Adobe-led forum seeks to alter the direction of education
April 21, 2014 00:00 By Premyuda Boonroj
Basic digital media skills seen as important in modern world
Most educators in Southeast Asia strongly agree that digital media skills are necessary in the 21st century job market, as that such skills would boost young graduates’ chance for employment, a recent study led by Adobe showed.
The “Education, Creativity and Employability” survey was conducted from March 7 to 18 on 1,531 educators in the K-12 and higher education segment in the Asia-Pacific region. Of the respondents, 121 are based in Southeast Asia.
Key findings, announced at the ninth Adobe Education Leadership Forum, held from March 31 to April 2 in Kuala Lumpur, show:
_ Most educators or 95 per cent agree that basic digital media skills are essential for a 21st-century workforce (with 58 per cent of the respondents in Asia-Pacific and 62 per cent in Southeast Asia saying they “strongly agree” with the idea).
_ A correlation between employability and creativity emerged, as 92 per cent agreed that youngsters with digital media skills would have an edge in the job market (with 47 per cent in Asia-Pacific and 52 per cent in Southeast Asia saying they “strongly agreed”).
_ 87 per cent of the respondents said there was a gap in the current education system as it does not place enough emphasis on creative expression (with 37 per cent in Asia-Pacific and 28 per cent in Southeast Asia “strongly agreeing”). This finding implies that not all students are gaining the traits and skills required for the modern job market.
_ Most educators (97 per cent) in the Asia-Pacific region agreed that creative expression was a must for all students regardless of their stream of study, and the same percentage said the use of creative tools enhanced students’ conceptual understanding.
Peter McAlpine, Adobe Asia-Pacific’s senior director for Education and Channel, said: “The education system in Southeast Asia has come a long way. Over the years, we have seen educational institutes taking steps towards driving innovation and creativity in the classroom, enhancing the learning journey. The survey findings this year indicate a growing need for digital tools in the classroom to not only empower students, but also ready them for the 21st century workforce.”
He pointed out that every child was entitled to knowledge in digital expression, adding that educators needed to enable a shift and get teachers to embrace technology in the classroom so students are not just equipped as digital content consumers but also creators.
As for the link between creativity and employability, Richard Olsen, an education consultant from Australia said: “Being a creative person changes everything: it enables us to tackle more complex problems, and allows us to boldly approach problems outside of the scope of our experience. This is just as well because our global workforce is increasingly moving to smart jobs, which require creativity at their core. My hope is that schools will continue to place a higher priority on nurturing creativity so their students may realise their full potential.”
Trevor Bailey, senior director for Worldwide Education and Government at Adobe USA, said companies had moved from focusing on efficiency to emphasising creativity as it led to innovation, which drove them forward. “If you bring that into education, it would become muscles, so students could be creative in the business place as well.”
As for the current education system’s lack of prioritising creativity, Bailey said people are afraid of failure when it comes to educating kids, so schools choose to stick with tried and true methods.
Also, Olsen said people still believed that creativity was not as effective as rote learning, while Elisabeth Lenders, principal of Australia’s Kingswood College, pointed out that assessing creativity was difficult compared to rote learning.
Meanwhile, Kamon Jirapong, dean of Sripatum University (SPU)’s School of Digital Media, said he had gained better understanding and updates about useful tools at the forum, while SPU vice president Wirat Lertpaitoonpan said the forum gave educators a chance to connect and collaborate.
Kamon said he liked the idea of “X-Space”, which was presented by Assoc Prof Daniel Tan Tiong Hok from Taylor’s Education Group in Malaysia, because it provided a flexible, collaboration-promoting environment for students.
Wirat said he was planning to map Adobe Certification into SPU courses so SPU graduates are Adobe Certified Experts (ACE) before they enter the job market.
Using the new tool would not be problematic, provided there is a good understanding of the context and proper methods are used in implementation, Wirat said, adding that the change required a transformation of old-generation teachers and adjustments to the overall system, including assessment. SPU is now promoting project- and problem-based learning and is also using the project outcomes to assess students, he added.
Meanwhile, Anuchai Theeraroungchaisri, associate dean of Educational Innovation at Chulalongkorn University (CU), said the forum showed him how Adobe was moving to promote creativity in education, rather than just helping with the creation of graphics.
He confirmed that the old ways of teaching were no longer effective as the world was changing and students’ access to resources had shifted to connected devices. Anuchai, also deputy director of the Office of Higher Education Commission’s Thailand Cyber University Project, said though the forum had provided a lot of useful information, some ideas required a fair amount of time before they can be implemented.
“We are still pretty much in the old paradigm of education and there are also issues of infrastructure preparedness, budget and not-yet-convinced personnel including teachers,” he said. But he was glad some Thai universities had shown interest in these changes, including CU, which has a Learning Innovation Centre to boost lecturers’ ability to use digital tools and gradually implement a policy for them to apply these tools.