What will post-pandemic Education look like?

Thoughts, changes, and the definitive implementation of Education 4.0

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

With the need for social isolation and a series of security measures, a field that has certainly undergone considerable changes was Education. When schools and universities around the world needed to close their doors to prevent the spread of the virus, alternative methods had to be adopted almost overnight. Online learning has become an urgent need, rather than an option.

Education in the last 50 years

In the last 50 years, Education in the world has undergone several changes. Perhaps, in some countries, still not as many as needed, but surprisingly, many things have become different. The number of people attending schools has increased, many new schools have been opened, and new teaching techniques have been implemented. Technology played a big role in the modernization of studies.

Education x Pandemic

During the 1918 flu pandemic (considered the most lethal in history, infecting about a third of the world’s population) the decision to close was up to schools and closings were not mandatory, meaning that some schools opened and closed, depending on the number of cases, and others were closed for weeks or even months.

Did students have homework during the 1918 isolation? Not much, according to Debbie Schaefer-Jacobs, curator at the National Museum of American History, teachers sent reading assignments, but schoolwork was minimal. If the students wanted to practice spelling, they used the alphabet or the speller, which were toys at that time. Outside school, children were busy with household chores. Many of them had jobs, as newspaper deliverers, or helped out on farms and factories.

In Brazil, with the year 1918 coming to an end, interim President Delfim Moreira, without waiting for votes from the Senate and the Chamber, issued a decree defining that no student would repeat the school year.

According to UNICEF, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Education has affected, in some way, all students in the world. The unexpected arrival of the pandemic and, subsequently, the closing of schools, represented a great effort of adaptation and innovation on the part of students, educators, and educational systems. Through TV, radio, the Internet, or the post office, schools have adapted teaching in different ways. Despite the difficulties, the educators responded proactively and showed great support for the changes. (United Nations 2020).

According to INEP (National Institute of Studies and Research), about 48 million students have stopped attending face-to-face activities in more than 180,000 schools across Brazil. In the State of São Paulo, about 3.8 million students and 200 thousand teachers had to adapt, not only to a new lifestyle in the face of isolation but also to teaching/learning within the remote model, through technology.

The results show us an even more challenging scenario that needs to be understood and deeply evaluated in order to map possibilities for future actions.

Educational Innovation — the changes we need

When face-to-face classes are permanently resumed, schools will face challenges they may never have witnessed. It will not be a resumption of where it left off, but it will require planning and new actions, perhaps never taken. This could be an impetus for positive and lasting changes in the education system.

It is the responsibility of all educators to use this deep and complex experience to drive significant changes in almost all aspects of Education: what, how, where, who, and when. In other words, education, the curriculum to pedagogy, from teacher to student, from learning to assessment, and from place to time, can and must be radically transformed.

In the video below, Dr. Shauli Mukherjee shares assessments, insights and answers questions about children’s education during the online age.

The World Economic Forum platform aims to work with its partners to provide better education, skills, and jobs for 1 billion people by 2030. The urgency around this agenda has gained momentum with the pandemic, and there is an opportunity to explore the actions needed to provide new skills for the workforce, training, and new delivery mechanisms for learning.

Based on the structure developed in Schools of the Future: Defining New Education Models for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Education 4.0 initiative aims to better prepare the next generation of talents through the transformation of education. The initiative will generate impact through four interconnected interventions:

:: Implementing new measurement mechanisms for skills
:: Incorporating learning experiences through technology
:: Empowering and training the workforce
:: Defining standards and priorities for each country

After all, what is Education 4.0?

For decades, researchers have announced the deepening of the digitalization process resulting from the information revolution and its consequences in education. Education 4.0 designates the educational approach and set of strategies that would be desirable to address the needs of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, a term coined by Klaus Schwab to describe this whole new generation of technological advances that we are witnessing and that are integrating to constitute the next wave of innovation, including Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, Precision Medicine, among others.

So that we can understand this educational movement, let’s look back to the moments that Education has already passed, called: Education 1.0, Education 2.0, and Education 3.0.

Education 1.0 — refers to schools in the 12th century that, according to Rui Fava, (Doctor in Educational Sciences from the Universidad Católica de Santa Fé, Argentina, and founding partner of Atmã Educar), occurred between Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance. In this period, the church was responsible for Education in monasteries, which became cultural centers playing an important role in Western history. The students looked for and chose a teacher to study, they sat at their feet “in an attitude of admiration and submission” (FAVA, 2014) to receive their teachings. The master was seen as “[…] a character who, on top of his knowledge, experience, practice, drew his conclusions and transformed them into sentences that were received and accepted by students who did not dare to doubt, contradict, refute or refute them” (FAVA, 2014).

