Education in the Information Age: Scenarios, Equity and Equality


Download PDF | By Jay Ogilvy | Published in Think Scenarios, Rethink Education, 2006


Jay Ogilvy gives three main reasons for using scenarios: 1) to provoke strategic conversation; 2) to stimulate new, visionary thinking, and 3); to get unstuck in reflecting on the profound and system-wide changes that are necessary for the education sector.


Jay Ogilvy urges the use of scenarios to support system-wide reform and promote educational equity. He refers to broader socio-historical and sectoral developments to explain current educational inequity and why attempts at educational reforms usually fail, ending up with "business as usual."


He says the education sector inherited the characteristics of the agricultural and industrial eras: every aspect of learning is standardized, as in factories, because "educationalists wanted to model schools after factories." Attempts to change inevitably fail because every particle of the system is closely interconnected, eliminating room for adjustments outside the mold. This one-size fits-all approach leaves too many students behind, aggravating educational inequity and social and economic gaps in OECD societies and beyond.

Real change, he says, requires system-wide reform, reconstructing entire systems to fit the context of the current information age, where access to knowledge is fundamental. He draws parallels between the challenges facing school decision-making and developments in other sectors, for example the shift from mass-production agriculture, where huge farm fields are treated as single units, to "precision farming," where each part of a field is treated according to its needs. In the same way, education needs to move from the industrial mode, where popularization of schooling was the challenge, to a mode that caters precisely to individual learning needs.


This shift is urgent today because the benefits of the information revolution and the knowledge economy go mainly to those who know how to use the information. At the same time, information technology opens up tremendous possibilities to adapt learning settings and styles for individul learning needs and types of intelligence, which is one of the keys to equitable education.


Jay Ogilvy also addresses the role of market forces in retooling education for the information era, and the role for governments to regulate and ensure an equitable spread of resources. He calls for administrations to unlock current systems that are "frozen into immobility by miles of print" regulating current practices, to give room for "differences that make a difference."


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