Category Archives: Globalisation

Staying ahead of the game

I’ve just had the pleasure of being a part of an intensive two-day Deep Learning Lab in Christchurch with educators from the NZ schools involved in the global NPDL project. Final day keynote speaker was Kaila Colbin, a TEDx licensee, and NZ Ambassador for Singularity University. Kaila shared a compelling message about the impact of exponential change, explaining how our traditional, linear approaches to coping with change simply won’t cut it as we step forward into the future.

Much of this change is can be seen in the area of technology, across all walks of life, from education, to transport, to health and so on. New Zealand current stands pretty well in this area according to the recently released Digital Evolution Index (DEI) from the Fletcher business school at Tufts University in Boston. This report is basically a digital pulse of 60 developed countries.

The report is a data-driven holistic evaluation of the progress of the digital economy across 60 countries, combining more than 100 different indicators across four key drivers: Supply Conditions, Demand Conditions, Institutional Environment, and Innovation and Change. It segments the 60 countries into Stand Outs, Stall Outs, Break Outs and Watch Outs. New Zealand is one of three countries are notable as standouts even within the Stand Out segment, the others being Singapore and the UAE. The report identifies these three as having a unique policy-led digital strategy and a narrative that may be considered by other nations as worthy of emulation or adoption.

This is great news for New Zealand, and credit to the many innovators and risk takers in our midst who have stepped out and created opportunities to develop new products and services that utilise these technologies. It’s also a testament to the many businesses, tertiary providers and schools that provide opportunities for staff/students to pursue their interest in digital technologies – and gives weight to the argument for a digital technologies curriculum I can hear some say.

While we have good cause to celebrate the result, Kaila’s words regarding exponential change keep ringing in my ears – and reminding me that in this world we cannot afford to sit on our laurels. As the DEI report highlights in the section about countries in the Stand Out category:

“…sustaining consistently high momentum over time is challenging, as innovation-led expansions are often lumpy phenomena. To stay ahead, these countries need to keep their innovation engines in top gear and generate new demand, failing which they risk stalling out.”

Herein lies the crunch. The biggest challenge, according to this report, will inevitably come from the group of countries in the Break Out category – those that are low-scoring in their current states of becoming digital but are evolving rapidly. According to the report key Break Out countries that have the potential to become the Stand Out countries of the future are China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Russia.

Which brings me to the point of my reflection. Our continued success in this area will require a substantial amount of effort and focus if we aren’t to be overtaken. In our schools this means a significant change in emphasis in the way we think about the ways we teach about, with and through digital technologies, for while the evidence at the ‘output’ end is currently encouraging, the evidence of what is happening for the next generation of digital expertise in NZ isn’t as hopeful.

Rachel Bolsted’s recent research published by NZCER paints a picture of increasingly focused use of digital technologies to support both student and teacher learning, but falls well short of being convincing that the sector really has a grasp of the significance of the exponential nature of the change afoot.

The latest OECD report on Students, computers and learning paints a similarly concerning picture, highlighting across all countries involved that while teachers say they value 21st century pedagogies their practice doesn’t reflect that. In several of the cross-country comparisons in this report, New Zealand appears close to or below the OECD average.

The issue here is about the pace of change, and the fact that we cannot afford to maintain an approach based on our traditional ‘linear’ models of change management and approaches to PLD. While NZ may be able to celebrate having a high level digital strategy approach as identified by the DEI, we have to ensure this is being exploited fully at the everyday level in our schools and kura, and taken advantage of to ensure that our young people are given the opportunity to grow fully as innovators, design thinkers and digitally fluent young people. This is not about simply focusing then on developing a greater number of coders or computer engineers (as necessary as those skills may be) – but must focus on building the capabilities and contribution of a wide range of people, that includes the coders and engineers, but also the writers, communicators, designers, artists… building and creating multi-disciplinary teams for whom collaborative activity comes naturally, and where the principles of design thinking strategies guide their involvement.

Global Story Map

Digial Promise map

In a world where "connectedness" is a prevalent theme for future-focused learners and learning, understanding what is happening at a global level becomes important, and making connections with others in other parts of the world an essential part of that. Increasingly, teachers I work with are finding ways of using digital technologies to mediate connections that provide authentic learning opportunities for their students.

