Good Example Of Education Transformations Essay
The main purpose of the education is to provide appropriate knowledge, experiences and skills preparing individuals to be productive and successful members of society and to promote economic growth. There is a strong interconnection between the development of economic and educational systems. On the one hand, education is at the heart of human progress and drives the economic development. On the other hand, the economic growth requires the educational system to undergo permanent changes and to perform its basic functions appropriately.
For example, current globalization processes and rapid development of technologies cause the necessity to change professions and to be prepared for learning throughout the life. To achieve this goal, today's workforce must acquire new skills that must be taught in a new way. This is a challenge for educational systems around the world because the country that fails to modernize its education fulfilling the mentioned requirements will be left behind because of dramatic transfer of jobs across the globe.
Naturally, during the process of improving to the current level of development in the past few centuries, education underwent a number of significant changes according to the growing requirements of the economic system. The conceptual framework of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stated that knowledge ladder distinguishes four stages of such transformation: basic education, knowledge acquisition, knowledge deepening and knowledge creation (2011). Together, these stages depict an upward trajectory of educational transformation. Each of them differs in application of components of the educational system: use of information and communication technologies (ICT), assessment, curriculum, classroom pedagogy, professional development of teacher, school organization and administration, educational policy, etc.
The basic education stage is characterized by limited use of most components of the educational system. The primary goal of basic education is engaging of the workforce into the formal economy by providing it with basic skills. That’s why the curriculum and assessment of such educational system are focused mainly on literacy and numeracy skills. Another peculiarity of this system is the high level of hierarchy: the teacher is usually given a little autonomy and is closely supervised by a variety of inspectors. In return, the teacher has minimum competence in teaching skills and knowledge of the subject. The use of ICT does not take place; the facilities of educational institutions are minimal. Basic education stage is still prevalent in least developed countries because of severe constraints of resources. Nevertheless, if the primary requirements of this stage are fulfilled, this basis can facilitate further development and improvement of the education system quality.
The knowledge acquisition stage is mostly associated with the model of education that meets the needs of the economy built on mass production. These needs include building up an industrial base, productivity improvement and intensification of foreign economic activities. In this case, the main role of the educational system is to prepare more skilled and knowledgeable workforce, capable to make use of new technologies. To reach this goal, the educational system must undergo some transformation involving the improvement of education quality, the increase of mathematical and science skills and increase of secondary school enrollments. The changes also include the beginning of ICT use in the shape of establishing separate computer laboratories. Various computer-based tutorials and e-content can also be used in pedagogical practice. But their role is often supplemental. As a result, technologies do not become fully integrated into the curriculum and are usually included in it only as a separate subject. Some of other important features of the basic education stage such as the division of curriculum in traditional subject areas, the basic problem-solving approach and the focus on factual knowledge remain unchanged. Therefore, the educational system of knowledge acquisition stage usually fails to provide knowledge applicable in real-world situations.
The key feature of the knowledge deepening stage is the establishment of an educational system that provides skills and experiences relevant to the real-world situations of work and social life. At this stage, the economic system demands from the workforce to increase its ability to add value to economic output and to improve the standards of living. Complying with this demand, the curriculum starts focusing on the comprehensive understanding of key principles, concepts and procedures rather than on covering a significant amount of facts and information that can be obtained from the Internet. Teachers put challenging tasks to draw students’ attention on core concepts in the disciplines and to raise their motivations and interests. ICT becomes deeply integrated into the daily learning process, as well as into the curriculum. The equipment is no longer confined to the computer laboratories. It becomes available in the classrooms and lecture halls on a regular basis. Requirements for the teachers’ competence increase dramatically. The teacher has to possess an in-depth knowledge of the subject, as well as to cultivate students’ cognitive and social skills necessary to solve the problems they face during this type of learning. Nevertheless, the efforts mentioned above are still not enough to educate individuals capable to continue learning throughout the life and to create ongoing knowledge communities.
Finally, the knowledge creation stage involves the formation of the workforce continually engaged in learning, innovation and creation of new knowledge throughout the life. The educational preparation of students goes far beyond the learning of established knowledge. To fulfill these requirements, the curriculum supplements by a new set of transversal skills often called 21st-century skills. They include the ability to think critically, to search for and analyze information, to use a wide range of technological tools and to communicate in a variety of forms. But overriding are those skills that enable students to learn throughout their lifetimes. The role of technologies becomes crucial. In the course of the educational process, students and teachers use a number of different electronic devices, ICT-based tools and digital resources. The teachers’ mission undergoes another transformation inasmuch as at the knowledge creation stage “teachers design a learning community and a set of activities and resources in which students are continuously engaged in the sustained, collaborative process of building on current knowledge and cultural artifacts to create and share new contributions” (Scardamalia 2006). Teachers constantly collaborate with a wide network of experts and colleagues to implement innovative teaching and learning techniques on a regular basis. Educational institutions transform into learning organizations where all members are involved in the learning process.
