SPROWT ARTICLE | Pedro Fernandes


The Digital Age and Transformation in the Education Ecosystem

The Digital Age touches on the most basic aspects of our daily lives, with digital transformation being the best definition of the “new normal” in a constantly changing world. In a keynote lecture delivered in 2014, Mia Couto referred to today’s society as the society of the ephemeral, where everything is transient and is born already dying.

Despite numerous technological advances in different areas of humanity, more than 3.6 billion people still lack access to the internet, and over 260 million children do not have access to school education.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced global changes in various areas of society, with physical contact being one of the main ones, challenging the continuity of the traditional in-person teaching model.

On a corporate level, at the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution, organizations worldwide felt compelled to outline continuous digital transformation strategies to remain relevant and innovative in the services they provide to their clients.

While, on the education front, the adoption of new teaching methods was being done hesitantly and slowly, COVID-19 led to an abrupt disruption of education, accelerating the adoption of new teaching and learning practices in digital environments without prior planning, as a way to overcome the limitations imposed by the pandemic. In record time, educational institutions had to readjust to the demands that survival required of them.

Today, it is essential not to view the reinvention of education as something tailored for emergency situations or considered merely as distance learning. On the other hand, although quality is a debatable and subjective concept, it is important to address and deconstruct the “prejudice” of lower quality associated with online education when compared to in-person education. In an increasingly convergent world between what is real and virtual, autonomy and flexibility in the knowledge-building process represent two of the greatest benefits to be explored by students in their learning journey, allowing them to explore the sharing of experiences, knowledge, and a spirit of collaboration through technological innovations.

The mathematician Clive Humby is said to have coined the phrase “data is the new oil.” In my view, data alone adds little value. What matters is the story they tell and the competitive advantage they bring. Eventually, looking at the AI and machine learning algorithm aspect, we can understand that one of the “at-risk” professions in the near future will be that of the teacher in its most basic hierarchical concept of the teacher-student relationship. The future of education goes far beyond simple online classes via different technological platforms, with curricular content that remains unchanged over the years. The future of education and everything that involves its ecosystem, encompassing people, processes, and technology, will see permanent changes in the curricular content of courses, much influenced by the constant data analysis based on what humanity needs most for its survival.