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August 2014 - Challenges for teacher qualification in distance education

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FGV Online Magazine - August 2014

Challenges for teacher qualification in distance education - Considerations on teacher qualification and technology-mediated learning environments.

FGV Online website: http://www.fgv.br/fgvonline

Published in: Education
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August 2014 - Challenges for teacher qualification in distance education

  1. 1. Revista FGV Online Year 4 – Number 1 – July 2014 ISSN 2179-8729
  2. 2. Sumário 5 Editorial 7 Professional certification: alternative for qualification of ODL working professionals 17 Educommunication and 21st century teacher qualification 31 Corporate education as a tool to prepare executives to obtain better results for the organization 35 Beyond the chalk 43 Tutoring FGV Online: the search for excellence in tutors’ profile 51 Unexpected difficulties in first tutoring sessions: a view of mentoring 63 Engaging interactions for eLearning: 25 ways to keep learners awake and intrigued
  3. 3. 5 Editorial Tutor training and qualification is one of the major challenges faced by Distance Education. Technology-mediated practices in virtual learning environments, teaching qualification – whether aimed at mainstream basic education teachers or corporate education tutors – and teacher certification are much debated by educational institutions. That is why this edition presents a series of articles that discuss the various features that permeate Distance Education (DE) tutor training and qualification. The president of the Brazilian Distance Education Association (Abed – acronym in Portuguese), Fredric M. Litto, opens up the discussion with the article entitled Professional certification – alternative for qualification of ODL working professionals, which highlights the importance of creating a certification program for these practitioners. Abed is currently working on certification proposition that assigns the Association the leading role in setting the norms to be complied with by certifying entities regarding DE tutors’ required competences and skills. Professor Dr. Ismar de Oliveira Soares, with the University of São Paulo (USP) builds the case for making technology an integral component of DE tutors’ daily tasks, study and reflection. His article Educommunication and 21st century teacher qualification refers to renowned authors to further the discussion on Educommunication and to support USP’s School of Communication and Arts (ECA/USP)’s proposition of a Practicum Degree in Educommunication. When interviewing professor Maristela Rivera Tavares, manager of academic materials design with FGV Board for Educational Solutions, the director of FGV Management (FGV-SP) Paulo Lemos highlights the importance of corporate education in preparing executives for achieving the best results for the organization they are with. In order to explore mainstream basic teachers’ qualification, professors Raquel Villardi (FGV/Uerj), Márcia Spíndola (Uerj) and Sílvia Helena Mousinho (Uerj) investigate practical issues of primary teacher qualification during the supervised practicum. In their article entitled Beyond the chalk: the challenge of supervised practicum in distance teacher education programs they discuss practices in both distance education and face-to-face undergraduate teacher qualification programs in the light of systematic teacher observation. Focusing on tutor qualification, professors Rebecca Villagrán Reimão Mello Seoane and Nayane Caldeira – the former coordinator and the latter assistant coordinator of FGV Online Tutor Training Program – discuss the role played by tutor competences in achieving distance education excellence. Their article entitled Tutoring FGV Online: the search for excellence intutors’profile discusses MEC’s Higher Distance Education Quality Benchmarks (ReferenciaisdeQualidadeparaaEducação Superior a Distância) upon which FGV designed a tutoring model aimed at excellence of the teaching and learning process and continued tutor development. From a mentoring perspective, Neila Rockenbach Xavier and Débora Maria Lautenschläger Piccoli Guimarães explore the problems encountered by tutors that might hinder students’ learning process. Their article Unexpected difficulties in first tutoring sessions: a view of mentoring advocates improving novice tutors’ selection, qualification and evaluation process.
  4. 4. 6 Last but not least, a contribution to distance education practices using technology is provided by journalist Cristina Massari’s review of B. J. Schone’s e-book Engaging interactions for eLearning: 25 ways to keep learners awake and intrigued. Schone is the editor and founder of the website elearningweekly. FGV Online Newsletter is a channel that fosters open discussion of education-related themes, with a special eye to distance education. We invite you to further explore these themes as a contributor. FGV Online Newsletter is a theme-oriented publication issued twice a year. Our next edition will be about Distance education public policies (check how to submit your article!). Enjoy your reading!
  5. 5. 7http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Professional certification: alternative for qualification of ODL working professionals Fredric M. Litto is professor emeritus of the School of Communication and Arts of the University of São Paulo, president of the Brazilian Association for Distance Learning (ABED) and member of the Board of Trustees of the International Council of Open and Distance Education (ICDE). Abstract The certification of theoretical and practical competency among distance education professionals cannot be left exclusively in the hands of higher education institutions which characteristically create obstacles to the modernization of didactic methodsandresistpedagogicalexperimentation.Thenecessityofhaving,onthenationalsceneofprofessionaldevelopment, non-academic entities composed entirely of distance education professionals, and which periodically hold examinations covering current knowledge and information, is of the greatest importance, guaranteeing to society in general the high qualification of those possessing certification by their professional colleagues, a European dating from the 12th century. The Brazilian Association of Distance Education – Abed – is elaborating a model of certification, beginning with that of the “manager” of distance learning programs, which will bring benefits to professionals and employers. Examples of possible types of tests, an explanation of the process of obtaining approval of the project within Abed, and the decision of Abed to not assume the role of certifier but rather that of “author” of the norm to be used by multiple and varying certifiers within Brazil and abroad, complete this study. [FML] Keywords: distance education; professional development; professional certification; professional proficiency. 1. INTRODUCTION When Austrian author Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) wrote his celebrated book Brazil, Land of the Future in 1941, he certainly had the intention to satisfy the people of his new homeland. Fleeing Nazi persecution and the horrors of global war in Europe, he was the most widely read author in the world at the time and hoped to find the necessary peace in Brazil to carry on with his work. His book does not mention education and it couldn’t since the country’s basic education was elitist and sparse. College education – particularly the study of the humanities – had started only two decades earlier, when the University of Brazil began its operations in Rio de Janeiro, in 1922. While Spain founded universities at remote colonies in the Americas in the late sixteenth century, the throne of Portugal, afraid of “thinking institutions”, for centuries did not provide their colonies with real research centers dedicated to physical and social Sciences, thus confirming the popular joke: “Brazil, land of the future, and so it will remain.”
