Education: new tools
2014-03-26 | Text: Lyudmila Smerkovich | Photo ©: shutterstock.com | 3566

 

A historical anecdote that a posture at the desk when a pupil sits with arms down on the desk was created by Jan Amos Comenius, a creator of the class-lesson system, in order to prevent adult martial students from taking their sabres during lessons. Since then about 400 years have passed, but pupils still put their arms on the desk, and all schools work under the annual programs «Great Didactics» by the Czech educator and digester. And yet, each new era adds something new to methods and an education process to ensure that education gets with the civilization development. Today we ask: what are the current requirements to the education, and how it responds to challenge of our time?

 

Changes in the world constantly increase - new fields of knowledge appear, new technologies displace old ones, a new generation technology got used just within a couple of years. In this regard, further education, retraining and professional development are required for many people. All of us met these situations, including when a young person teach adults, the most common example – learning computer and Internet technology by older generation under their children’s guidance .

At the end of the last century a concept of continuous learning appeared - a person is assumed to train throughout the life, not only to professional skills but in various aspects of life. One of the famous American coachers of online training William Draves declared in his book «Online Education»: an American at the 30s of the last century could not think that in few decades people would spend several hours a day driving a car. So it is hard to imagine that in a few years we will have to learn for several hours every day». We have to recognize that this prediction comes true.
Another important aspect of the modern education - in practicality required for learning in most of today's activities, including those newly created without theories and techniques. It’s not enough to make a student learn something new, he has to realize what to expect in future work and to obtain some experience before starting work. In this regard, recently an interactive education for students has been developed in our country allowing a student to take part in the education, not to passively accept what teachers teach.

Active participation in education is required not only for potential employers, but also for students. A modern young man’s attitude to knowledge is practical enough: if knowledge can be applied right here right now - this is important and necessary knowledge. If you do not need this knowledge in a while - the knowledge seems not necessary. An interactive approach allows to provide a student with certain practice where to realize right here all received knowledge in the classroom.

The interactive method currently includes various approaches - from business games to Internet use. The Moscow State University conducted annually the Interuniversity Scientific Conference on interactive education. Interdisciplinary modules are described in minutes of these conferences as well as model games in learning of micropolicy and law and software for interactive learning of foreign languages. Interactive approach to learning in business, economics, management are discussed at these conferences, computer simulations, case studies and games involving required processes and situations are commonly used in the education.

New education tools require for new criteria of education effectiveness. Standards, such as knowledge and skills, stated in the national uniform examination do not always show the correct result of the educational process, especially non-traditional. One of the indicators of modern education success is the assessment of competence - abilities to solve certain professional situations. The term competence confuses to describe an exact meaning as any new unstable term, this term is used for classic skills and specific qualifications required for employees at a corporation according to internal standards.

Now, however, the competency assessment system for higher education is being developed, a competence approach is formed into an independent area of education, the question of the competence development both in students and retrained professionals is discussed. The characteristic of competencies is their appearance not in review of the material studied by the student but in actions under hard and complicated conditions, in made decisions. Therefore, to measure the competence, models of complex situations are required allowing independent activity at the own risk - otherwise actual production process seems to be under risk if a student do not manage with the situation. This model can be created in a game or simulator – in a safe situation when a player can act at his discretion, without a risk to destroy something in the production and without social consequences of mistakes.

Considering the modern education methods, we always see that successful learning actions often seem as projects. They always have a target order demanding for a specific result. According to the goals, special development based on overcoming problems with some creative solution in tasks and implementation phases is worked over. The current educational work assumes to be a kind of engineering - it is required to find a unique design solution for each activity to be learnt, for every competence.

Not every educational institution can afford educational projects because they, like any other projects, require for investment of resources, including financial for the further development. But the educational design becomes more popular – the education has to keep up with the activity, otherwise consequences may be harmful for both.

 

We talked about competence with the expert of the Kazan model and practical center Naila Gataullina. Naila was engaged in the competence evaluation unit in large educational project «Moon Races» with participation of several hundred students from Kazan universities.