Obviously, the modern processes of education transformation are not limited only to the activities covered by the knowledge ladder conception. The ongoing economic development permanently makes new demands on the quality of workforce and social organization promoting new educational system changes. While it is premature to claim that the educational system has moved to the new stage, its modern modifications require detailed consideration.
First of all, information and communication technologies are the most influential accelerator of transforming education among the other components of the educational system. Using of ICT entails the most profound changes in present-day teaching and learning activities. In the past, technologies (radio, television, audio recordings) were marginally incorporated into the educational system and could not change the traditional way of learning because of their capability to disseminate information only. Nowadays, learning environment combines access to the high-speed Internet, effective infrastructure, a set of mobile devices with top-quality educational software and secure cloud services. Application of these ICT allows participants of the educational process to produce, share, save and comment information. In addition, “ICT make knowledge resources and productive capabilities available on “anytime, anywhere” basis, inside and outside the school” (Halverson 2009). This makes ICT far more powerful and pervasive.
Thanks to the modern technologies, teachers ceased to be the primary source of information in classroom or lecture hall. Instead, they act as collaborative partners together with a number of other experts, mentors, scientists and businessmen involved in the knowledge community. The new role of teachers consists in creation of such community and in involving students into it through the use of ICT. Thus, teachers become the source of social, human and decision-making capital. By improving organizational and personal capacities and enlarging their communities, they expand the ability to create new efficient learning experiences for their students.
Another innovation of the modern educational system is the personalization of learning approaches. Whatever technologies are used, the leading experts agree that the further transformation of education is impossible without embracing of the students’ diversity and providing a high degree of individual support for each of them. Lento states that for these purposes, teachers must aim at activation of each student’s unique learning path (2014). Taking advantage of all opportunities, teachers identify key learning features of each student and use the appropriate individual approaches inspiring their students to make utmost efforts in those fields where they are the most talented and in those ways they can do the best.
As teachers transform their teaching methods, the technique of the student progress assessment also undergoes corresponding changes. Assessment ceases to be merely a tool that displays the level of students' achievements. New methods of assessment also provide valuable information for teachers to enable some learning and teaching adjustments during the educational process. Therefore, the assessment becomes the main tool for ensuring continuous self-improvement and transformation of the educational system.
According to the review of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), effective assessment systems “are grounded in standard-based curriculum and managed as part of an integrated approach that links standards, curriculum, pedagogy, and professional development; use a variety of measures to evaluate student performance on challenging tasks where they apply knowledge and skills; provide meaningful data for improving learning outcomes and accountability; use ICT to provide immediate feedback, give students new ways to demonstrate their learning, and integrate information for analysis and increase accountability” (eSchool Media 2012).
Naturally, the transformation of teaching methods and assessment leads also to the further modifications of the curriculum. Previously, it was usually divided into the subjects and focused on literacy skills, including ICT literacy. Up-to-date approach extends curriculum beyond the subject domains. As a result, curriculum consist mainly of cross-discipline projects designed to develop reasoning skills, self-management skills, information management skills, complex problem solving skills, and character development.
Summing up, education undergoes ongoing transformations on an unprecedented scale. To prepare today's students for the jobs of tomorrow, education focuses more and more on imparting of practical skills through the use of ICT. This completely changes the traditional concept and perception of education.
eSchool Media, 2012. Doing More With Less: How Informed Assessment Practices Can Help. [pdf] Available at: <https://www.measuredprogress.org/documents/10157/18324/assessmentliteracy_star_final_revised.pdf> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2015].
Halverson, R., 2009. Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. New York: Teachers College Press.
Lento, E.M, 2014. Transforming Education for the Next Generation. [pdf] Available at: <http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/intel-education.html> [Accessed 19 Apr. 2015].
Scardamalia, M., 2006. Knowledge Building: Theory, Pedagogy, and Technology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
UNESCO, 2011. Transforming Education: The Power of ICT Policies. [pdf] Available at: <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002118/211842e.pdf> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2015].
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