  6. 6. 8 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista The general delay of formal education in Brazil still continues, keeping obstacles to modernization of teaching methods and resisting experimentation of teaching/learning techniques which are successfully used in other countries with similar geographical, historical and social characteristics. Perhaps the most striking example is the difficulty with which “distance” learning has been received. Correspondence courses successfully began in Brazil in the 1940s, focusing on technical and vocational content, which ended up creating a stigma in the popular imagination, particularly among the country’s higher education teachers (ALVES, 2009). In the UK, higher education ODL began in 1858 when the University of London – created in 1853 to be the “people’s university” (and was distinguished from the universities for the aristocracy) – began to use printed materials and postal service to deliver a wide range of courses to thousands of students in its own territory and the colonies around the world. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were among its celebrated alumni. In North America, the universities started using correspondence courses in the last decades of the nineteenth century, reaching students in rural areas of the countries. In Brazil, the idea of delivering higher education to a non-traditional public did not begin with any innovative educational leadership, but rather with a wise and thoughtful legislation: the Education Bases and Guidelines Law from 1996, whose art. 80 mentioned, practically for the first time in national law, the existence of an inclusive form of higher education – ODL – and established the legal equivalence of diplomas issued by institutions authorized by the Ministry of Education (Education Bases and Guidelines Law). It took another two years before the Ministry started issuing the first permits, although the University of Brasilia begun a battle to create an Open University already in 1979, an attempt repeatedly rejected by the Ministry of Education and the National Congress (AZEVEDO, 2012). Even so, once the authorization for distance learning programs began, the growth was explosive – the number of college students increased over 1,000% in just 10 years (CENSOEAD.BR, 2013). Where did the pertinent professionals – such as educators, experts in audiovisual media and printed materials, business managers, and so on – come from? After all, although Brazil was highly regarded in the 70’s for its achievements in ODL – with the Saci Project, the Telepostos in Maranhão, Telecurso and several other initiatives – almost all of those projects were discontinued during the following decade and specialists were scattered. Improvisation, the celebrated national solution, came into effect! Thousands of professionals without any ODL experience were hired across the country, many of whom tried to repeat the face-to- face learning methods, producing courses that involved “talking heads” for long periods, and simply scanning the same discursive and tedious texts to a new generation of students who are used to interactivity, agility and promptness. Fortunately, an intriguing phenomenon took place repeating a positive past experience. When the area – nowadays called information technology – began in the mid-50s, there were no courses dedicated to the subject leading to academic degrees. Specialists who worked in the then called computer sciences were individuals trained in different fields of knowledge – mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology and linguistics, for example – who brought along a rich tradition of scientific practices, such as methodologies, validations, distributed working groups, detailed documentation, among others – thus building a solid foundation in the new area. The Brazilian experience with ODL was essentially the same – workers from all academic fields building new knowledge through practical experiences. Still, what is missing to
  7. 7. 9http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista consolidate the universe of ODL professionals in Brazil is a certification program, non-academic in nature, that is, not so heavily theoretical, impractical and redundant when it comes to university graduates. What we really need is a program with professional profile, going beyond taught knowledge and skills, involving autonomous operations and proficiency in the use of interactive tools. A program based on the philosophy according to which what the person knows is more important than where or how he has learned. 2. RETROSPECTIVE Professional certification has a long history in European civilization and, to modern eyes, is considered somewhat romantic. Although Brazil does not have a tradition for certifying basic professions, such as electrician, plumber, and activities that in other countries require proper local licensing in order to ensure quality of service, eventually it will be necessary to do so due to the increasing complexity of the world today. The first found evidence of professional certification dates from the 12th century in Europe with the development of entities for this purpose, such as guilds, unions, professional associations, corporations – for artisans, merchants and other professionals. Created by a royal decree or by the Town Hall, they exhibited and engraved their coat of arms in products, such as shields and weapons, among other objects. Their objective was to ensure the quality of products or services. They pursued mutual protection of members, economic regulation and control, monopolies and internships in education (in 1563, Elizabeth I created in England a statute establishing the seven-year period professional internship). Although there is evidence that the Romans created guilds for musicians as early as the seventh century, the first professional group of this category occurred in England around the year 1350. We are aware of the weavers (1155), the goldsmiths (1300 – and their meeting place, the Goldsmith’s Hall, which still exists as a major tourist attraction), cloth merchants and manufacturers of armors, barrels and candles, among others. In 1986, there were 96 professional corporations in London – 38 of them with their own meeting halls. England, home of the Industrial Revolution, has today the National Qualification Framework, which establishes different levels (total of eight) for business complexity, drawing a parallel with the academic levels – bachelor, licentiate, master, doctor and so on – but clearly directed to vocational activities. Below is a shortened and simplified version to establish the concept of level delimitation of occupational complexity, thou recognizing that it is a dynamic “map” of the subject and periodically updated:
  8. 8. 10 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista LEVEL LEVEL INDICATORS EXAMPLE OF QUALIFICATION Entry Initial basic skills There are three levels of entries in a range of topics Level 1 Ability to apply learned subject under tutoring Plaster worker Auto mechanic Level 2 Ability to acquire good knowledge in a professional working field Soccer coach Beauty specialist Level 3 Attends university, works independently, supervises other people Auxiliary teacher Small pets sitter Level 4 Presents high level of information and knowledge. Equivalent to a university degree Sports supervisor Lease manager Infant technician Level 5 Able to devise solutions and answers to complex problems and situations Civil construction supervisor Theatrical producer Level 6 High level of knowledge allowing the use of own ideas and research (lato sensu graduate degree) Equivalent to have a business administration degree Level 7 Senior Professionals and Managers (lato sensu graduate degree) Translator Music initiation Level 8 Experts or prominent practitioners of specific field Received specialized awards Source: OFQUAL. What are the benefits for the candidate to be certified by a committee composed of peers? Professional recognition, competitive advantage for replacement in the market, mobility in the labor market (currently, companies dispute skilled labor) and international recognition (when the professional moves abroad his professional certification goes along). What are the benefits for institutions seeking employees for their distance learning programs? Organize the labor market; adapt to the rapid technological assimilation, [...] meet the needs of quality production, [...] simplify recruitment and selection of employees by providing objective information about candidates, [...] recognition of skills acquired on the job; wider range of opportunities and options. (GUIBERT, 2012)
  9. 9. 11http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista 3. A NATIONAL EXPERIENCE In 2009, in order to identify professionals with appropriate and necessary skills to successfully operate in the area, the Brazilian Association for Distance Education – Abed – launched the ODL Professional Certification, a non-academic although professional qualification. A group of senior members of the Abed, with experience in certification of vocational education – and the aid of Paul Rech, an expert in this field – initiated studies to develop skills and abilities involved in two professional categories: manager and tutor (GT-ABED)1 . Other occupations, such as instructional designer, technical supervisor, expert evaluation and content manager remained for further consideration. The group considered appropriate that certificates issued to those approved be valid for a period of five years. It was also decided that Abed, keeping the tradition of not performing activities which essentially compete with those offered by its members, would not offer preparatory courses for the applicants; instead it would issue a Guidance Manual describing the general aspects of the exams. Such manual would establish parameters to keep a level playing field for all those who formulate the questions, candidates and exam evaluators. After all, there are some controversial issues in ODL, starting with the terminology of the area: there is potential for confusion regarding the use of certain terms, such as open, distance, flexible, distributed, online learning and e-learning. Orientation meetings with ABNT and INMETRO were conducted to ensure the correct project initiation. The Working Group (WG) also sought guidance – and possible partnership – with the largest and most important awarding organization in the world, Edexcel, a UK centennial entity: there was an expectation about following their protocol in the exam conduction process, so that Abed could also be an international awarding body. During the development and reinforcement of the involved competencies and skills, the working group followed the guidelines provided by Rychen and Salganik as well as Kuenn et al, whereby The term competence is used to denominate a complex action system which encompasses cognitive skills, attitudes and other non-cognitive components. Accordingtosuchholisticperspective,theterm‘competence’embracesarangeofmentalprerequisites that shall be mobilized (Rychen and Salganik, 2003). In our work, we follow the approach of the above mentioned authors and make a distinction between the terms ‘competence’ and ‘skill’. More specifically, the term ‘competence’ is reserved for a group of skills, referring to a single fundamental dimension, forming a condition for the performance of complex and varied tasks, both inside and outside the working sphere. In this sense, the ability to heat the oven, the ability to cut the meat, and the ability to name different herbs encloses skills, while the combinatorial knowledge is what makes a competent cook. (KUENN et al) 1 GT-ABED. Abed acknowledges the volunteer and highly qualified collaboration of the following members who represent the productive and academic sectors: Arlette Guibert, Consuelo Fernandez, Gley Fabiano, Ivete Palange, Luciano Gamez, Marta de Campos Maia, Rita Maria Tarcia and Silvia Fichmann.