What is competence, how it differs from skills or knowledge, skills, abilities, and what culture area it is related to, is now difficult to say. Scientists, educators, businessmen and politicians have not agreed about its exact definition, everyone understands and uses the word in own way. That is why at the beginning of the project we held an expert session to gather different specialists and to build a concept of competence required for our activity - development of innovative competencies by game methods. Our colleagues and experts Sergey Pereslegin, a writer, futurist and forecaster, and Mikhail Kozharinov, a teacher, businessman and consultant helped us very much. Both began working on the development of competencies long before it was integrated in the compulsory education program at universities. The easiest way to explain what is competence is an example. One of the heroes of the famous movie «Pulp Fiction» says: «I’m Winston Wolfe. I solve problems. «And the further events clearly showed he had told true he was really a person competent in dealing with such problems of two unlucky mobsters. And it’s true, this is competence indeed.

I would refer to the known experts. Richard Boyatzis, one of the founders of the concept of competence, wrote in his book that competence is «the main characteristic of an individual, basing effective or excellent performance».

Book by Lominger «FYI For Your Improvement» listed 67 skills; here are two of the stipulated competencies:
1. Working under uncertain situation. In most cases, a person never has all information. The decisions should be made quickly basing on available facts.

2. Fast learnability. It can be hard to admit that the knowledge obtained so hard in past is now irrelevant or useless. Unfortunately, it can be often met and retraining is required.

These and many other competencies are evident very well in games, they can be seen in the players’ actions - how quickly they learn in the game world and on the game site, how they consider the challenges and how they overcome them. In «Moon races» we used a special software platform where teachers entered demonstrated competences of students. Before the game, each participant passed testing, allowing to determine the scope of his motivation for development. This is the first part of the personal competence portrait. Then, the portrait changes during the project were displayed on the site, and an accuracy of the participants’ self-esteem was mentioned.

When we worked with the students, they often asked - is it possible to learn competences? Fortunately, all our experts agreed - competence can be obtained, it’s not innate abilities, so they should be developed.

We talked about an interactive approach to business education with Dmitry Zabirov, senior consultant at the Kazan model and practical center, worked as a teacher-moderator at several training modules at LNA «Skolkovo».

Interactive methods of modern business education are definitely in demand. There are three reasons. First, more customers faced situations not described in the training courses. But they should be solved right now, not in a while waiting for their description in books. To find ways out of the situation, and most important to teach your staff, a situation should be simulated and forms and methods of solution for complicated business problems should be worked out in the training model. So, we conducted game educational projects at the Moscow Management School «Skolkovo» for «Rosatom» simulating current situations at the company - entrance to the international technology market, required intra-industry cooperation, connection of diverse processes within the corporation.

The second reason of increased application of interactive methods is simple - game methods are more technological then classic education. Half a day of the business game allows to learn the content of several «lecture-seminar» cycles and a game form does not substitute for classic education and self-education. On the contrary, having lived and experienced described situations in the interactive form, whatever of a game or simulation, participants will read the literature in different way as well as will learn the educational material.

The third reason - practicality and diversity of application. Game results can be used as education material, the game can be used in the staff evaluation testing and measuring their competencies, games are often used as a prediction method for the future and working out of situations not occurred yet. We modeled with experts of the Arkhangelsk Federal University developing their projects for the university development at the LNA «Skolkovo» base the implementation of their projects, prospects and pitfalls to be faced by the project teams. Another example - the project «Metagame» developed by the Moscow Educational Agency «Soling» by order of the Russian Venture Company for students of National Nuclear Research University and Moscow State Institute for International Relations, game methods have been used to model the political and technological development of Russia in the next 20-30 years.

The prospect of the interactive method development - games for engineering and technique and their integration with management games and simulators. A lot of game programs for development of management competences are implemented. The market is required for interactive programs to prepare technical experts with technical specialty as well as with organizational and managerial competencies. Kazan model and practice center began to work out this subject in 2011 in the project «Moon Race» - an educational game for students of Kazan technical universities, dedicated to development and implementation of innovative projects in the industry and energy sectors. Several interesting foreign and domestic games on this subject appeared in the past two years, such as «Innovation» by IELLO or domestic «Startup». Approach to learning via these games seems a very promising, but they are certainly should be developed for specific tasks.

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