All change? Don’t hold your breath.
Mark as “Pending”: a return to the status-quo
There’s been talk of things changing when countries start opening up their societies again. But equally, there’s an uneasy feeling that, sadly, most things will return to ‘normal’ as quickly as they’re allowed to. We were so quick to take a sledgehammer to the whole system as a means of protecting the vulnerable, but we’re not so quick to maintain the benefits.
In education, which has been notoriously slow to adopt innovation and change, this disruption should be seen as an opportunity to make wholesale changes to the system, and in the Northern Hemisphere, schools might yet take that opportunity, rather than spring back as soon as possible.
An academic from an Australian University shed some light on a way of learning that was fascinating, not only because it challenged the traditional approach taken by universities but because it rethought everything, not just an aspect or two, and managed to do it authentically. The Engineering course he was talking about was redesigned only a couple of years ago uses an approach called Practice-Based Education (PBE), which has a pedagogy rooted in Problem Based Learning (PBL), but seeks to take this methodology further.
The limitations with PBL are that it is often constrained by the educational institutions and structures that surround it, which results in only pockets of the education being delivered that way, leaving it limited to specific subjects or teachers. PBE, on the other hand, seeks to replicate real-world conditions to familiarize students with the complexity of large systems. The particular course that is taught using PBE is an Engineering course where the students are introduced to a real-world industry problem that they have to solve. The course content is divided into ‘credentials’ — selected based on the problem — that the students learn in their own time and are required to effectively solve the problem.
This approach doesn’t just do away with things like the timetable and individual units of work but tries, as authentically as possible, to replicate the working conditions students will face when they graduate by making them responsible, collaborative and genuinely learn in a transdisciplinary fashion. The entry process for the course was also vastly different from the way they’d selected students before by not assuming all the knowledge needed to be learnt ‘upfront’ and by interviewing students irrespective of their high school marks. The outcome was also a more diverse cohort of students, which arguably led to better solutions.
In all sorts of industry, one might ask if it’s not time to stop tinkering around the edges and focus on long-standing issues, such as timetables and assessments. And maybe, just maybe, we can use this transition to wield the scalpel once and for all.
‘All change? Don’t hold your breath’ is the nineteenth edition of ‘The Provocation’ series. You can sign-up to receive the latest episode directly to your inbox days before it is published online: https://mailchi.mp/notosh.com/the-provocation