  10. 10. 12 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista The complete and updated report on Skills for distance education: theoretical frameworks and matrices is available on Abed’s website. Besides the definition of involved competencies and skills, the Abed group intensified the procedures for examining applicants, that is, how the candidate should demonstrate that he has the ability to apply – in updated practice – the theories and experiences involved in the performance of the specific profession. It was established that, after an initial assessment of the candidate’s resume, it would be in the form of rigorous tests consisting of questions – objective and essay, but without formulation solely based on a theory, whether educational or socioeconomic – a typical procedure of the academy, which has a specific and different purpose. For instance, in the discursive part of the examination where competence in managing ODL programs is demonstrated, the Abed study group intended to ask the candidates to prepare simulated planning for the development of a new program of higher education ODL, following a diverse group of scripts. As follows: • define a project – a new ODL program – and choose a target for it; • identify and assess both the resources to which you have access and the needed resources (for example, time and money); • give priority and refine the set target; • balance the required resources in order to meet multiple goals; • learn from past actions and estimate possible future outcomes; • monitor progress, making necessary adjustments as the project develops. (OECD) Or this example of script for the ODL manager test: • develop a marketing plan (for an ODL course) directed to (a) the prospective student, (b) the employers; • prepare the job description (job profile), a newspaper ad and questions for the recruitment interview of ODL tutors. • Attention was also given to the dissemination of the plan: on Abed’s and WebAula’s websites; on “Digital Reports” sent to the electronic mailing list of the Association; at conferences and seminars of Abed in Curitiba, Recife and Santos; and a national news story (Valor Econômico, 2009). 4. RELUCTANCE In Brazil, however, where there is no tradition of professional certification for people working or wiling to work in education, or in other areas of the humanities, our plans found a small but vocal opposition when presented at the Association General Assembly, in Fortaleza (Ceará), on September 29, 2009. Some members questioned the release of this type of program for ODL professionals in the country. It was evident that the proposed program was bothering universities and companies that resist external reviews.
  11. 11. 13http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Among the critical points raised at the General Assembly are the following: • it is the first time I hear about it; there was no prior announcement; • the program is a corporative, biased, fiscal and legalistic gesture; • it seems to propose a new “business model”; • the Working Group includes people who offer OLD management courses, thus constituting a conflict of interest; • in Brazil, there is an anti-certifying culture – especially among teachers (folklore)2 ; • international certification is irrelevant – there are more job opportunities in Brazil. Besides these points, there was strong criticism about the partnership with Edexcel because the British company belongs to the group of companies owned by Pearson, the world’s largest editorial organization dedicated to education (including the provision of educational content and technology services related to ODL). The fear, clearly expressed by the critics, was that Pearson could manipulate the formulation of bidding documents of public and private entities in Brazil so that the accreditation planned by Abed would be a requirement for service providers who intend to meet such calls for proposals. There was an effort to explain that the plan outlined by Abed was not an attempt to: • compete with the institutions members of Abed; • obtain monopoly in the market; • form a cartel (price fixing); • interfere or replace the supervisory activities of the Ministry of Education. But it did not help and the project was removed from the agenda for reconsideration by the Board. Otherwise, prior to the General Assembly, there was a positive reaction from the professional community – 52 persons registered interested in being candidates for the exam and another 13 people were “very interested”, even having to pay a fee of R$ 1,500.00 each to undergo the process in the second half of 2009. During the subsequent Board meeting a few weeks later, it was recognized the potential value of such a program whose continuity and development were approved, leaving for a future date, not yet defined, the question of joining or not an international institution. The continuity of the certification program development was approved by the original working group, with the addition of some other components. In the following year, the Board selected the following theme for the 19th Abed International Congress on ODL (held in Salvador, Bahia): “Good Professionals carry out Good ODL Programs: How are we doing?” It was 2 I can not resist the temptation to mention this urban folk legend: A rich farmer, jealous of his BMW, refused to give the car key to his son or wife, but did not hesitate to give the key of an imported harvester worth more than $ 1 million dollars to a semiliterate and under qualified employee, far short of understanding the functions displayed in the control panel of the sophisticated computerized technology.
  12. 12. 14 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista an instigation aimed at contributing to the improvement of the ODL practice in the country. However, the defeat of 2009 discouraged the members of the Working Group, reducing productivity during the months that followed. In 2014, however, work was resumed and, currently, Abed is formulating a new proposal for certification, submitted by unanimous consent of those attending the Standing Conference of Presidents (SCOP) of the International Council of Open and Distance Learning (ICDE), held in Lisbon, Portugal, in December 2013. The major announcement is the decision of changing position: instead of assuming the role of a certifier, Abed will be “generating the norms” to be used by multiple and varied certifying bodies in Brazil and abroad. Thus, Abed, as a scientific society, will only be responsible for the intellectual and scientific part through its contribution in determining the relevant ODL skills and abilities, leaving for other entities, either public or private, the task of applying the identified criteria, making use of the available human, financial and legal resources to conduct examinations and grant certificates. Currently, we are developing the “norm” to be submitted to ABNT, in accordance with that organization. Nevertheless, we believe that there is a lack of knowledge about the Brazilian community of professionals, knowledge and information that will only be achieved through research on the scope of our own performance. 5. CONCLUSION Although ODL is not exactly a new practice, the introduction of digital media in the process represents a true revolution, demanding from the institutions and companies that offer ODL programs, new types of talent, inventiveness and vision. The explosive growth of online higher education in Brazil forced the institutions to promptly adapt options of face-to-face education to those who had never worked before with education oriented to this new generation of professionals. There are examples of successful and less successful cases. Now, it’s time to evaluate what has happened, what is happening and what should happen regarding those in charge of ODL in Brazil, with a question: what areas of vocational training do they come from? Are those with no academic background more “liberated”, more innovative? Have the teams composed by different educational and professional experienced people acted more successfully or have they presented operational issues? What are the most appropriate ways to carry out continuing education for ODL professionals? Also relevant are all forms of studying the patterns of training and experience, attitudes and expectations, ambitions and claims of that generation responsible for the production of ODL in Brazil, namely senior and junior (tutors) educators, scientists, psychologists, designers , programmers, video producers or marketing managers. The different specialties that compose the community of professionals involved create an important contribution for the advancement of the modality, increasing the quality of ODL activities and creating conditions to ensure the satisfaction of working in the area. Thou “the future” still remains ahead.
