Our mission is to help teachers to be magical in the eyes of children | SIVECO Romania

Our mission is to help teachers to be magical in the eyes of children

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What should do school to be more interesting for students today?

How students should prepare for future jobs, Florin Ilia, Vice–president, SIVECO Romania, talks about in an interview for Hotnews.ro

How to adapt the educational system to prepare students for jobs that do not exist yet?

I think school has firstly the duty to teach students how to learn. Children should be encouraged to ask questions, identify information sources and acquire the habit to learn every day, without being pleased only with what they already know. They should be encouraged to research, initiate debates and persuasively support their ideas. All these contribute to developing their communication skills, critical thinking, reasoning and power of judgement. They are moral and intellectual references marks for students while leading them to make decisions based on conscious choices rather than imitation. The teacher should be closer to the students, teach them to be active and help them develop their entrepreneurship mindset.

In addition, teachers must be open to using technology in the classroom and inspire students in using it wisely. By developing these skills, students will be better prepared for any job in any industry, no matter how new and challenging it might be.

What are the jobs of the future that you find interesting? Why?

There are many. Hotnews has already published some excellent articles on this topic; I wouldn’t like to resume the same ideas. Personally, I find very interesting those jobs created when different fields intermingle one with another. For instance, mathematicians are likely to work in the field of biology, psychologists might be required to work with intelligent robots while IT developers might contribute to developing personalized medicines for patients and so on.

Several recent studies focus on the idea that (read here), the traditional learning methods are more effective, given that, both children and adults retain information better from books than from tablets, computers etc. What do you think is the future of e-learning in case these findings are true?

Each technology should be used to what "knows" better to do, not just for the sake of showing that we are modern. The best technology is the one which you hardly feel when you are using it.

The printed book is the result of centuries of design and improvement. When we read a good book, we deepen in the author's ideas and we forget that we have in hand a physical object, that we turn its pages. It is very difficult for a tablet to provide a better reading experience.

On the other hand, a book cannot adjust to its readers, to whom to be able to show content according to their interests and abilities. A book may contain only images, not animations or simulations that significantly help on text understanding. A digital lesson may encompass games that catch and maintain the learners’ attention and so on.

We do not intend to give up on books, but to add complementary learning methods.

How do you think things will change in terms of the evolution of education? Could we ever talk about a replacement of classical education by e-learning?

Between teacher and student there is much more than pure information delivery or support to skills development according to the curriculum. The teacher is a model (social, moral, relational). Often there are emotional bonds between teachers and students that last a lifetime and are of great value for them. Experienced teachers can infer student needs better than any software and they can provide support. Technology will not replace these things in future, so we believe that we cannot talk about a replacement.

However, technology can greatly help the teacher.  Thus, the teacher does not have anymore to write the theory on the blackboard. Thus, the computer can work as an assistant providing students with a solid content customized according to their specific capacities and talents, thus helping teacher to analyze students’ performances and preferences. Technology can take over or facilitate the daily teachers’ work and can help them to communicate with students. Paradoxically, technology used accordingly does not depersonalize the classroom but rather humanizes it, because the teacher has more time to interact with students.

What are the skills / abilities that your company is trying to develop for students through its developed e-learning materials, especially in the context of a highly dynamic labor market?

First, regardless of the subject, the ability to create their own knowledge based on experiments and not on memorizing information. Thus, the interactive digital lessons are attractive and interesting even for students who do not have a passion for that discipline. Through their visual, intuitive, interactive elements, the digital interactive lessons help students to understand the concepts in the classroom, which, as any teacher knows, is essential.

We can think of the analogy to an athlete. One who is strong, fast and has good reflexes, will likely have good results in almost any chosen sport. A student with a strong thinking, who speaks clearly and confidently and is active, open and used to learn, will have many more chances to choose from a wide range of attractive jobs.

Technology expansion (the post-PC era, the emergence of wearables  or of some devices such as Oculus or augmented reality) brings many benefits in education. At the same time, the developers of e-learning content meet the challenge of making the difference between transient and really useful technologies. How can they overcome this challenge?

There is no universal recipe; instead we use our experience and intuition. We make many attempts, we take on many roads and we see through experience whether they wide or narrow.

For us, technology is useful if we can use it in a convincingly teaching scenario – if it adds real value for learning and is not just a gadget. I learned from Larry Page the "toothbrush test". The brush is an object that millions of people use twice a day, so it is extremely useful, indispensable. When we have an idea about a product, we first ask ourselves - how many people need this product and how often would they need it? If the product is not useful for enough beneficiaries and on an enough period of time, then we consider that the idea is not worth being developed, no matter how revolutionary and exciting might it be.

How do you appreciate the introduction of technology in the learning process in Romania? Beyond that, how easily Romania is adapting to innovations in technology?

Between 2001 and 2009 was implemented the Educational IT System ("SEI") which brought computer networking and educational software in the schools and high schools across the country. After Romania joined the EU, the European funds have financed many useful projects which enabled the supply of technology and especially of training programs for supporting teachers in its use in the classroom. Currently, we are talking about introducing digital manuals. All these, in addition to other many initiatives, transform Romania in a very good foundation for technological innovation.

Romanians easily adapt to new technology, as recent statistics have shown by comparing them to the European countries on the use of computer and internet. We have computer science specialists that can work also on educational products. SIVECO Romania also exports such products to 27 countries.

For Romania, the new technologies are a great opportunity. A smart countryside child with a computer connected to the internet and with guidance from a teacher, can make the leap from subsistence agricultural economy directly to the information society, to an interesting and well paid job. 

Students seem to be in the center of the discussions about e-learning. What can you say about teachers? What are their reactions regarding the use of technology in teaching process?

For an interactive lesson to be useful to a student, the teacher is the first one to be convinced about it.  If the lesson is too hard to use or not compliant with the pedagogical goals or it is not clear how it can be integrated into the teaching plan, then it simply will not reach children.

13 years ago, when SIVECO first came on the market with eLearning products, few were teachers who knew how to use the computer in general, not to mention our products. There were only a few enthusiasts who sensed the value of this tool and were creating their own educational materials.

Some of those enthusiasts are now part of SIVECO team, and generally speaking, we have overcome the digital literacy. But this is only the beginning. If a teacher has an e-mail account and knows how to search on Google, this does not imply that he already has all the required skills to work with the computer in the classroom and to reach the teaching goals. The teachers need to use good lessons and an efficient and easy to use software to support the teaching process as well as a methodology to integrate them into everyday work with students.

Craig Barrett, former chairman of Intel Corporation, said "computers are not magic, teachers are". Our mission is to help teachers to be magical in the eyes of children. 

Source: Hotnews.ro