Stories have the power to cut through rhetoric, data points, and policies to show what globally connected learning truly looks like – the successes, challenges, and everything else. The map above is curated by Digital Promise Global and links to stories that are submitted by people from around the world.  Digital Promise Global launched the Global Story Map to showcase stories from educators, schools, and programs that support global learners. Start exploring stories here.

If you have a story worth sharing then add it to the map.

Thinking more about Globalisation

Global Economy maps

I've just arrived back from a trip to Chengdu, China where I was present for the signing of the Sichuan Christchurch Education Alliance. Nearly 40 educators from greater Christchurch were present, with a key focus of the time spent on developing relationships that are intended to lead to opportunities for educational exchanges between Christchurch and Chengdu teachers and students.  

Globalisation will undoubtedly be one of the most significant influences on modern learning practice as we look further into the 21st century. The need for students to have well developed understandings of cultural literacy, inter-cultural awareness and a basic grasp of international language(s) must inform how we shape our curriculum and the sorts of learning experiences we provide for our young people. It's no longer satisfactory to simply teach about these countries and issues – we need to be exploiting the power of online technologies and authentic learning contexts to enable our students to interact directly with people in other places, and to collaborate on projects that lead them to these deeper understandings of the impact of globalisation.

The trip to Chengdu has reinforced this for me – and coming back to NZ on the day of the national election and the associated conversations about what people in our nation consider important even more-so. We cannot ignore the impact that being a part of a global village, with its global economy, will have on the lives of our young people into the future. Preparing them in this way must be a priority in our curriculum ad everyday practice. 

The map at the top of this post links to a post of 38 maps that explain the global economy – a useful resource for educators interested in thinking about the impact of the global economy and how to relate this to students – as is this link showing where the oldest and youngest people live in the world's populations. This sort of information can be very useful in forming a more global picture of the sorts of issues that face us here in NZ, now and into the future. 

Priorities for a better world


Continuing with my learnings from the DEANZ conference in Christchurch – we've been hearing a lot about how the use of open, flexible and distance learning strategies can assist in achieving global connections that lead to meaningful and pursposeful change for a better world into the future. 

One of the morning's speakers has been Dr Jonghwi Park, programme specialist in ICT in Education at UNESCO Bangkok. She provided us with an excellent overview of initiatives that are in place to address UNESCO's Millennium Development Goals, with an overarching emphasis on education as a way of addressing this. 

The importance of engaging with communities from around the world in developing a collective view of what is important and where we should expend our energies (and money) is important here. Dr Park introduced us to the MyWorld2015 initative where individuals can set their top six priorities for change, and then become a part of a global community contributing ideas and actions to achieve this. 

It's interesting to note that to date, over 2 million people have contributed, with education appearing at the top of the priority list based on the votes from these people (see below)

myworld graph_s

As New Zealand teachers prepare to go back to school for the new term next week, this site may well be worth bookmarking as a place to take your students as a starting point for some authentic, inquiry-based social action projects.



Using science to create NZ’s future

Here's a great opportunity to engage your students and community in  a game-based conversation about the future of NZ. Pounamu is a free, online game set in a future world where EVERYONE in New Zealand can use science as easily as they can use a computer now. Anyone can play; from primary school students to research scientists, from young entrepreneurs to kuia and koro.

The game will be live on 29-30 August, from midnight to midnight – all you need to do is register now to be able to access and participate. 

Players post micro-forecasts (concise ideas – 140 characters, like twitter) of future possibilities and build on, or reshape other players’ ideas. You can play for five minutes and share one idea, or play for the whole game and post hundreds of possible futures. Pounamu will have ’hubs’ scattered around the country on game days, so players who want to play in teams, or don’t have access to the internet, or just want to play in a social environment, have the opportunity to do so.

Pounamu is collaboration between the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and NanotechnologyStratEDGY Strategic Foresight; and Professor Shaun Hendy, winner of the Prime Minister's Science Media Communication prize and author of Get Off The Grass which he wrote with the late Sir Paul Callaghan.


