Education Systems in the Digital Age: The Need for Alignment

Butler, Deirdre; Leahy, Margaret; Twining, Peter; Akoh, Ben; Chtouki, Yousra; Farshadnia, Sara; Moore, Kanda; Nikolov, Roumen; Pascual, Carlos; Sherman, Barbara and Valtonen, Teemu (2018). Education Systems in the Digital Age: The Need for Alignment. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 23(3) pp. 473–494.



The focus of Thematic Working Group 1 at EDUsummIT 2017 centred on the need for alignment in education systems and was driven by two key questions relating to (a) if and how all the parts of an education system work together to support the type of learning envisioned in the twenty-first century, and (b) if there is alignment, what is the purpose/vision of that education system and does it meet the needs of its learners. Arising from the discussions held, the group advocated the use of a tool such as the UNESCO framework (ICT competency standards for teachers: competency standards modules, UNESCO, Paris, 2008a; ICT competency standards for teachers: policy framework, UNESCO, Paris, 2011) as a way to conceptualize a systemic approach to reform and to enable policy makers and stakeholders in a system to think about ways in which they can align changes with the goals of any proposed reform. Taking the Irish Education system as an example, this paper illustrates how the UNESCO framework has enabled policy makers in Ireland to adopt a systemic approach to policy formulation which aligns educational strategies across a range of elements “to leverage strengths, coordinate investments, consolidate gains, and advance national development goals and visions” (Kozma in Hum Technol Interdiscip J Hum ICT Environ 1(2):117–156, 2005). To counter the potential danger of a top-down imposition of the UNESCO framework, the group also proposed the Educational Vision and Mission Framework (EVMF) as a tool to support system wide (both top-down and bottom-up) reflection on the purposes of schooling in a rapidly changing world. The group concluded that what is defined as the purpose of education should inform alignment and suggest that application of the UNESCO framework and EVMF could enable the necessary alignment to support the educational, social, and economic transformation necessary for the complex connected global world of today and tomorrow.

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