Education 2.0 — provided mass education, due to a strong influence of the Industrial Revolution that changed social and work relations (FAVA, 2014). This model of education has its principles still in force today in most schools. “[…] The master passes on to his apprentices all the knowledge necessary for them to have personal and professional success in the chosen area” (FAVA, 2014). The methodology is centered on the teacher, who teaches the students, concentrated in spaces specially designed for these face-to-face meetings, providing a synchronism similar to that of the factories, where everyone must be present in the room at the same time and learning at the same pace.

Education 3.0 — It is known as the alliance between technology and education. In the post-industrial society, the family, society, and the school are no longer the same. Globalization has reduced the size of the world from medium to small (FAVA, 2014). At the end of the 90s, a new revolution began, supported by the creation and development of the Internet, which brought “[…] transformations in the role of individuals, in the management of companies, in the configuration of governments”. The Internet allowed people to connect and relate in a way never seen before “[…] work, share, interact, communicate, teach, study, learn” (FAVA) from anywhere, anytime, interconnected through their computers.

Education 4.0 — as the Industrial Revolution 4.0 is transforming the world, the transformation of the educational sector will make it more personalized, point-to-point, and an ongoing process. It will meet the needs of Industry 4.0, allowing the workforce and machines to align to explore new possibilities. It will create a plan for the future of learning — from learning at school to learning at the workplace. This allows the use of project-based learning, research, problem-solving, digital narrative production, and the development of hands-on activities.

:: Personalized Learning — Education 4.0 will allow personalized learning for students, depending on their abilities. This implies that there will be individual learning processes for each student. It will certainly have a positive impact, as it will allow students to learn at their own pace. This will result in a better understanding and a better overall result. It will also help teachers identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses and guide them accordingly.

:: Choice of educational tools — counts on the technology/devices used by the students. Although each discipline has its own set of knowledge and information, the path may vary. This means that students will be able to choose the tools and techniques by which they want to acquire knowledge. Techniques such as blended learning, BYOD (Bring your own device) and inverted classrooms are some examples.

:: Project-based learning — The freelance economy is growing and will continue to do so. This means that today’s students will need to adapt to this style of work. They will need to hone their skills and learn how to apply and shape them according to the situations. Thus, students should be familiar with project-based learning. This part will teach organizational skills, time management skills, and collaborative skills, which can be used later in academic and professional careers.

:: Specific field experience — How the integration of technology in specific domains facilitates more efficiency; the educational curriculum will now accommodate more skills that require human knowledge and personal interaction, which can help students in their future internships, projects, etc.

:: Data analysis — Education 4.0 will train students to apply theoretical knowledge and use human reasoning to examine patterns and predict trends.

:: Changes in the standard of examination and evaluation — the evaluations will not be based only on the current standards. They will be done through the analysis of your learning journey through practical, experiential projects or fieldwork.

For Elio D’Anna, author and entrepreneur, the conventional schools and universities, which have followed standards for centuries, need a reformulation, as they are no longer adequate or capable of preparing the next generations for the challenges of this new world that reigns Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Virtual Learning.

The impact of technology on the education sector will not only transform the way it is transmitted, but also the way students perceive teaching. It will change teaching-learning methodologies to prepare students’ future. It is time to witness this change so that we can move towards a progressive, intellectual world, focused on knowledge and ready for the future.

How to adapt to a world still in a pandemic and with so many inequalities

The outlook is very uncertain. The pandemic exposed our vulnerability to crises and revealed how precarious and interdependent the economies we have built can be. In a world that unfortunately still has so many inequalities, how do we have access to this technology?

The OUP website, Oxford University Press, made available several of its materials and resources free of charge so that teachers and students can continue teaching, studies and research:

We are committed to supporting our customers and communities, and ensuring that education and research can continue on through this challenging time.

Like many organizations, we are taking the threat posed by the coronavirus seriously. Our teams across the world are working to support and protect our people, customers, and communities, and ensure that education and research can continue in the face of these challenging times.

As such, we have made some of our learning resources freely accessible for an extended period as well as signing up to support the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) initiative which relaxes some key higher education copyright terms to give academics, libraries, and students increased access to learning resources during this difficult period. In addition, to assist researchers, medical professionals, policy makers, and others who are working to address the pandemic, we have opened up access to our relevant research and article; made medical resources available to NHS workers in England, Scotland, and Wales; signed a Wellcome Trust statement pledging to make relevant research available for the duration of the outbreak; and joined efforts from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to make research and data immediately accessible via PubMed Central and other public repositories.

You can access useful resources via the link below:

The difficulties we are facing make us reflect on the true role of Education and what renewals we must apply to improve it. We are still wandering through a dense fog. It is difficult to know how students, teachers, and educational organizations will act around the world, in the months to come, in the years to come. However, we must start thinking about what is to come — and what actions we should take. I hope that, out of the pandemic, we can really revamp Education. The changes we advocate are not new, but they never managed to gain strength as in the current scenario. It is necessary to rethink what is right, desirable, and possible to leave as a legacy for future generations.







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