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Higher Education, 21st Century and Professional Development

December 01, 2016
Following a conversation with a colleague and former center fellow about educational changes in the 21st century and some interesting data we share in these issues, I wrote these lines in order to share some conclusions on these interesting subjects.

It is clear that Higher Education is in a period of evolution or maybe transformation. It has reached a point where the World of Education has realized that Higher Education must be at the forefront and, like it or not, it has a great impact on the rest of the education system (primary, secondary, vocational education, etc.). The most significant changes in recent years are related to:
1)      Alternative accreditation which can be described as alternative methods of evaluating learning and recognition of this learning translated in other credentials beyond the degrees we already know. The clearest example is the MOOCs - (Massive Open Online Course).

This type of change is driven by several reasons:
- The students have changed. On the one hand there are more independent and have access to places that previously only professors or the university as a physical place gave them the possibility to access. In today’s world, the computer and the cell phone became keys to access for a number of new options. On the other hand, the student of today has more faces, not only the youngsters to whom our teachers were used. Examples of this may be professionals who want to expand their knowledge and skills to grow professionally.
- They want to lower the costs and provide new knowledge to more people.
2)      Experimentation in new teaching methods and learning spaces. The classic frontal teacher approach is still relevant (for now) but new models of teaching, such as project-based learning, simulations, flipped classroom are knocking the door. At the same time, the physical spaces in which we teach are changing; from MakerSpace, Virtual Rooms or different distributions or furniture - as the photo shows. At the same time, the introduction of ICT in the pedagogy of the university is a turning point in these institutions.

3)      Student-driven and personalized learning. Students control their learning and do not become mere consumers of content, but active creators of content, building knowledge through collaboration and connectivity.
-  In each of these changes, technology has a fundamental role to which we must accept, pay attention and learn.
- This Exponentiate the Democratization of Knowledge and as a consequence of Education. It becomes unlimited and reaches almost any geographical point; the costs are lower; we all have access to quality academic resources.
The development and strengthening of Professional Development units in higher education institutions are fundamental and are the ones, which can give answers to these changes.
The last two years I have been fortunate to see the investment of these institutions in the development of their Educators in the training we have done in Latin America.

In December, a training will be held for Educators of Higher Education Institutions in the Ofri center. 
Damian Filut
Deputy Director