School year to start: from knowledge sharing to knowledge building – experts about the future of education

What have we learned from lockdown education in the past 18 months? What questions should you ask to capture students’ attention? What learnings to take with us from digital education to the future? These were some of the issues discussed by experts participating in the roundtable discussion of Telenor’s HiperSuli program on the brink of the new school year.

“The pandemic didn’t strengthen or promote digital education, but highlighted existing issues,” said a participant of the school year-opening roundtable discussion of Telenor’s digital education program HiperSuli. The period behind us invokes bitter memories in most people due to the hardships of digital education, but it also had some benefits.

“One of the most important benefits was that teachers have acquired the skill of learning from each other”, said Ádám Horváth, expert of the Digital Welfare (Digitális Jólét) Program and head of Makerspace creative community workshop. “The entire education system was kicked into startup mode. They had to solve problems never faced before. The transition to digital education created a situation very similar to real life. This is what children need to be prepared for. They have to understand that nothing is available in advance, and they need to join forces to solve the problem or sometimes explore the problem first.”

The importance of collaboration and solution-focused approach was emphasised also by József Balatoni aka “Jocó bácsi”, teacher of history. After the initial difficult period, he and his students jointly explored the opportunities offered by education applications. He and his fellow teachers also helped each other a lot. These are forward looking activities that can be built upon in the future.

Textbooks and testing in the 21st century

An important lesson learnt in the recent period was that children’s attention is increasingly difficult to capture with questions that have clear and closed answers in textbooks. According to Tibor Prievara, digital education expert, author of Tanárblog, students should be given tasks that are related to their lives and they can identify with. “If you realize the importance of this approach, you can start moving from knowledge transfer to knowledge building. In 2021, everybody should be aware that the amount of knowledge possessed by a student at a given point in time is much less important than the amount of new knowledge they are able to absorb,” said Tibor Prievara.

Some education researchers even say that textbooks should no longer be used to determine the daily teaching process. “In a textbook, everything is described in a linear way. Children are not forced to find a solution themselves in any way”, added Ádám Horváth.

As for the best method of testing students’ knowledge in the current education system, participants had different views. József Balatoni even questioned the necessity of testing. He believes that for testing to be ideal, every student should be evaluated based on their abilities and level of knowledge. He added, however, that such an evaluation is very time consuming and the extra time should be accounted for in teachers’ working time.

Tibor Prievara considers evaluation and testing essential. He stressed, however, that it is the added value rather than the absolute value of knowledge that should be considered. “When we had to climb a rope at school, some students were just hanging on the rope, while others were climbing up and down fast. A week later, we were given the same task again with the first group getting mark 1 and the second getting mark 5. Nobody checked on us to see how the underperformers could be improved, what muscle groups should be trained, what technique to apply.” He believes that if a student can improve a bit, it should be rewarded with a better mark. This is why added value rather than absolute value should be evaluated.

Ádám Horváth would welcome a complex measurement and evaluation system designed by each school based on their own preferences. This system would include goals that clearly identify the knowledge and skills students should possess when graduating from the school.

School of the future

The next 5 to 10 years may bring even greater changes in the communication of children with each other at school. That will require much more thematic weeks and project activities where children studying in different fields can work together and find solutions in teams. “Rather than working to acquire knowledge or get a good mark, they will collaborate to create a city model or solve a problem they encountered at school”, said Ádám Horváth.

Tibor Prievara doesn’t expect any major change in such a short run. He considers teaching to be one of the most conservative professions. Nevertheless, the recent past has sawn the seeds in Hungary’s teaching community. Those who rejected the idea of using digital tools before were forced to learn to use new technologies and techniques and integrate them in their teaching methods. “Change is inevitable. But it will happen in a bottom-up rather than in a top-down manner. That is, teachers themselves need to take the initiative to implement change,” he added.

To watch a video about the HiperSuli Teachers’ Day please click here:
To watch the entire roundtable discussion, please click here: