The educational landscape in the Philippines is beset by different reforms, challenges and issues. The 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore adopted the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which aims to “implement economic integration initiatives” to create a single market across ASEAN nations. Unto this end, regional economic integration includes: (1) a single market and production base, (2) a highly competitive economic region, (3) a region of fair economic development, and (4) a region fully integrated into the global economy. Cooperation unto these ends include human resource development; recognition of professional qualifications, the free movements of goods and services, among others. These impact immediately on the educational landscape: people trained professionally in our schools are trained not only for our market, but for ASEAN markets; they must be competent not only for local standards.
Another challenge that faces educational landscape in the Philippines is the 21st century skills concept, motivated by the belief that teaching students the most relevant, useful, in-demand, and universally applicable skills should be prioritized in today’s schools, and by the related belief that many schools may not sufficiently prioritize such skills or effectively teach them to students.
The basic idea is that students, who will come of age in the 21st century, need to be taught different skills than those learned by students in the 20th century, and that the skills they learn should reflect the specific demands that will placed upon them in a complex, competitive, knowledge-based, information-age, technology-driven economy and society.
While 21st century skills are relevant to all areas of schooling and academic study, and the skills may be taught in a wide variety of in-school and outside-of-school settings, there are a few primary ways in which 21st century skills intersect with efforts to improve schools.
Teachers may be more intentional about teaching cross-disciplinary skills in subject-area courses. For example, in a science course students might be required to learn research methods that can also be applied in other disciplines; articulate technical scientific concepts in verbal, written, and graphic forms; present lab results to a panel of working scientists; or use sophisticated technologies, software programs, and multimedia applications as an extension of an assigned project.
Lately, academic institutions are currently faced with the height of what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It covers Artificial intelligence, Automation, Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing, Intelligent robots, Self-driving cars, Neuro-technological brain enhancements, and Genetic editing. This revolution, happening at exponential speed brings with it exciting possibilities, new solutions to global challenges, and employment opportunities for jobs that have yet to be invented. At the same time it comes with the potential for technological unemployment that drives downward pressure on income security and social agency while society adapts to the new normal. Combined with climate change and rapid global population growth this century is the most challenging that our species has ever faced. Governments, parents and specifically educators are puzzled in their quest on how to prepare present and future generations to thrive in this transforming world.
As a result it’s vital to re-think of an education that develops human potential rather than competing with machines. An education system designed for an industrial economy that is now being automated requires transformation, from a system based on facts and procedures to one that actively applies that knowledge to collaborative problem solving.
This task poses difficulty given the unattractive financial incentives of an education model rooted in the late 19th century, driven by an antiquated text book and measurement industry that regards teaching as delivery rather than design. For decades this industry imagined that teaching as delivery, in the form of instruction, would mean that human teachers could eventually be replaced by computers. But this has misunderstood the nature of teaching and learning which is a uniquely personal and social activity between people that caters to every learners’ changing needs, unique talents, passions, and interests. All these, set them aside from the machines that are now emerging as part of this next industrial revolution.
Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970) posited that “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. Toffler wasn’t suggesting that reading and writing would become unimportant, rather he was emphasizing that in times of rapid change in an uncertain future the most valuable skill would be learning how to learn rather than simply reciting a set of facts and procedures.
Toffler adds, de-siloing the curriculum and designing learning experiences that encourage learners to make things by collaboratively solving interesting real world challenges will be the key to thriving in this century. He further suggests, success can be attained by working alongside our machines rather than competing with them, by programming them rather than being programmed by them.
The Philippine educational landscape faced with all these challenges, concerns and issues, sets a proper timing for UIC, as a Catholic university that envisions the transformation of society in response to the signs of the times, to provide teachers further knowledge and skills’ development by acquiring a degree in Master of Arts in Education major in Information Technology Integration. This program will prepare teachers to navigate through the different emerging technology tools and content available, and develop them as individuals who can curate and create original content and tools for effective teaching and learning. Ultimately, teachers shall be able to contribute to knowledge and demonstrate ability to do scholarly work in the area of information technology integration in any relevant discipline.