A garden of innovations that are blooming

HundrED 2020 Innovation Summit is an annual conference celebrated in Finland. Every year, HundrED selects 100 of the most inspiring education innovators from around the world.

The HundrED Innovation Summit brings together these innovators with educators, policymakers, funders, and education enthusiasts. This year the summit was organized as a virtual conference. I had the privilege to participate as a panelist. Here the transcription of my intervention:

In the times of COVID we have learned that we are facing a twin crisis (school closure and economic recession): 

On the one side before the pandemic, we already had what the World Bank calls the Learning Poverty: 50% of 10 years old kids from low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple text. In addition, now we encounter the learning loss that this pandemic is bringing, particularly threatening the most vulnerable.

If appropriate support is not provided, this health crisis can have long-term implications in our society, expanding the existing inequalities and expanding as well the divide between urban and rural, those with access and those without, those kids who receive support at home and those who don’t….  (but it doesn’t need to be that way...). 

The pandemic has made more and more evident the importance to reduce the existing digital divide. It is quite clear that the digital divide hits countries in different ways, in some cases the main gap is on access to electricity, connectivity, and devices.

While in other cases, the digital divide affects access to high-quality content, appropriate teacher training, or effective pedagogies for teaching remotely,...

Today is time to (re)think how technologies can support learning, therefore it will be critical to have a broader understanding of the digital ecosystem (which also includes low tech solutions). 

Technology alone won’t make any difference if schools don’t have access to digital infrastructure (connection, electricity, devices, contents), human infrastructure (training, support), and logistics (secure funding, monitoring, technical assistance). 

We have learned how important are the schools as a social institution, as a critical space where students not only have access to educational resources but also, where they develop social skills and fundamental values for living in society. We have learned today that learning is not a transactional practice but a relational one. Not limited to only delivering contents but also when there is space for connecting, feedback, guidance, and support (having fun).

At the same time, we have seen that learning can happen anytime and anywhere when basic access to educational resources and the required support either by teachers or parents is provided. 

There is a necessity to invest more wisely and better, designing strategies for implementing recovery plans, as well as remedial education especially for those who may be left behind. 

However, if we really want to make a difference, it probably won’t be because we simply managed to get back to business as usual, but how we take advantage of this opportunity to rethink the schools not as a place but as an experience that goes beyond the classroom. 

This also is an unprecedented opportunity to rethink education systems, reimagine the learning organizations, empower the role of teachers, and perhaps reimagine what it means to learn. 

Despite all the challenges previously mentioned, it is also true that we have seen a wealth of experiences that are becoming a garden of innovations that are blooming in education. Today more than ever educational systems are all called to become learning organizations....

Thank you @hundredorg for having me!

Bonus: New Report Spotlights 16 Innovations that are Remaking Learning Across America.

Posted on Nov 09, 2020

Cristóbal Cobo