Fernando Valenzuela Migoya
President
Global Edtech Impact Alliance SA de CV

Podcast

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Expert Contributor

We Are Not in an Epoch of Change but, Rather, a Change of Epoch

By Fernando Valenzuela Migoya | Tue, 06/07/2022 - 11:00

A teacher throughout a lifelong career would probably impact around 3,000 students, and we have all grown to recognize and appreciate teachers who changed our life. A teacher who helped us through rough moments, a teacher who inspired us to pursue bigger dreams, or a teacher who nurtured our self-confidence. This shows how the role of a teacher goes well beyond any particular subject. We remember the human impact more than any content they shared.

Today, however, we are facing unprecedented challenges in education. Several studies point to Latin America as among the regions that will suffer the greatest negative impact after the pandemic.

There is no time to waste, but time is not the only thing that we waste when our education is inefficient. The fact that we have more capacity than what is effectively deployed is a waste that happens in all facets:

  • Are we not capturing all the potential from every student?
  • Is there a better way to take advantage of the time we spend learning?
  • Are we maximizing the use of our spaces for learning?
  • Can we get more from our face-to-face interactions?
  • Do we get the full benefit of the connectivity that our students are able to get?
  • Is our institution able to take full advantage of the innovation happening outside?

We can certainly be honest and recognize how many opportunities are wasted by not designing for learning in a way that matches the digital world we live in. But the answer does not reside in technology; it is all about new ways of collaborating.

We continue to act on the mistake of thinking that within our organization, our industry, our university, our school, or our country we have all the resources required to innovate and perform. Our main challenge is that we do not believe that we can design for something different. And in learning, this is even more evident.

We are replicating methods and processes that, at maximum, replace what we did decades ago with some use of technology. We are far from designing experiences that augment, connect, and expand our learning in ways that many other industries, such as fashion, gaming, and tech-startups, are continuously re-defining.

We are not in an epoch of change. This is, rather, a change of epoch.

For the first time in human history, the intensity of learning is at its peak, with three components reaching their highest levels ever:

  1. The greatest intensity to know who.
  2. The greatest intensity to know how.
  3. The greatest intensity to know why.

This epoch is also demonstrating a significant decrease in the intensity to know what, which by the way, reached its maximum level during the industrial age that is now being rapidly transformed.

We can now expect that our learning practices will require a deep transformation as well. We will enter an accelerated era of physical products built more from science and technology than from human production lines, while our learning will continue to be grounded in the content production line.

Barely a generation ago, executives could work in the same company and the same office for many years. But the image of the “corporate ladder” is being replaced by a different set of values. These workers are empowered by technology, impressively resourceful, get things done with an app for finding any path forward and make it up as they go.

My Prototype Beats Your Five-Year Business Plan

These defiant, nonconformist, adaptable visionaries will accelerate the depreciation of a traditional degree and replace it with the initiative, connection, and collaboration to solve problems through an abundance of knowledge and scarcity of known paths for solutions.

More young companies in unsuspecting places are pursuing many new avenues of innovation.

The signals are clear:

  • There is more activity in remote work than ever. Jobs are no longer linked 100 percent with location.
  • A perfect storm is forming and a new generation of leaders will emerge, redefining the way we do business.
  • Global investment in education technology has reached the same level as all investment in technology for Latin America.
  • Due to the consequences of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, hundreds of countries will face an unprecedented combination of crises in financing, energy and food at the same time.
  • Physical spaces with the ability to adapt and complement humans with technology for both active and passive human endeavors will become prevalent.
  • Generation Silver,” that older generation that drives the silver economy, will continue to be productive and learning for many, many years. (Who will build the first multi-generational school?)
  • We are entering the era of democratized content production at scale. One teacher can now impact millions of learners.
  • If you search on LinkedIn – as I did – for people who currently hold jobs for which there is no bachelor or master’s degree required, and if they were to leave, their replacement would have to fit a different role, you will certainly find thousands!

My call to action is to design for learning with a different set of principles:

  • Develop the skill of foresight and design for alternative futures.
  • Identify key assets and develop paths for appreciation rather than depreciation: time, information, investment, learning, trust, impact.
  • Create environments that are differentiated and conducive to learning; a face-to-face encounter will have to be a fantastic experience, fabulous and unforgettable.
  • Ensure that the boundaries between teachers and learners are diluted.
  • Promote liberty as the keystone for learning.
  • Build experiences grounded in active learning and experiential learning, to promote a state of permanent collaboration and co-creation.
  • The diversity of individuals and their diversity of experiences will become assets of enormous wealth.

Learning is not an activity or a place, it is a force.