The school of the future is not a building, it is a culture of competence development, a pedagogical culture that has an active role in the development process of the information society. Schools and educational institutions need comprehensive development of pedagogy and a new pedagogical leadership; this requires systemic change in the operational culture. A change can only be made by ensuring that pedagogical leadership is actively oriented towards the future.
The key to changing the operational culture is leadership. Leadership is committed to the organisational values, the vision, the strategy and the discussion culture, among other things. Together, these factors determine the organisation’s ability to respond to challenges in society and renew itself. Without the right kind of leadership, changing and developing the operational culture is not possible. In that case, instilling the new methods and the results of development as a part of the everyday life at the school or organisation becomes difficult. Leadership must be future-oriented and systemic.
Pedagogical change is needed, because the skills the learners will need in the society and working life of the future have changed. Our knowledge of how human beings learn has also greatly increased in the last few decades – but pedagogy, teaching practices and school structures have not developed accordingly. Teaching and teachers easily become an objective and a value in themselves, when learning and learners should be the ultimate goal at centre stage. The change in pedagogy is linked to the concept of learning of the organisation and the teachers – in fact, the greatest change in thinking is required of the teachers.
Developing the learning environment of the future
A modern learning environment supports the learners’ growth, learning and self-direction and gives them an opportunity to set their own goals and assess activities. The equipment in the learning environment supports learners’ development as members of the modern information society, and it enables the use of computers, other media technology and information networks, promoting the learners’ collaborative activity, self-direction, creativity and innovation.
In an open learning environment the learners can set their own goals, build knowledge collaboratively and create their own content and questions. Open learning environments make different kinds of learning processes possible. A learning environment that promotes contemporary learning theories enables physically and socially distributed cognition and offers cognitive tools – thinking aids – to learners. Thinking aids can include, for example, different kinds of concepts, theories, diagrams and drawings, machines, computer software, or forms of activity. The learning environment supports socially shared cognition by enabling interaction among the learners and peer learning in a learning community, among other things, as well as by supporting different kinds of interaction models and the sharing of expertise. A functional learning environment enables phenomenon based learning and holistic review of the phenomena to be studied, and it supports authenticity of learning.
The design process of the modern learning environments starts with the modelling of learning processes, learning activities and leaners’ interaction patterns. When designing and developing a learning environment, it is important to consider the ways in which learning environments support the learners’ shared representations, their creation and presentation. A learning environment should offer learners and teachers a diverse selection of different kinds of planning and development tools, methods and media for the development, presentation and assessment of shared representations.
Re-thinking from Finland !
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