  13. 13. 15http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista 6. BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES ALVES, João Roberto Moreira. (2009) A história da EAD no Brasil. In: LITTO, Fredric M.; FORMIGA, Marcos (Eds.). Educação a distância: o estado da arte. São Paulo: Pearson, 2009. v. 1. pp. 9-13. AZEVEDO, José Carlos de Almeida. (2012) Os primórdios da EAD no ensino superior brasileiro. In: LITTO, Fredric M.; FORMIGA, Marcos (Eds.). Educação a distância: o estado da arte. São Paulo: Pearson, 2012. v. 2. pp. 2-5. BRASIL. Congresso Nacional. (1996) Lei de Diretrizes e Bases: Lei nº 9.394, de 20 de dezembro de 1996. Diário Oficial da União, Brasília, DF, 23 dez. 1996. Retrieved from: www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/leis/l9394.htm on June 16th 2014. CENSO EAD.BR. Relatório analítico da aprendizagem a distância no Brasil 2012 = CENSO EAD.BR: Analytic report of distance learning in Brazil. Traduzido por Opportunity Translations. Curitiba: Ibpex, 2013. Portuguese version retrieved from: <www. abed.org.br/censoead/censoEAD.BR_2012_pt.pdf> on June 16th 2014. English version retrieved from: <www.abed.org.br/ censoead/CensoEAD.br_2012_INGLES.pdf> on June 16th 2014.3 GUIBERT, Arlette Azevedo de Paula. (2012) Certificação dos profissionais da EAD. In: LITTO, Fredric M.; FORMIGA, Marcos (Eds.). Educação a distância: o estado da arte. São Paulo: Pearson, 2012. v. 2. pp. 389-395. KUENN et al. (2013) Competencias: requirements and acquisition. Maastricht: Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market. LITTO, Fredric Michael (Coord.). (2012) Competências para educação a distância: matrizes e referenciais teóricos. Relatório do Grupo de Trabalho para Certificação. Abed, ago. 2012. Retrieved from: <www.abed.org.br/documentos/Competencias_ Final_Ago2012.pdf> on June 16th 2014. LITTO, Fredric. (2002) The hybridization of distance learning in Brazil: an approach imposed by culture. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, v. 2, no. 2, jan. 2002. ______. (2008) Public Policy and Distance Learning in Brazil. In: EVANS, Terry; HAUGHY, Margaret; MURPHY, David (Eds.). International Handbook of Distance Education, Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, 2008. pp. 671-684. OECD. (2005) The definition and selection of key competencies: executive summary. Retrieved from: <www.deseco.admin. ch/bfs/deseco/en/index/02.parsys.43469.downl> on June 16th 2014. 3 CensoEAD.BR is an analytical, yearly and bilingual report concerning ODL in Brazil.
  14. 14. 16 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista OFQUAL: Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. Retrieved from: www.ofqual.gov.uk/help_and_advice/ comparing-qualifications on June 16th 2014. RYCHEN, D. S.; SALGANIK, L. H. (2003) A holistic model of competence. In: ______. Key competencies for a successful life and a well-functioning society. Göttingen: Hogrefe & Huber Publishers. VALOR ECONÔMICO. (2009) Abed lança certificado para profissionais do setor. Valor Econômico, 14 de agosto de 2009. ZWEIG, Stefan. (1981) Brasil, país do futuro. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira.
  15. 15. 17http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Educommunication and 21st century teacher qualification Prof. Dr. Ismar de Oliveira Soares Incumbent professor with USP (São Paulo State University), coordinator of USP’s ECA’s Educommunication Practicum Program and supervisor of Educommunication projects. Author of Educomunicação, o conceito, o profissional, a aplicação [Educommunication – the concept, the expert and application] (Paulinas, 2011). Abstract This paper builds the case for Educommunication as the theoretical and methodological framework to guide 21st century teacher qualification. To support our case, we refer to Italian philosopher Umberto Galimberti (Action Theory), Spanish philosophers Jesús Martín-Barbero (Communicative Ecosystem) and Javier Echeverría (Third Environment Theory), Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (Dialogical Education) and German philosopher Jürgen Habermas (Theory of Communciative Action). Opposing the utilitarian paradigm imposed by educational marketing which binds teaching and learning processes to technology efficiency, Educommunication advocates teacher and learner autonomy and ownership of technical resources in order to build creative open communicative ecosystems within learning environments. This paper advocates developing teacher and learner non-cognitive and socio-emotional competences that facilitate the community’s adhesion to transforming technology-mediated projects into languages that foster the construction of a differentiated, expressive and more compassionate world. To fulfill this aim, adequate 21st century teacher qualification requires turning teachers into managers of communicative processes in which dialogue driver of instructional planning and action. Keywords: Educommunication; technology-mediated actions; teacher qualification; communicative ecosystems; socio- emotional competences; management of communicative processes. 1. INTRODUCTION A great deal of today’s discussion on education explores how emerging technologies may influence the way an individual perceives other people and relates to them, thus developing and changing the environment they are in. In what concerns teaching processes, technology is still viewed by many as a mere set of teaching tools – irrespectively of how sophisticated they may be. Others view technology as a condition of civilization, almost like a communicative ecosystem in which education should nest to foster achievement of its guiding purpose – promoting learning.
  16. 16. 18 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Within this context, it is often advised that technologies, so rich in virtues, be embraced in teachers’ daily practices. The guiding argument of this paper goes beyond such concerns into claiming that technologies should be assumed as education’s object of study and reflection. In this paper, educators’ approach to technologies translates as Educommunication. Five authors are relied upon to support the discussion of the ‘man versus technology’ phenomenon. We will initially draw on Umberto Galimberti, Jesús Martín-Barbero and Javier Echeverría, then on Paulo Freire and finally on Jürgen Habermas to support USP’s School of Communication and Arts (ECA/USP)’s proposition of a Degree in Educommunication as an alternative for qualifying teachers in mediating the use of technologies in learning environments. 2. MAN, TECHNICS AND TECHNOLOGIES Italian philosopher Umberto Galimberti’s (2006) work Psiche e techne develops a detailed and thought-provoking historical- anthropological critique of technics as a requirement for the emergence of man as a rational being. His work presents Action Theory, which argues that human intelligence was not responsible for developing technics, but rather the latter would have enabled man to develop his own rationality and to ensure survival on Earth. Galimberti argues that men have a close and cause-effect dependence on technics. Men differ from animals not because they are superior on account of reason and intelligence, but because they lack the instincts that may guide them to thoroughly fulfill their needs. The lack of instinct-based support for immediate problem solving of environment-related hardships would have led the human race to fateful extinction if the gap between need and fulfillment had not driven men to action. Fulfillment – resulting from experiences – provided the necessary conditions for man to develop his ability to analyze, systematize and organize the world around him. His theory claims that given a wide array of stimuli and possibilities, the sequence of successes and failures enabled man to take a step back from its most immediate needs (an ability animals are not endowed with) and to design procedures and techniques that allowed this frail and unequipped being to rule the planet and develop culture. Contrary to animals, the human organism is not sensory and therefore, not able to respond to environmental stimuli. It is rather a productive apparatus that acts and thus, develops its own living environment as a response to action. That is, action or intervention upon the environment causes the emergence of situations and objects that did not exist before – but which are created by man’s action and his ability to challenge the very environment developed by him. For this philosopher, there is no actual difference between nature and culture, as in anthropological terms, technics – the feature that enabled the emergence of culture – is a natural constituent of man. There is no man without technics. Had it not been the mediation of technics – born from action – human intelligence would have remained a latent power and would not have led to action, reflection, self-awareness and ability to solve problems and transcend them.
