Strategic Elements to Implement Profound Changes in Learning

Strategic Elements to Implement Profound Changes in Learning

Pepe Menéndez
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4402-0.ch007
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The transformation of education that educational systems must carry out to respond to the challenges of the 21st century is becoming more relevant due to the global circumstances of COVID-19 and the consequences of all kinds that it is causing. The author describes systemic proposals for change in the elements of the current model: curriculum, organization of students and teachers, and spaces. The link between these proposals and the ones that different pedagogues have been developing in the last 20 years, which, in turn, connect with the spirit of the school's renovating currents since the 19th century, is also described. The author points out some of the characteristics of the Horizon 2020 project by Jesuïtes Educació, which since 2012 has been implementing concrete proposals for deep transformations in learning. School leaders and teachers need to set new sights and learning practices that are consistent with the changes that schools need.
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Nothing Will Be The Same

The first thought that comes to one’s mind when writing this chapter, at the end of March 2020, is probably that nothing will be the same as before the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges can no longer be thought of with the same parameters. In order to continue working on the formation of active citizenship in promoting the sustainable development of the planet, a thorough reflection on what we are living through and the vital and professional experiences we are having must be done.

In an article published in the Financial Times during the crisis, Yuval Noah Harari (2020) offered some reflections on the world that will come after the coronavirus. He warned about the open gap in the making of global confidence, as well as the need to be very attentive to the potential perdurable changes that the pandemic will bring about. He exemplified this with the appearance of new interests of those who govern the interrelation of personal data. Harari argued that awareness of global governance criteria should be increased, while proposing alternatives to build a future of greater harmony and collaboration.

Especially striking was one of the examples he used to illustrate his reasoning, regarding the use and function of algorithms. Harari suggests imagining that, whereas the algorithms have been focusing so far on following the trace of our fingers to know what type of information we are looking for, “now the government wants to know the temperature of your finger and the blood-pressure under its skin”.

Without a doubt, technology helps to combat the spread of a virus such as COVID-19 very effectively. However, it also challenges the limits of trust, as we are drawn to yield highly sensitive personal data, which impact on the balance between the right to health and freedom.

For Harari, it is an interesting dilemma, promoted by those who hold a type of governance inherited from the wildest capitalism. And therefore, he affirms and asks himself: “Humanity needs to make a choice. Will we travel down the route of disunity, or will we adopt the path of global solidarity?”.

Harari's answer to this question, which can already be glimpsed, especially in his latest essay 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018), is to put the focus on building mutual trust. Firstly, by the authorities, experts and, in general, by the different social actors, who have various levels of institutional and personal authority. But the ultimate objective is to establish a trust that must be extended to all citizens. To develop a greater spirit of solidarity collaboration of a strong humanistic character, which must grow as the level of knowledge and information of the citizenry increases. For Harari, this is the way to awake new consciences. These, having arisen from individual beliefs, will help contribute those behaviours and ideas that make the yearning for a more caring and sustainable world possible.

Amid the confinement caused by the coronavirus pandemic, UNESCO (2020) launched the proposal for a “global coalition to ensure distance education for the more than 1.5 billion students in 165 countries affected by the closure of schools.” The debate on virtual education has taken a radical turn due to the experiences of all kinds that are happening in countries around the world due to force majeure.

All the debates on digital education have been shattered by the brutality of the confinement of millions of schoolchildren in their homes, with all the social consequences it has caused. Hundreds of thousands of teachers have gone from face-to-face education to virtual education in a matter of hours. And all the good will, resistance, successes and shortcomings of educational practices have been evident.

The dizzying succession of events, combined with the changes they bring about, is testing the capacities for flexibility and the abilities to analyse what is happening. These are two key competences for making the correct decisions leading to achieving the objective of sustainable development.

There have been a few lessons learned related to the distance school experience of this turbulent time of the pandemic, which confirm somewhat the intuitions that have driven transformations in schools in various countries of the world in recent years.

Throughout this chapter, the intention is to point out some of the keys to the changes that education needs, and he will propose a series of reflections on them.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Educational Transformation: Educational transformation refers to systemic changes in the prevailing educational model. Distinguishing itself from the theories that defend reforms or renovations of some elements of the model, maintaining the substance of the traditional teaching and learning process, and its organization and structure.

Assessment: This refers to the wide variety of methods or tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or educational needs of students. In the last twenty years, various types of assessment have been promoted, such as continuous assessment, feedback, self-assessment, or peer-assessment.

HORIZON 2020: The movement of educational transformation promoted by the network of Jesuïtes Educació schools in Catalonia (Spain) since 2012, which proposes a systemic change in the educational and teaching-learning model, which has been a reference throughout the world.

Escuela Nueva (New School): In the late nineteenth century, various movements and theories emerged that raised criticisms and alternatives to traditional education. The renovation focused on promoting a new way of learning around autonomy, the spontaneous activity of children and contact with nature, defending the dignity of childhood, against the prevailing pedagogical model, based on memorization, competence, and discipline.

Project-Based Learning: The initials of project based learning (PBL) which proposes a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. Currently, there is a variety of variants such as problem-based learning or challenge-based learning, which facilitate the integration of diverse learning methodologies.

COVID-19: The technical name of the pandemic, commonly known as Coronavirus. It has swept much of the world in early 2020, causing hundreds and thousands of deaths and millions of cases. Because of this, the governments confined the population to their homes, and therefore closed all schools and universities.

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