEM according to old education principales we won’t arm our future generation for what’s next. Our educational system is a ‘teacher’ (lecturer, or professor) based system. The teacher is the students guide into the knowledge area. The teacher hold’s the knowledge key, supported by textbooks, coursereaders …. but seldom our students are challenged on a personnal level to take their education/learing into their own hands. The dino’s will argue that they are not ready, …. but that’s a false argument. We don’t prepare them to be ready!
Digital enables learning, if you let it!
Instead of feeding them knowledge, we need to feed them the attitude for curiosity and exploration into different fields of interests. Together with the attitude to adapt to changing circumstances, this will create students who will be eager to learn where they want and whenever they want. Digital enables this! Digital gives today students access to more information than ever, but we never challenge them to work or deal with that amount of information.
For 10 years we’re talking about digital literacy of our students. To be all honest, our students (still) are digital illiterate (due to our traditional education system). Why? We give them search tasks, we let them browse the web, ….and in the end the teacher will give the (one and only) right answer….and that’s where we go wrong!! Our students create a laid-back attitude knowing that their teacher will tell them in the end what’s right and what’s wrong…
Students need to be challenged and need to challenge each other. Teacher take on a new rol of guide or coach instead of ‘god of the right answer’. If a students goes wrong, you send him back to work instead of giving him the right answer. Let students work together to reach results. They can handle teamwork, if you coach them!
A new role for our teacher!? So a new teacher-educational program!?
I believe that our teacher educational program should focus on those attitudes and how to stimulate students to take on their own learning process. Forming coaches instead of teachers! A teacher holds the connotation of knowledge, while in the (near) future knowledge (probably) will be uploaded. So teachers will become obsolete…And that’s where I agree with Robert Stouthuysen! In the future learning will be done everywhere. Students will learn, not only behind a screen, but from each other, will learn from digital sources, will learn by doing, …. (Virtual?) coaches will coach them on their exploration! Are we ready?
A 5 year plan for the universities to change into a digital university won’t do! We need to change our educational system bottom up, and universities are the last phase! Let’s hope we get there in 5 years?!