GOING DIGITAL: Technologically-enabled forms of learning can help the 21st century workforce acquire sought-after skills
CREATIVITY is all around us and is applicable not just to traditional fields such as design and the arts, but also to disciplines such as science, mathematics and business, regardless of rank or role. The need for creative ideas has never been greater when grappling with challenges of a global economy, the environment and social issues.
Business leaders recognise that creativity and creative thinking are one of the most crucial elements of success in the modern world.
The recent Adobe Education Leadership Forum in Kuala Lumpur highlighted creativity as a priority in education.
Educators from across Asia Pacific came together to discuss the future of education, and came to a consensus that creativity is vital to the success of students when they enter the workforce. Results from Adobe’s Education, Creativity and Employability study revealed that an overwhelming 97 per cent of respondents in Asia Pacific feel that creative tools help students to better grasp theoretical concepts and enhance their overall understanding in the classroom.
Findings from the survey reveal that nearly 60 per cent of educators across the region feel that basic digital media skills are essential for the 21st century workforce. On top of that, nearly 50 per cent of them feel that students proficient in digital media skills have a better chance of being recruited.
Meanwhile, 62 per cent of educators in Southeast Asia agree that the use of creative tools by educators improves and enhances a student’s conceptual understanding. This is higher than the Asia Pacific average of 54 per cent.
“One of the most profound transformations in education is coming from the realisation that digital communication skills really do matter in everyday life; therefore, it is imperative that digital skills also matter in academic life. Creativity is not an elective, but rather, it is our future,” said Trevor Bailey, senior director, worldwide education and government, at Adobe Systems. “With the wide array of tools available today, a transformative change is needed to integrate creativity in education — for us to educate our future generations and prepare them for the road that lies ahead.”
Education, he added, plays a highly important role in moulding the young, and preparing them for the workforce. Thanks to the explosion of mobile devices, there is a need for today‘s educators to develop more engaging curriculum for digital-native students as the ways of teaching and learning have evolved drastically over the years.
“There are four major shifts we are seeing around the world today across campuses: they are experiencing a dramatic increase in the diversity of devices; they are constantly fostering creativity in teaching and learning; they are staying current and productive with the latest tools; and they are providing equity and access in a complex technology environment, which in turn level the playing field between the haves and have-nots,” said Bailey.
“With the introduction of digital tools in the classroom, we believe that this will bring about a positive impact, by not only fostering collaboration and innovation among students, but also enabling them to discover new ways of learning.”
He highlighted that there is a limitless number of tools which can stretch students’ imagination and enable them to create. Educators can leverage the tools to develop more engaging curriculum that builds digital experiences, increases interaction, collaboration and foster new ways of learning. Students can also use the tools to enhance their school projects and create engaging content that best showcases their ideas.
“Creative thinking is critical for problem-solving and our imperative is to foster creative thinking, collaboration and the development of digital skills. Today, it’s no longer about what you know, but what you make — it’s all about the ideas.”
Taylor’s Education Group chief learning officer Professor Daniel Tan is in agreement with Bailey.
Taylor’s approach to teaching and learning, he said, is best described as social learning which leverages on Gen-Y traits and their love affair with mobile technology.
“They are tech savvy, socially connected via devices continuously, have short attention span where they often skim through text and information quickly, achievement-oriented, they like feedback and recognition through things like thumbs up, team-oriented where they value teamwork and seek the input and affirmation of others,” said Tan.
“At Taylor’s, we are creating an environment where all that is happening. Since they are tech savvy, we make sure they can access their learning online. We try to synergise what they like to do into their learning — not as an afterthought, but part of their learning.”
Tan said the big picture for education has changed a lot from the traditional model where content or knowledge is controlled by teacher.
Technology, specifically the Internet, has rendered this scenario obsolete, as students now can find the latest and more comprehensive information on their own.
“The roles of teachers and students need to be rethought. Teachers/lecturers no longer know everything and they need to let students go explore and be content creators and let them be creative. For me, creativity is creating something that does not exist. Through tools available, students can create knowledge actively by exploring, discussing socially and sharing in groups. If they fail, they won’t feel bad because they fail as a group. Failure is an important process, one learns from failure and enabling one to build and grow upon its acceptance.”
Taylor’s has put in place facilities for this to happen.
Among them is Rewind @ Taylor’s, a technology that allows instructors to record what happens in their classrooms and make it available digitally to students.The source of the content is often a combination of audio, video, and content from the projector. Students can fast-forward, rewind or skip to particular segments they desire, therefore enabling them to learn in a self-directed and personalised manner, anytime, anywhere.
Another instrument is X-Space, Taylor’s Collaborative Classroom. It is designed to support students’ abilities in collaboration, problem-solving, creative thinking, interpersonal communication and ICT competencies.
“Students sit in groups and work together.
“Again this is social learning where they plug in their respective notebooks and share in both virtual and real-life discussions which are projected on big screen monitors for group members to see. Here they can build ideas and come up with different options where they brainstorm further for a solution. They learn very well this way,” said Tan.
There is also the clicker program which can be used in quizzes in class.
“Everyone is given a clicker and because it is anonymous, students won’t feel pressured or embarassed giving answers. It also allows lecturers to keep track of a student’s understanding of subject matter as results can be seen straight away.
“And, we go one step further: we could ask those who answer a certain way to find another who chose a different answer and discuss the reasons behind their choice. When they discuss, they will discover the right and wrong. This is also platfom to communicate, talk to somebody without the awkwardness.” ROZANA SANI | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times Learning Curve 25 May 2014