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The Digital Education Revolution

12:07 AM February 14, 2015

It’s a time of great uncertainty. Every step from here on in must be carefully considered. Every response must be chosen judiciously and worded precisely. Mistakes and errors of omission will be paid for dearly.

This is probably what thousands of graduating high school students, as well as their parents, are thinking as they prepare for two annual high-stakes events: “Choosing the Right School,” followed closely by “The Entrance Exam.”

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For most Filipino families, putting at least one child through college is not just an aspiration: It is the veritable key to a better life for the entire household. The 10-year basic education system prevailing before the passage of the K-to-12 Law made going to college practically mandatory. In 2016, the new senior high school (SHS) curriculum (i.e., Grades XI and XII) will expand the young learner’s career choices through four possible basic education exits. Through specialization tracks, SHS students can prepare themselves for 1) middle skills development, 2) entrepreneurship, 3) outright employment, and 4) higher education.

Middle skills development entails learning a nationally certified trade from a technical-vocational institute (TVI). Aside from the traditional courses like TIG, MIG and SMAW welding or food & beverage, the choices now include information technology & business process management

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(IT BPM) skills like programming, maintaining IT hardware and networks, contact center skills, medical transcription and animation.

The entrepreneurship and outright employment options were previously unavailable because before K-to-12, high school graduates were minors, legally unemployable, and quite unprepared for the rigors of starting and running a business.

Of course, pursuing higher education continues to be a prime choice, and incoming SHS students and their families should have an easier time choosing schools and preparing for the entrance exams because the new SHS curriculum is designed for the “holistically developed Filipino with 21st-century skills.”

What does that mean?

Well, the stated features of the K-to-12 curriculum are that it is 1) learner-centered, inclusive and research-based, 2) standard and competence-based, seamless and decongested, 3) inclusive, culture-responsive and culture-sensitive, integrative and contextualized, relevant and responsive, and 4) flexible, ICT-based, and global.

Items 1, 2 and 3 are timeless concepts that should characterize every education system, whether mediocre or high-performing. Item 4, however, is another matter. Introducing IT’s speed, power and global connectivity in SHS is critical to successfully navigating the world we now live in. Ask any millennial that you know.

In an opinion piece for Time magazine, Charlotte Alter writes: “The world is dominated by tech, and tech is dominated by young people.” Alter, however, goes on to say: “For every young cultural force like Lena Dunham or genius app-creator like Evan Spiegel, there are thousands of other twenty-somethings sitting in their parents’ basements wondering why they haven’t invented an app or started a fashion line. According to a Pew survey, young people today have more debt and less income than their parents and grandparents did at their age, which means we’re the least financially stable generation in recent memory. Yet, thanks to platforms like YouTube and Kickstarter that remove the traditional gatekeepers, there’s a pervasive expectation that young people should be achieving more, faster, younger.”

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IT is changing the way young people learn, as Unesco’s Senior Experts Group pointed out recently. In its report titled “Rethinking Education in a Changing World,” it said: “Education is also undergoing radical transformation … likened to that of the historical transition from the traditional preindustrial educational model to that of mass schooling initiated in the 19th century.

“The multiplication and diversification of sources of information, the continued acceleration in the production and circulation of knowledge, combined with the development of new information and communication technologies and digital media, are spurring the emergence of new forms of learning in the context of the knowledge society.

“These changes in the spaces, times and relations in which learning is taking place favor the idea of a network of learning spaces where nonformal and informal spaces of learning will increasingly need to interact with and complement formal educational institutions.”

Clearly, we are witnessing the Digital Education Revolution.

As the Commission on Higher Education’s partner in implementing the IT BPM Growth Area Project for 17 state universities and colleges, the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) has been heavily engaged in propagating the Service Management Program (SMP) for business administration and IT students to pave their eventual entry into the IT BPM industry. As well, in collaboration with the Asian Institute of Management and the UP Open University in a project funded by the Asian Development Bank, the SMP courses are now being made available online as eSMP to learners anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, the IT BPM industry, a direct beneficiary of the Digital Education Revolution, is changing the way we work. There are a lot of career opportunities in the technology-driven, globally-delivered business process management and IT world. Enrolling in SMP can give you the head start you need.

Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation and education lead for talent development at Ibpap.

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TAGS: Butch Hernandez, column, digital education, information technology, IT
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