No, that’s not a quote from an overenthusiastic humanistic teacher, it actually comes from Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of the Chinese internet giant, Alibaba. At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos he issued a warning: “If we don’t change how we teach people, we’ll find we have major problems in 30 years’ time.” Not much has changed so far, despite continual reforms. Most educational institutons still follow the mantra: a lot of knowledge = a lot of success. However, the run-away success of “digitisation” should make us change our tune.
Homework part 1: Improve access to education
IT and telecommunications companies are opening up access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for all schoolchildren. Mobile phones and broadband access make classrooms mobile and networked. In Columbia the national literacy programme provides mobile phones with learning programs for adults who can’t read. The chip designer, Arm Holdings, which is now owned by Soft Bank in Japan, is developing so-called “talking books” – cheap computers which are specifically designed for people who can’t read. The increased rate of learning achieved by the people taking part has already learning been confirmed by UNICEF.
Homework part 2: Improve the quality of education
Digital technologies make sophisticated, personalised learning processes possible. For example, IBM is creating learning programs for educational specialists which provide motivation through gaming elements and adapt the content to the pace of learning in real time. The technology company zSpace is developing 3D applications which provide virtual “bridges” from the classroom to the workplace of the future. Our education is highly prized, but also expensive. UNESCO estimates that about USD 30 bn. is needed every year in order to close existing gaps in the provision of education. This would also provide opportunities for private investors. In 2015 educational firms in the USA alone attracted USD 3 billion of spending. One example of this is EdCast in California which offers “intelligent” learning platforms for individuals and companies.
Homework part 3: Define new educational content
Back to Jack Ma. Should we carry on treating our kids as machines by cramming the knowledge of the last 200 years into them? Does it make sense in view of the fact that algorithms are already changing the world of work? Or should they (as Jack Ma suggests) learn things that distinguish them from machines?
Values, conviction, art and music, independent thinking, teamwork and empathy.
Access to education is a basic requirement if societies are to develop in a sustainable way.
Ziel Nr. 4 der Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) der UNO lautet denn auch: Für alle Menschen offene,
chancengerechte und hochwertige Bildung sowie Möglichkeiten zum lebenslangen Lernen sicherstellen.
Bildung stattet die Lernenden aller Altersgruppen mit den notwendigen Fähigkeiten und Werten aus, um verantwortliche WeltbürgerInnen zu sein.