Microsoft’s event “Transforming education to regain economic prosperity”, will seek to promote and explore new assessment methods around collaborative problem solving. The discussion with key actors involved in this project, will provide guidelines to policy makers on how to help education communities prepare for PISA 2015.
Amongst the confirmed speakers are: Arto K. Ahonen, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä; Jim Wynn, Chief Education Officer at Promethean; Wayne Houlden, Managing Director Janison Software; Regina Murray, Director Western Europe Education, Microsoft; Greg Butler, Director of Education Strategy, Microsoft.
When: Tuesday 4th December 2012
Where: Microsoft Executive Briefing Center, Avenue des Nerviens 85, 1040 Brussels.
What: Policy Discussion with education experts followed by a networking lunch.
Who: EU and national policy makers, industry, IT education professionals, representatives from international education organizations.
Why such an event?
Education plays a core role in our digital age transformation. So what are the skills that the young generation needs in this rapidly changing world?
Today’s school curricula must go further than traditional skills such as reading, writing and applying math. It should be shaped to include skills such as collaboration and digital literacy that will prepare students for 21st century employment and help them become successful in the digital age and beyond. On the other hand, employers today are often challenged with entry-level workers who lack the practical skills to create, build and help sustain an information-rich business.
Countries strive to transform their educational systems to prepare all young people with the knowledge and skills needed to be equipped in our rapidly changing societies. Governments are responsible for teachers’ education and will ultimately make the curriculum and assessment decisions to help their countries succeed. Furthermore evaluation and assessment undertakings have become essential to both improvement and accountability in school systems. We see this reflected in national education agendas. Information obtained through evaluation and assessment procedures is critical to understanding whether school systems are delivering good performance and to providing feedback to help improvement.
The development of education is determined by the demands of 21st century, which is a key factor in influencing assessments. This is instrumental in improving school practices and enhancing student performance and outcomes.
Now despite a high degree of interest we see in new forms of teaching and learning, the use of innovative assessment approaches remains quite limited. Both national assessments and classroom-based assessments in many countries have remained focused primarily on reproducing knowledge and applying basic skills. Less attention is given to measuring complex competencies. Hence, while the curriculum might be competency-based, the assessment system may not adequately capture many of the key objectives of the curriculum.
So what is to be done?
In order to overcome this trend, several public and private actors are increasingly investing in research and development regarding the teaching and assessment of key competencies. It is essential to gather that data through new forms of assessment that can bring a fundamental change in how we approach education worldwide. One example is the “Assessment and Teaching of 21st-Century Skills” (ATC21S) project led from the University of Melbourne, which is sponsored by private companies (Cisco, Intel and Microsoft) and governed by an executive board comprising ministries of education, academics and industry leaders from a range of countries. This project has created new assessment methods along with policy and learning environment guidance for adopting the teaching of these high-priority skills and inspired OECD to include Collaborative Problem Solving in the upcoming PISA 2015 survey. Furthermore the project also gives concrete examples of how these skills apply to real-world situations.
To quote Michael Timms, ATC21S USA National Project Manager: “Kids are digital natives. They go into the classroom, and they don’t see the same level use of technology in their education as they might in their outside lives and when they get out into the workplace. If education doesn’t start to address that issue, this disconnect will grow. This is the motivation for our focus on 21st-century skills.”