by Jordi Viladrosa i Clua
Miquel Àngel Prats is a teacher and educational psychologist and holds a PhD in Education. He is currently a full professor of Educational Technology and the researcher in charge of the eduTIC line of the consolidated research group PSiTIC (Pedagogy, Society, Innovation and ICT) of the Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sport Sciences Blanquerna at Ramon Llull University. He is also a pedagogical advisor at CETEI (Centro de Tecnologías Ituarte) and a contributor to the Edu21 Project. During his career, he has combined his scholarly work at the university with his work as a communicator in different media. His latest book is the essay ‘Viure en digital. Como educamos para el mundo de hoy’ (Living Digitally: How we Educate for Today’s World) published by Eumo.
We talked to him about the challenges posed by the digital transformation of education and the role of the stakeholders involved in it. He highlights the need for teacher training and communication with families, and hints at a critique of universities, which perhaps should get a little more involved.
One of the concepts that we all repeat the most lately is educational transformation. If we narrow it down a bit and talk about the digital transformation of a school, the first question that comes to mind is where to start. What can you tell us about your experience in this field?
When we talk about digital transformation, the first thing that comes to mind is not tools and technology but people. I think this is important because it is not about filling the organisation, school or institution with technology, but instead is really about putting people at the centre, in this case students.
All of this means that the different stakeholders involved in digital transformation must play a prominent role, including the administrative team, teaching staff, tutors, families and, of course, students.
I remember a very interesting experience when I was director of the Ituarte Technology Centre of the Juan XXIII Foundation, in the same Jesuit school and in the same school: the administrative team took the first step and therefore had a great deal of influence when leading the educational projects. There is a human team that acts as a ‘tractor’, driving and pulling along the rest of the organisation; teachers were mentored and trained in all these matters, and tutors were very important mentoring agents in the educational relationship with the students. And then we realised that families had to be very well informed about everything that was being done, which is one of the shortcomings in education. Finally, there was a great deal of complicity with the students, which in digital transformation processes means precisely that they were not left on the sidelines.
Specifically, at Juan XXIII we experimented with what we called ICT agents. They were pupils who were brilliant in technological matters, perhaps because of their disposition, and could help us to support and mentor their classmates and other students.
When you give a certain prominence to the students to encourage them to play a role within the organisation itself in a given project, suddenly everyone ends up wanting to say: ‘What are you doing? I want to be an ICT agent, too!’ In short, it is a question of creating a global project.
How do we get teachers to expand their digital teaching skills so that students become the main agents of their own digital transformation?
Probably one of the most important changes that I think we will witness in the twenty-first century is ‘live for learning’; that is, earning a degree and this meaning that we end up spending our whole lives doing it is not sustainable. People, and teachers in particular, need constant and increasingly intensive retraining. Therefore, perhaps we will have to invent some kind of sabbatical or semester leave so that we teachers have the chance to take some time off, catch up and then go back to work. The 20-30 hour courses we are used to are insufficient. It seems to me that part of the innovation in the field of teaching will have to be along these lines.