Today’s education: global commodity and catalyst for cultural diversity

The great shift online during Covid-19 culminated in an ‘international learning village’ which offers rich potential for the further development of educational models, says Berlin School of Business and Innovation’s Kyriakos Kouveliotis

Covid-19 has helped to show the world how important education and research truly are.

Each year, in May, the UN’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development raises awareness of diversity issues around the globe and promotes an understanding of different cultures.

Even though cultural events and initiatives have been put on hold for months, the way countries had to co-operate in tackling the menace of the pandemic, co-ordinate their emergency and contingency plans and evaluate the effectiveness of their actions has showcased the biggest experiment of global solidarity and alliance in the history of humankind. 

It is apparent that the domain of education was greatly affected. However, not only did it respond effectively, but it also came out stronger. It embraced cultural diversity in the most productive way and at a time when it was most needed. In a matter of days, global educators had to switch from traditional teaching to online. They had to improvise, innovate and become global. What was expected to happen in years or decades took place instantly. The world was transformed into a global education hub, an ‘international learning village’. This change was cataclysmic.

The end of constraints?

It is expected that the future of education, not in some years but soon, will eliminate the classroom, as well as the borders between countries and all the stereotypes for acquiring knowledge. Technology can turn our entire lives into learning experiences.

Some scholars have argued that 100 years ago, higher education seemed on the verge of a technological revolution. The spread of a powerful new communication network—the modern postal system—made it possible for institutions to distribute their lessons beyond the grounds of their campuses. Anyone with a mailbox could enrol in a class. Classes now are global, and the student community is composed of different nationalities and backgrounds. Education today has literally abolished international borders and rediscovered itself as a global commodity. This commodity is accessible to all, round the clock, regardless of geographical or other constraints.

This rediscovery is based on education’s use of all the latest innovative developments of technology and modern methodologies, such as open learning, social media, mobile learning, blended learning and augmented reality. As a global commodity, modern education commodity brings a new stream of positive thinking regarding cultural diversity and multiculturalism. Today, educators should be able to:

  • Recognise and achieve goals and ambitions, especially in response to global challenges
  • Enhance their knowledge with a global perspective
  • Recognise that they belong to an international community and use this understanding effectively to understand multiculturalism
  • Practice their skills and creativity beyond their regional environments

In this framework, what we need in modern education is a didactic model that achieves the following changes in learning dynamics:

  • From teacher-centred to student-centred learning
  • From the transmission of knowledge to the building of knowledge
  • From passive and competitive learning to active and collaborative learning

In this way, the individual international student becomes the centre of the educational process.

Incentives for developing multicultural initiatives

The legacy of what global education has already achieved during the pandemic created a cross-cultural revolution. The new innovative and modern didactic methodologies that were adopted have led to greater knowledge of the world around us and assisted us to cope better with it.

Salman Khan, Founder of online education platform, Khan Academy, once said: ‘This is the information revolution. It’s crazy that every other field is getting revolutionised except education.’

As education continues to shift from national to international, countries have strong incentives to build the skills of their populations through higher multicultural training initiatives. 

At the same time, the explosive growth of online education raises an important question – will traditional didactic methods continue to attract students at the same pace as in the past, now that the world has seen the creation of a new international and multicultural audience? I think we all know the answer already.

Professor Kyriakos Kouveliotis is Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Berlin School of Business and Innovation (BSBI).

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