  17. 17. 19http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Technologies stand for the multiple forms through which technics manifest. Galimberti argues that technics would rather be a leverage of culture or culture itself, a second nature to man without which man would not see himself as human. For him, without technics, man would not have become aware of his intelligent and rational nature, and able to construct knowledge, make history, dream and produce. By regarding technics as second nature, Galimberti does not view technologies as artifacts as we understand them today – from the most rudimentary (the wheel) to the most ingenious ones (the digital world and its never-ending breakthroughs) but rather as a set of devices through which man seeks solutions for his needs and life demands. In other words, man is intelligent because he does things. Technologies, as technics by-products, take on a new dimension – advances or setbacks in the way man acts upon the world. This philosopher calls our attention to the fact that the so-called progress, born from technologies, can yield not only evolution and advances but also setbacks! We are all too aware of certain technologies ended up out of their creator’s control, winning autonomy over man, suffocating him and ruling over him under the form of ideologies. Thus, the more complex we make a technical tool, the more we weave it into other tools and magnify its effects, but also reduce our ability to understand processes, effects, and – if we wanted to – the objectives we are bound to. This gap between technical production on one end and human perception on the other end often leads us to feel not fit to our actions. And when actions are at the service of something beyond our control or understanding, we lose the ability to react. Galimberti explains that passive nihilism as discussed by Nietzsche emerges exactly when something disproportionate freezes us at the threshold of something we are not able to grasp. Most disasters result rather from technics that regulate and certify the economic regime, actions and measures taken by leaderships or a group of individuals than from intentional effects aimed at by decisions we make. As a consequence, we become emotionally illiterate, unconcerned about our afflictions, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and environmental damages, taking the concomitant huge wealth of some and extreme poverty of others for granted. As technologies are developed and embraced as indispensable face to the progress we have achieved, they give way to self-destructive procedures that lead us to feel the need to reinvent technics in an attempt to assign some meaning to technology and thus, reassure our ability to analyze and anticipate future realities by using our intelligence and rationality. Air pollution is one of the most recent examples of the hegemony of technologies over politics which undermines our pragmatic ability of analysis and anticipation. The Italian philosopher warns us that: “Our ability to anticipate can not be wiped out – this ability that the Greeks had assigned to Prometheus, the inventor of technics, whose name literally means ‘the one who sees by anticipation’ [Pro-methéus]. It is this ability that today’s man lacks, as he is no longer able to anticipate r even imagine the effects of his doings. We must prevent the ‘age of technics’ to become a landmark of this
  18. 18. 20 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista absolutely new – and perhaps irreversible – time in history and ask ourselves “What will technics do to us”? rather than asking “What can we do with technics?”.” (GALIMBERTI, 2006:827). Galimberti argues that we should not acquiesce to the fact that technics has not become totalitarian (four fifths of mankind are still excluded from its most visible benefits), as the decisive step towards absolute technics, towards the machine of the world would have already been taken, although our emotional nature has not realized that yet. Hence, it is high time we reinvented technics! It should be noted that both classical philosophical thinking and modern essentialist science oppose Galimberti’s work as neither wishes to compromise on the principle that sustains the primacy of reason over other senses of man and place such primacy as the driver of economics and social organization. In spite of such disagreement whatever judgment is passed on this philosopher’s views, the reflection that supports the discussion of this paper is the following: through action we can take a stance towards the future of this planet, plan such action and educate our people. This is the technical reason that supports the realm of Educommunication. 3. A NEW TYPE OF TECHNICITY: COMMUNICATIVE ECOSYSTEM In his September 2008 discussions about information technology with USP’s School of Communication and Arts Post- graduate students, Spanish-Colombian philosopher Jesús Martín-Barbero focused primarily on the meaning technicity is taking over culture in information society. For him, culture changes as soon as the technological mediation of communication becomes structural and is no longer instrumental. Martín-Barbero (2005) claims this is a turning point in human history, when we are faced with a new type of technicity whose particular feature is to constitute the structural component for developing a true communicative ecosystem. This emerging ecosystem is associated to a new cognitive economy which not only defines what is meant by knowledge but also specifies how knowledge is produced. This author claims that the computer is not a mere machine, since it stands as a new technicity that enables the processing of raw data such as abstractions and symbols, resulting in a new relationship between the brain and information which replaces the traditional body-machine relationship. Knowledge sharing is thus undergoing changes and leading to one of the deepest paradigm changes any society can go through. Knowledge is now disperse and fragmented, out of control and reproduced out of its – up to now – traditional environments of dissemination, like family, school and church. Martín-Barbero assumes that information technology (its tools and content knowledge) has become a new paradigm of society’s organization, given that: i) it is interwoven with its material composition products; ii) it is interwoven with production processes; iii) it has become a product in itself.
  19. 19. 21http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista It follows that information society has set in motion worldwide interconnectivity between everything that has some informational value – corporations and institutions, peoples and individuals – while it disconnects everything that has no value for informational purposes. We would thus be experiencing the deepest reorganization and reassignment of power through what we understand as our world today. Both Umberto Galimberti and Jesús Martín-Barbero seem to end up feeling somewhat disappointed and at times, to share an undisguised apocalyptical view about the impact of technologies in man’s present life and actions – although such stance does not rule out the assumption that intelligence, a product of technics, may reorient, through practice, the same reasoning that was diverted by subversive logics. For both authors, man can trace his way back by becoming aware of the need to exercise his control over technologies through well-designed plans aimed at sustainable global development. To fulfill this aim, education about technics and the world of technologies is essential. 4. MASTERS OF THE AIR AND THE THIRD ENVIRONMENT The same proposition is put forward by Spanish philosopher Javier Echeverría (1999) – education that allows clear understanding of the nature of technics, mediated by available communication technologies (media and internet) and carried out within a new ecosystem that is linked by digital communication. Echeverría called this new ecosystem the third environment,1 a representational and multichronic phenomenon that can yield huge benefits for society like distance communication (breaking the notion of territory) and networking, which renders invaluable services to human collectivity by broadening possibilities of expression for all social categories. Within this environment, however, there are serious barriers to free access to such benefits, which result from a silent but effective quest for worldwide control initiated by society minorities located at the top of the technological pyramid and which have been called masters of the air. Contrary to what happens in the second environment, new power holders are not states or public institutions – both potentially under society’s control – but worldwide Telecommunications and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) multinationals that impose their own rules (which serve their own interests) upon states and consumers, who remain hostages of these corporations’ schemes. 1 Javier Echeverría calls the first environment the ecosystem around the natural environment, around man’s body and community organization: the clan, the family, the tribe, with their habits, rituals and languages. The second environment would be human condition resulting from the so-called urban-centered material progress – the polis, the market, the workplace, cultural practices, religions, the exercise of power. The third environment comprises the set of information and communication media tools that allow man to get away from the first two environments. According to the author, living in the third environment has been facilitated by a set of seven tools: the telephone, the radio, television, electronic money, telematic networks, multimedia and the hypertext.
