School management in the post-digital era

Much is said about the challenges for students and teachers in post-digital era education. Hybrid, competence-based and project-based learning. Teachers who work as mentors and content curators. But what about school management? How is the mission of creating other models of educational practices and mapping strategies for innovation in educational institutions impacted by technology?

The theme was the focus of the speech by Miguel Thompson, director-general of the Singularities Institute, during Bett Educar 2019, which provoked reflection about the changes brought about by technology to our daily lives and how they impact the classrooms.

Understand the challenges that technology brings to educational managers and what are the possible ways for the reinvention of school.

Education in the post-digital era

First of all, it is important to understand what exactly the post-digital era is. This period is nothing but the present. After a great wave of other technologies emerging, we are feeling their first effects on the labor market, social relations and, of course, education.

With widespread access to information through cheap and better quality broadband services and the popularization of laptops, smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices, students arrive in the classroom with a very different worldview than young people from previous decades had. More questioners, they are not content with simple answers – these they can get by asking Google a question or watching YouTube tutorials – or with boring activities.

Strategies such as Gamification, Flipped Classroom, and other new learning models that are part of Active Methodologies emerge – a not so recent idea, but one that is gaining more space in contemporary discussions about the education. All of these put the student at the center of learning and use dynamic activities to promote more classroom engagement and effective content absorption.

Likewise, teachers are faced with the need to review their way of acting, since they are no longer the exclusive holders of knowledge. About them, Miguel Thompson says that “the function is in decline and it is good that it is really in crisis. Now, new names are beginning to emerge as a mediator, tutor, facilitator”, he explains, referring to the new roles that the educator must play in the classroom.

How to do post-digital educational school management?

Given this scenario of profound transformations in learning models and relationships in educational institutions, what changes for the educational manager? Miguel lists some of the main challenges:

Manager must have synthesis ability

Working increasingly as a strategist and less in operational roles is one of the challenges facing managers in a reality where many of the administrative and bureaucratic tasks tend to be absorbed by technology and automated. In addition, the tendency is for education to become increasingly horizontal and collaborative, with different actors participating more actively in improving the quality of teaching. Therefore, more capacity for synthesis or orchestration of those involved in the educational process is required. “And this synthesis should be done using a collaborative analysis to guide the educational strategy.” That is, the manager must act in order to organize and transform these feedbacks into concrete and innovative actions.

Context and relevance

Approaching the reality of the young is another need for managers in the new times. “We need to bring academic rigor, but with a young culture,” says Miguel. Understanding students’ new technologies, language, and thinking will give the manager tools to propose activities that really make sense and generate real student engagement.

Imagination taken seriously

Innovation happens from imagination. The exercise of “what if”, very common in Design Thinking, for example, is, in Miguel Thompson’s opinion, fundamental for the school to glimpse new possibilities and expand its performance. “School today is still unimaginative. Imagination is what drives the movement, ”he says, citing the emergence of maker culture and active methodologies as an example.

Dialogue and horizontality

Multidisciplinarity, exchange of experiences, collaboration, diversity. This is the future of education. And the educational manager has an important role in ensuring all this by managing the different voices that become part of the educational process. “It has the function of creating a human enterprise and promoting the confluence of experience networks,” explains Miguel. This includes maintaining more horizontal relationships with the entire school community, including family members, and breaking the “disconnects” caused by digital culture such as narcissism and self-centeredness.

To learn more about school management in the post-digital era, check out the full interview we did with Miguel Thompson during Bett 2019

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