Disruptive Technologies that will transform us

McKinsey_disruptiveHaving recently spoken in Hamilton about the Ten Trends at a CORE Breakfast my mind is already thinking forward to what lies on the horizon for 2013, so it was with interest I read this morning the latest McKinsey report on Disruptive Technologies: advances that will transorm life, business, and the global economy

What I like about the McKinsey report is that it attempts to look beyond the usual hype and speculation that comes with an emerging technology, and dig a little deeper to examine the potential impact of that technology, why they consider it disruptive, and what both the benefits and challenges may be.

The report identifies twelve disruptive technologies, and provides a very useful analysis of each – supported by clear and easy to interpret graphics that make the task of digesting all of the information that much easier. 

The image below is captured from the pop-up gallery of disruptive technologies that can be accessed from the web site. It lists the twelve technologies that are examined in the report, showing the estimated potential economic impact of each.

Mckinsey_disruptive gallery

Of interest to me is the criteria used to determine what the McKinsey group actually mean by a disruptive technology. They identify three key things – speed, range of impact, and potential scale of economic value, which are represented in the report as follows…

  • The technology is rapidly advancing or experiencing breakthroughs. Disruptive technologies typically demonstrate a rapid rate of change in capabilities in terms of price/performance relative to substitutes and alternative approaches, or they experience breakthroughs that drive accelerated rates of change or discontinuous capability improvements.
  • The potential scope of impact is broad. To be economically disruptive, a technology must have broad reach.
  • Significant economic value could be affected. An economically disruptive technology must have the potential to create massive economic impact.
  • Economic impact is potentially disruptive. Technologies that matter have the potential to dramatically change the status quo.

Then there's the 'so what' part of thinking about all of this. Towards the end of the report, the authors summarise what they see as the implications for governments and policy makers. Among their advice is the following which I see as having huge implications for those of us involved in preparing young people for their future;

The biggest challenges for policy makers could involve the effects of technologies that have potentially large effects on employment. By 2025, technologies that raise productivity by automating jobs that are not practical to automate today could be on their way to widespread adoption. Historically, when labor-saving technologies were introduced, new and higher value-adding jobs were created. This usually happens over the long term. However, productivity without the innovation that leads to the creation of higher value-added jobs results in unemployment and economic problems, and some new technologies such as the automation of knowledge work could significantly raise the bar on the skills that workers will need to bring to bear in order to be competitive.

With the world of work predicted to change so markedly, it's simply no longer acceptable to sit back and us the nature of our assessment and other excuses as reasons for no pushing forward with a more future-focused view of our curriculum and how we present it. As educators we  need to be thinking more critically about the offerings we provide in our curriculum, and just how seriously we take the 'front half' of our (NZ) curriculum framework that deals with key competencies, for example.

In our schools, and in society more generally, we have some serious questions to address…

  • Do we truly understand and have grappled with the implications of what it means to 'raise thebar' on the skills that workers will need to bring to bear in order to be competitive? What does this mean for our students? what does this mean for the current and next generation of teachers in their own professional lives?
  • In our vision for the students in our schools currently, what is the emphasis we give to creating 'knowledge workers' for the future? Do we have an accepted understandin of what that means? How do we assess this?
  • As we move towards a more knowledge-based economy, with greater levels of automation of how do we avoid the consequent potential for unemployment and negative economic impact? 

Reading about global education

I've just been engaged in a workshop with a group of teachers considering the issue of globalisation and the concept of global citizenship. Such issues are a significant focus of the The New Zealand Curriculum which has Future Focus as one of the 8 principles. Globalisation and citizenship are two of the four issues that this principle focuses on.

Future focus is about supporting learners to recognise that they have a stake in the future, and a role and responsibility as citizens to take action to help shape that future.’ (NZC page 9).

In a recent evaluation report looking at the extent to which the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum are evident in schools' curricula and enacted in classrooms ERO concludes:

"This (future focus) was the least evident of all the principles at school curriculum level in classrooms’ curricula. It had not been adequately examined and discussed with teachers by school leaders and therefore most of its aspects were not understood. There continues to be some confusion amongst teachers about the relationship between future focus and 21st century, or e-learning, and lifelong learning.