  20. 20. 22 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista This author reminds us that it is not technology per se, but man – within the context of his quest for controlling information sources (which have become merchandise) – who generates this new conflict, given that technology is just a means in itself. So to ensure the digital world’s humanization, Echeverría claims for the rise of a civil counter-power to face the increasing control that the masters of the air have bestowed upon themselves through their strategic alliances. This is thus a political approach to technological tools, even when the object under question is educational processes. 5. COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES ACCORDING TO FREIRE AND HABERMAS Paulo Freire showed little enthusiasm for technologies, but was concerned about technology manufacturers’ and sellers’ marketing. Although he introduced data processing laboratories in mainstream state schools in the city of São Paulo while he was Secretary of Education, he assigned only relative importance to computers in education, but rather focused on human relations between those involved in the educational process – teachers and students (GÓMEZ, 1999). His book Extensãooucomunicação? (1970) became one of the most popular and inspiring sources for alternative communication and education practices in all Latin America by strongly opposing what he called industrial instruction, which is unfortunately still delivered in most educational institutions. Also known as banking instruction, this methodology is primarily based on the mere transfer of content knowledge from the teacher to the students without promoting thoughtful investigation of what is being studied or the discussion of arguments based on critical analysis. Students, thus, become passive recipients of knowledge. This functional teaching and learning mode features no collaborative participation in the construction of new meanings. Freire’s views on the interface between Communication and Education have inspired a dialogical perspective to the use of several communication media and to the need of reframing education from the perspective of communication processes that are inherent to teaching and learning. Another philosopher that discusses dialogical action is Jürgen Habermas (2002), author of Theory of Communicative Action. For Habermas, man’s key action as a social being is not his work or production, but communication. Therefore, he argues for a deeper analysis of this praxis. His reflections, however, do not stem from specific observation in either the field of Education or Communication, but from observing the world as a wholesome social environment. Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action evolves from the awareness that people use language for social organization and this process unfolds from interactions in which interlocutors seek consensus but no coercion into intense exchange of arguments that lead to acknowledging and validating the principles that stem from this ideal linguistic interaction. Interlocutors seek mutual understanding and communication can, thus, validate propositions or legitimacy rules that may only emerge from the participants’ agreement through their speech. This interaction reflects the exchanges between interlocutors through freely engaged discourse.
  21. 21. 23http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Freire and Habermas are referred to in this paper not as a methodology for fostering dialogue, but rather specifically to build on the possibility of social transformation of reality resulting from communicative practice in consonance to Galimberti’s, Martín Barbeiro’s and Echeverría’s above discussed ideas – they all argue for man getting over his dependence on technologies through Action Theory. 6. COMMUNICATIVE ACTION IN TEACHER QUALIFICATION With regard to teacher qualification, we dare say that the civilizing model, as discussed above, makes the redesign of teacher functions a strategic must in teacher qualification management. This redesign tackles not only fostering the understanding that instructional practices should go beyond a one-all model into an all-all model, but also advancing the understanding of the very nature of the communication process that unfolds within the communicative ecosystem of the so-called third environment. Teachers must be reeducated to leave behind the knowledge-transmission role and embrace an inquisitiveness-developer role. More than ever, the use of new technologies requires educators to learn how to dialogue with their students so to mediate a more thoughtful exchange of arguments and procedures oriented towards the development of critical attitude. We are not arguing for constructing a new rationality, but for taking on a new attitude towards life. Therefore, communicative action should also take into account what modern psychology calls socio-emotional or non-cognitive competences. This was the theme of the congress held in the city of São Paulo in March 2014 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which gathered representatives of 14 countries to discuss the impact of non- cognitive competences in learning. Participants concluded that learning was directly subject to the quality of teachers’ performance – gauged by teachers’ socio-emotional competences – as mediators of the learning process. In other words, ‘new [attitude]’ learners will depend on ‘new [attitude]’ teachers! The discussions led the Brazilian Ministry of Education to offer scholarships for post-graduate studies on the nature of said competences. The debate on teachers’ quality as mediators of learning has focused mainly on teaching practices. Studies conducted by Mizukami (1986), with PUC/RJ’s School of Education, compared whether the teaching and learning theories viewed by teachers as the best fit for the present times were actually translated into classroom practices by those very same teachers. Findings showed a gap between what is preached and what is done – the latter still focusing on traditional or the so-called banking practices. Mizukami discussed the need to review teacher qualification processes to include more cognitive and socio-cultural experiential activities with these more recent theories to enable teachers to reproduce them in their future teaching practice. Likewise, Perrenoud (2000) argues that current teacher qualification should comprise at least the development of what he calls 10 families or branches of competences: (1) organizing and managing learning situations; (2) managing learning sequencing; (3) designing and fostering development; (4) engaging students in autonomous learning and tasks; (5) team
  22. 22. 24 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista working; (6) participating in school management; (7) communicating with and engaging parents; (8) using new technologies; (9) dealing with professional obligations and ethical conflict; (10) managing their own continued education. Perrenoud admits this is not a final list, but rather a checklist to be regularly reviewed and updated in the light of the context of an ever-changing world. Alongthesameline,asimilarpropositionispresentedbyLeitão&Justa(2013),whoaddcommunication,masteryoftechnologies and promoting human relations among modern teaching possible competences and required abilities. It should be noted that concerning technologies, these authors do not mean the mere instrumental capacity-building for classroom use, but mainly for instructional use oriented by specific practices that develop the various required competences. All the above referred contributions about teaching competences, however, do not go beyond the realm of baseline teaching, even when they value the so-called socio-emotional or non-cognitivecompetences. They do not discuss the current civilizing priorities explored by Galimberti, Martín Barbero, Echeverría, Freire and Habermas that refer to the political-technological constituents of the third environment communicative ecosystem. The latter limits and conditions man’s way of acting and being in the world, and in this sense, the ‘new’ teacher should add to the teaching competences and to valuing students’ subjectivity a view of the world that would complement traditional teacher qualification – the educommunicative paradigm. 