BUENOS AIRES — One of the most striking effects of this time of social isolation is the way we have turned to digital tools to adapt our behaviors and routines. And in no area of society is this more evident than the experience of studying and learning online.
Knowledge is no longer perceived as a large store of information to be absorbed within a limited period of study. The emphasis today is on fomenting aptitudes and skills needed for research, experimentation and knowledge generation. Those are now the key educational values.
The student isn't an object or target of education anymore, but the subject or protagonist of a personal learning process. Developing the ability to learn becomes the decisive element in the evolution of students. Real talent, in other words, is having adaptive skills in the face of new challenges and conditions.
Here in the 21st century, people can choose the skills they wish to forge to propel their life projects. Educational trajectories are becoming ever more personalized, and constantly remolded to fit personal needs.
The difficulty has become knowing how to use the information.
This personal experience will develop in an infinite universe of educational materials, considering that access to information has become simplified to the point of allowing access to data — or courses, essays or books — within seconds.
Encyclopedic information used to compile knowledge that is now easily, even freely, accessible on a device. So the difficulty has become knowing how to use this information. How do we make an intelligent link between so much information and our specialized area and particular goals?
E-graduation day? — Photo: Mohammad Shahhosseini
The work now is to ensure that we don't drown in a sea of data, that we can put the information in context and weave it into a logical, progressive thread of knowledge that must then be used to solve the problems of our particular project.
Another dimension of the challenge is knowing how to socialize the learning process. We run the risk of becoming solitary explorers of a vast universe of contents, potentially overwhelmed by the impossibility of catching or assimilating relevant parts.
We are experiencing a violent transformation in the very concept of education. As traditional models begin revealing their limitations, a new educational paradigm is taking shape. This is not just about replacing traditional teaching materials with digital tools or questioning the roles of the school or teachers. It is about redefining our understanding of education, learning and talent cultivation beyond a finite schooling period, into a continuous process of personal development.
And it is not just local and national governments that must involve themselves in this teaching and learning revolution, but every entity that elaborates and makes intensive use of knowledge. Education can no longer be seen as restricted to school and university activity. It is an integral and transformative experience that marries the basic right to learn with every citizen's freedom to decide his or her future.
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