Rather than using the principles as a starting point for curriculum design, they have often been something that has been grafted on to the curriculum retrospectively, if they have been considered at all. In secondary schools, the approach continues to be learning area specific, with many of the principles having little impact across the curriculum.” ERO report 2012

In terms of the imperatives we are facing of preparing our young people for a future that is uncertain, and one that is increasingly globalised, we, as educators have a huge responsibility for ensuring our programmes are designed to prepare students for their future, not our past. Not as easy as it sounds – an obstacle being a lack of awareness and information about what the nature and impact of globalisation is or may  be.

Online universities have just published a post titled 14 Best Books About Global Education which profiles fourteen titles that are worth adding to your reading list. I'm familiar with only four of them, so looks like I'll have some more to explore! Would love to hear from others who have read any of these and who can recommend them.



Future work skills

My colleague at CORE, Jedd Bartlett sent me a link this morning to the Future Work Skills 2020 report from the University of Phoenix – very timely as I'm preparing for a talk in a few days where I will be speaking about a future focused approach to preparing our learners in schools.

The report highlights six big drivers believed to be reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future:

  1. Extreme longevity: Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning
  2. Rise of smart machines and systems: Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks
  3. Computational world: Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system
  4. New media ecology: New communication tools require new media literacies beyond text.
  5. Superstructed organizations: Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation.
  6. Globally connected world: Increased global intercon- nectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations.

There are huge implications here for schools – at two levels:

(a) in terms of defining our educative purpose – what we are teaching, why, how etc., and

(b) in terms of the very nature of schools as insititutions and the work practices that define them.

The report identifies ten skills that the researchers believe will be vital for success in the workforce:

  • Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Cross -cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

Difficult to imagine how such competencies can be addressed in our current school system without a significant re-think in terms of our curriculum, our pedagogical practice, our operational systems and structures.

The question remains – "are we preparing our students for their future… or our past?"

Educating for global citizenship

One of CORE's ten trends is Citizenship, addressing three key themes, global citizenship, digital citizenship and cybercitizenship. Today I came across an excellent resource for teachers interested in educating for Global Citizenship. Produced by Oxfam, the downloadable PDF titled Education for Global Citizenship: A Guide for Schools begins with the challenge:

In a fast-changing and interdependent world, education can, and should, help young people to meet the challenges they will confront now and in the future. Oxfam believes that Education for Global Citizenship is essential in helping young people rise to those challenges.

The resource provides an excellent rationale for incorporating Global Citizenship as a focus in our school curriculum together with frameworks, case studies, activities and practical classroom ideas that can be used to help teachers develop their ideas. I particularly liked the 'key elements' illustrated below (click to enlarge):

This framework makes it rather straightforward to incorporate programmes that educate for global citizenship into our classroom programmes within the guidelines of our existing Curriculum Framework – with the three elements aligning nicely with the three dimensions of the NZC:

NZC Oxfam
Learning areas Knowledge and  understanding
Key competencies Skills
Values Values and attitude

Now this is only an approximation of thought – but does begin to illustrate that Global Citizenship, empowering young people to act for a more just, secure and sustainable world, need not be considered just an 'add-on' or 'extra' to be addressed when the 'real' stuff of the curriculum has been dealt to.

We owe it to our young people to ensure they are adequately prepared to take a responsible role in the increasingly globalised world that they will participate in as they move through school and on into the workforce.

Sustainability Film Challenge

With an increasing emphasis on the use of film and media in schools it’s always useful when there’s an opportunity to put those talents to good use as part of a challenge or competition. The NZ National Commission for UNESCO is a project partner in the Outlook for Someday sustainability film challenge for young people aged up to 24 years, making it idea for consideration at the senior secondary or tertiary level.

The challenge is to make a short sustainability related film, in any genre, filmed with any camera and at any length up to a maximum of 5 minutes. Entries can be from individuals, teams, schools, groups of friends etc., so the door is open to all sorts of collaborations.

Full details can be found on the Outlook for Someday website – entries close on 17 September.