7. EDUCOMMUNICATION TOWARDS COLLABORATIVE LOGICS Echeverría’s concern about the mastersoftheair controlling what Barbero (2005) identifies as the communicativeecosystem leads us to reflect about the logics that underlie those policies that place education at the heart of the clash between the right to freely construct knowledge and knowledge imprisonment by communication channels privatization. It is precisely at this crossroads that Educommunication emerges as crucial to making the three sectors of society – public power, private enterprise and schools – walk hand-in-hand towards a broader scenario as the one that civil society has featured since mid 20th century in promoting collaborative logics to develop social living models within the third environment. Teachers’ and learners’ technological autonomy becomes a priority, then, the goal of Educommunication. Experts’ papers, as well as multinational marketing communications, have repeatedly stated that technologies must be put at the service of education. The lessons we have learned from the authors that supported the initial discussion herein are contrary to this proposition. They suggest that education takes over the communicative ecosystem from the hands of excluding and hermetic models set by the so-called information society. We argue for a reversed route: in addition to placing technologies at the service of education, it is imperative that education be at the service of full awareness of what technologies mean for society. This is precisely the “action” (Galimberti) that Educommunication should serve. This is also the point made by Martín-Barbero (2005) when he warns us that intellectual property – the legal support to the privatistic view of the masters of the air – clashes against the potential unveiled by information technologies, requesting from lawmakers, system engineers, public developers and managers, politicians and educators an additional imaginative
  23. 23. 25http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista effort to design new forms of democratic regulation that are able to safeguard the multiple forms of proprietary rights – and still keeping them apart from the plot designed by economic conglomerates to hold control over international information. A warning to educational communities: turn the much-debated theme of technologies into educational action to clarify the nature of information society to the greatest number of people of all generations. The education system is responsible, on one hand, for keeping ‘healthy’ information about the communicative ecosystem fostered by technologies and aimed at its democratization, and on the other hand, for monitoring – in what refers to procedures – what some civil society entities define as the competences to be dealt with by 21st century educators. Amongst such competences we certainly find the non-cognitive and socio-emotional competences, taking into consideration children, adolescents and young adults’ quick adhesion to educommunicative pedagogy when they are provided with access to technologies, to knowledge that can explain technologies and their logics, and especially when their power to transform said technologies is acknowledged – the power to transform technologies into languages that initiate the construction of a differentiated, expressive and more compassionate world. 8. DEVELOPING TEACHERS’ AND STUDENTS’ EDUCOMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCES The pedagogy embraced by USP’s Communication and Education Center (NCE, in Portuguese) in consultancy developed for the Education Bureau of the city of São Paulo has effectively implemented small projects that involve teachers, students and education communities to value the association between the logics that underlie well-defined educational approaches and students’ and teachers’ socio-emotional potential regarding collaborative processes. The optimal pace of implementation led to the dissemination of Educommunication in 455 municipal schools between 2001 and 2004. The small projects that connected media-related production (including the use of radio language, video production and the use of digital technologies) with cross themes that were relevant for both teachers and students have promoted not only teachers’ and students’ learning but also broad school adhesion to Educommunication in the ten years elapsed since project inception. To achieve Educommunication aims, educators must not only efficiently manage project-based instruction but also manage communicative processes considering that the major lesson to be learned by teachers and students alike is the need to collaboratively build a new world using open and creative dialogue as a persuasion tool. Communication management consists of regarding communication as a process in which those responsible for guiding the tasks are also responsible for mediating the relationships within a given environment so as to promote dialogue and pluralism (COSTA; LIMA, 2009) and thus develop and strengthen communicative ecosystems (SOARES, 2002). Only communication management, relying on everyone’s engagement and creativity, may ensure the appropriate use of technological resources and optimize communication between community members (SOARES, 1999).
  24. 24. 26 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista 9. DEFINING EDUCOMMUNICATION For NCE (ECA/USP)2 researchers, Educommunication is defined as [...] sets of actions that are inherent to the planning, implementation and evaluation of processes, programs and products oriented towards developing and strengthening communicative ecosystems within educational or virtual environment, as well as towards improving the communicative ratio of educational actions, including those related to the use of information resources in the learning process (SOARES, 2002:24). In other words, Educommunication was acknowledged by NCE/USP as a human living environment that experienced the concept of communicative management – not as a new methodological or teaching approach, but as a much broader and deeper concept or, better still, a new paradigm in the Communication/Education interface. It was actually a political and instructional movement rightfully born within civil society that aimed essentially at developing collaborative relationship processes. Specific competence-related practices required for social transformations enabled higher level public education academic acknowledgement and validation 15 years later. It should be noted that along the past 15 years (1999-2014), according to CAPES theses database, over 100 studies on Educommunication (Master’s dissertations and PhD theses) were developed in post-graduate programs in the areas of Communication, Education, Social Sciences and Psychology all over Brazil (PINHEIRO, 2013). Such studies evidence that the major feature of the practices in the above referred fields comprise implementing specific actions that are driven by teacher-student-educational community strategic alliances that lead to establishing collaborative learning communities. Such practices stem from empowering students towards the development of communicative ecosystems in which there is intense Exchange of ideas and actions, which are mediated by open access to information technologies. The emergence of this field led to outlining the profile of a new professional, the educommunicator, who is able to plan, coordinate, implement and evaluate his/her teaching practices taking into account that such practices are mediated by (analogical and digital) technologies and the communication management processes that enable the aimed education. In 1998, the 1st International Congress on Communication and Education promoted by NCE/USP, Professor Geneviéve Jacquinot, Sorbonne University, defined the teacher-educommunicator as part of her Communication/Education research. She highlighted the following set of specific knowledge, abilities and competences: • acknowledging that mass and multicultural education allows students to go beyond the acquisition of school knowledge; • valuing young learners’ mediatic (analogical and digital) culture; 2 The research entitled Inter-relações entre communication e educatção na cultura latino-americana [‘Interrelations between communication and education in Latin American culture’] was conducted by the Communication and Education Center (NCE) of São Paulo University’s (USP) School of Communication and Arts (ECA) in 1997/1998 in collaboration with experts from 12 Latin American countries, under this author’s coordination.
