The Future of Education in a Globally Connected World
Post written by Jasmine Sanborn, a senior digital and visual journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. She hopes to follow her passions for conservation and comics and someday join the ranks at National Geographic or Marvel Comics.
In our ever-evolving world, where is the future of education headed? "The Future of Education in a Globally Connected World," a panel discussion at ASCD's 68th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show featuring education experts from around the world, sought to answer this question and explore what we can learn from one another.
Moderated by ASCD Executive Director and CEO Dr. Gene R. Carter, the panel featured Siew Hoong Wong, Deputy Director-General of Education (Curriculum) from Singapore; Benjalug Namfa, Deputy Secretary General, Office of Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education from Thailand; Pasi Sahlberg, Director General, Center for International Mobility and Cooperation and ASCD Board Member from Finland; and Hye-chong Han, Associate Research Fellow, Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation from South Korea.
The panel began with a brief description of each country's respective education system. The vastly different approaches proved that there is no single prescription for success.
"We are obsessed with our future," Wong said. "Students must be prepared for all world technologies because [they] will change the world around us."
Wong indicated that many educators realize that as technology evolves, so must the approach to integrating it into schools. It's no longer about just showing videos or creating PowerPoint presentations, but rather about infusing technology into classrooms, said Wong. This means that teachers need to have high comprehension of technology and know how to properly interact with it.
Namfa pointed out this was a worry for aging teachers in Thailand who lacked the necessary comprehension, causing them to contemplate early retirement.
Sahlberg agreed that technology is a concern for Finland as well. He mentioned that some teachers, however, would argue that students interact with technology enough as it is outside of the classroom. "Some teachers might tell you that school is a place for social interaction. Computers don't help, [not] like talking in a small group without technology does," Sahlberg said.
Han said that in South Korea, they believe the more access, the better. Their "Smart Education" school system allows students to learn with cloud-based educational services. Schools are provided wireless Internet access, which eliminates the need to carry textbooks, assignments, or supplemental texts because the materials are all stored on the cloud.
All of the presenters acknowledged that the success of technological integration in schools doesn't matter if teacher training is subpar and respect of those teaching is lacking. To respect teachers, it's necessary to have a high degree of trust in them and their skills, noted Sahlberg. This is why Finland has invested in standardizing all teacher training. If you look at the preparation needed for other professions, he said, why should teaching be any different?
Wong pointed out that success is relative to how the public views education and its importance within society. "We see education as an important aspect [of society], so teachers are seen as important, too. We're working hard to build a representation of teachers and how they can make a difference."
More than anything, it's about investing in the future of your people and making sure everyone has access to an education, said Namfa. He believes his nation is making that commitment. "We're saying, 'You have opportunity, and the government thinks you're important. You're somebody to Thailand.'"