What is smart and sustainable education in the 21st century? This is one of the key challenges today. Instead of asking how ICT can be used in schools, the salary level of teachers and similar marginal questions we should ask what education is in the 21st century. The two key questions are:
1. What do we need to learn?
2. How can we learn? (using new technology and solutions)
The first question is very interesting as we are moving into a society where changes are happening so fast and where science is no longer even close to intuitive (quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, data processing, genetic manipulation, etc) that it will be challenging to guide the development with current democratic institutions (or non democratic institutions in some cases). It is also important as access to data and connectivity make interpretation of data rather than memorizing data more important in many cases. A geopolitical shift make cultural understanding of countries like China and India more important in the western curriculum.
The second question is equally interesting and related. When we can get access to information and explanations by the world’s best teachers though mobile devices what is the role of the “industrial school” (presented in an entertaining way here by Ken Robinson) and how can we focus on education/learning rather than an institution with limited relevance in the 21st century. Distant education has a great potential to lead the discussion, but so far they have often used traditional education as the benchmark instead of developing new innovative approaches to education. Will this change?
A first step could be to develop a ranking/rating system of current education. What are the best approaches/contributions to sustainable development and how can it be measured.
Realize that I’ve over the three last weeks discussed the issue of education and innovation three times in three different processes. At EDEN (Annual Conference – Learning and Sustainability: The New Ecosystem of Innovation and Knowledge) and at a pan EU university project and today I could not avoid it during a (video) discussion about ICT and sustainability during an event in Almedalen.