  25. 25. 27http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista • viewing communication media as repositories of information content and mediator of world representation processes; • empowering students as subjects of communicative processes, in which they alternatively play the roles of receivers and senders, thus taking on the role of active agents and creators of new content and meanings; • using communication media in teaching and learning processes to show students, through practice, the economic, ethical and political power it yields; • explaining and practicing discourse, audience and context clues that build into and assign meaning to messages; • mediating instructional processes and moving beyond unilateral transmission of content; • promoting intense reflective dialogical processes between students, that is, what Bohm (2008) argues to be developing ‘thinking together’ processes. Geneviéve Jacquinot identified possible points of contact between the educommunicator’s action features proposed by NCE/USP and those competences expected from teachers that are qualified to deal with the so-called socio-emotional (or 21st century) competences developed by students in their daily school life. 10. A EDUCOMMUNICATION NA ESCOLA DE COMUNICAÇÕES E ARTES DA USP Since the publication of the findings of NCE researchers in 1999, which assessed Educommunication as a new field of social intervention, ideas about this theme have spread over Brazil and Latin America. There followed a demand for courses on theories that underlie the new proposition, leading the School of Communication and Arts (ECA/USP) to design an undergraduate program, a strictu sensu (Master’s and PhD) post-graduate program and extension activities centered on Educommunication. After negotiating for some 10 years with the University Dean, ECA started the first Educommunication undergraduate class in 2011 so as to meet the demand for this new professional, the educommunicator. The program aims primarily to qualify teachers for managing communication in educational environments and other education-oriented environments, and is aimed at those who want to teach primary and secondary school, as well as to those who wish to render communication technology-mediated services in the educational system and at organizations, communication entities and corporations. Additionally, since 2012, ECA/USP has also offered a Specialization course in Educommunication at non-degree lato sensu post-graduate level, whose target audience comprises primary and secondary teachers as well as those who work in the media and in corporate education. Educommunicator qualification complies with the requirements set forth by Law no. 9394 of December 20 1996 which establishes the Brazilian Education Baseline Directives. These directives introduce communication, its languages and related technologies as content knowledge and methodological resources to be developed in primary and secondary education.
  26. 26. 28 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista This reality challenges us with something much more complex than the learning of technologies. It reflects the qualification of responsible and critical citizens, for whom a new paradigm of educational communication is required. 11. BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES BOHM, D. (2008) Diálogo: comunicação e redes de convivência. São Paulo: Palas. BORDENAVE, J; CARVALHO, H. M. (1979) Planejamento e communication. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra. CITELLI, A. O; COSTA, M. C. C. (2011) Educomunicação: construindo uma nova área de conhecimento. São Paulo: Paulinas. COSTA, M. C. C; LIMA, C. C. N. (2002) Novos paradigmas para a comunicação. In: Costa, M. C. C. (Org.). Gestão da comunicação: projetos de intervenção. São Paulo: Paulinas, pp. 67-102. DE KERKHOVE, D. (1999) La piel de la cultura: investigando la nueva realidad electrónica. Barcelona/Espanha: Gedisa. ECHEVERRÍA, J. (2014) Hay que crear un contrapoder civil para reglar el control social que permitan las nuevas technologies. Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, arte y pensamento, [20--?]. Retrieved from http://ayp.unia.es/index. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=418 on June 6th 2014. ______. (1999) Los señores del aire: telépolis y el tercer entorno. Barcelona: Destino. ______. (2014) Resúmenes de las intervenciones en el seminario I de la deshumanización del mundo. Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, arte y pensamento, [20--?]. Retrieved from: http://ayp.unia.es/index.php?option=com_ content&task=view&id=411 on June 6th 2014. ______. (1994) Telépolis. Barcelona: Destino. FREIRE, P. (1970) Extensão ou comunicação? Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra. GALIMBERTI, U. (2006) Psiche e techne: o homem na idade da técnica. São Paulo: Paulus, 2006. GOLEMAN, D. (1999) Inteligência emocional: a teoria revolucionária que redefine o que é ser inteligente. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Objetiva. GÓMEZ, M. V. (1999) Paulo Freire: releitura para uma teoria da informática na educação. Retrieved from: <http://www.usp. br/nce/wcp/arq/textos/144.pdf> on July 9th 2014.
  27. 27. 29http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista HABERMAS, J. (2002) Agir comunicativo e razão destranscendentalizada. 1st ed. Rio de Janeiro: Tempo Brasileiro. JACQUINOT, G. O que é um educomunicador? O papel da comunicação na formação de professores. ICongressoInternacional de Comunicação e Educação, maio 1998. São Paulo, 1998. Retrieved from: < www.usp.br/nce/wcp/arq/textos/11.pdf> on June 10th 2014. LEITÃO, E. J; JUSTA, G. (2013) Competências e habilidades necessárias ao educador contemporâneo. São Paulo: Opção. MARTIN-BARBERO, J. (1998) Desafios culturais da communication à educação. Revista Comunicação e Educação, São Paulo: Moderna/ECA-USP, no. 12. ______. (2002) La educación desde la comunicación. In: Enciclopedia Latinoamericana de Sociocultura y Comunicación. Buenos Aires: Grupo Ed. Norma. ______. (2005) Cultura y nuevas mediaciones tecnológicas – America Latina: otras visiones de la cultura. Bogotá: CAB. MCLUHAN, M. (1996) Understanding media: the extensions of man. São Paulo: Cultrix. MELLO, L. F. (2012) Educommunication e os espaços hipermidiáticos: uma possibilidade de aproximação. AnaisdoIVEncontro Brasileiro de Educommunication. São Paulo. MIZUKAMI, M.G.N. (1986) Ensino: as abordagens do processo. São Paulo: EPU. PERRENOUD, P. et al. (2002) As competências para ensinar no século XXI: a formação dos professores e o desafio da avaliação. Porto Alegre: Artmed. PERRENOUD, P. (2000) Dez novas competências para ensinar. Porto Alegre: Artmed. SOARES, I. O. (2007) A mediação tecnológica nos espaços educativos: uma perspectiva educomunicativa. Revista Comunicação e Educação, São Paulo: CCA/ECA-USP/Paulinas, Year XII, no. 1, Jan/Apr. 2007. ______. (1999) Comunicação/educação, a emergência de um novo campo e o perfil de seus profissionais. Contato, Brasília, Year 1, no. 1, pp. 19-74, Jan/Mar 1999. ______. Gestão comunicativa e educação: caminhos da educomunicação. Revista Comunicação e Educação, no. 23, pp. 16-25, Jan/Apr. 2002. Retrieved from: <www.revistas.univerciencia.org/index.php/comeduc/paper/view/4172/3911> on June 6th 2014.
  28. 28. 30 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista SOARES, I. O; COSTA, M. C. C. (2002) Planejando dos projetos de communication. In: BACCEGA, M. A. Gestão dos processos comunicacionais. São Paulo: Atlas, pp. 157-179. TAPSCOTT, D. (2010) A hora da geração digital. Rio de Janeiro: Agir. VIANNA, C. E.; MELLO, L. F. (2014) Cultura digital e a educomunicação como novo paradigma educacional. Revista FGV Online, 6th Ed., Dec 2013. Retrieved from <sv.www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista/home.aspx?pub=1&edicao=6> on June 6th 2014.
  29. 29. 31http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Interview: Paulo Lemos Corporate education as a tool to prepare executives to obtain better results for the organization Paulo Lemos, FGV professor, director of FGV Management in São Paulo. By Maristela Tavares Corporateeducationisanimportantissuefororganizationsthatintendtodistinguishthemselvesinthemarketplace.Inorder to prepare their executives to obtain better results and increase competitiveness, organizations use corporate education programs through partnerships with specialized institutions or through corporate universities within the institutions themselves, both face-to-face or distance education. Below, an interview given to the academic production manager of the board for Educational Solutions at FGV, Maristela Rivera Tavares where professor Paulo Lemos, director of FGV Management at FGV Sao Paulo, discusses these concepts. Do you believe that the growth of corporate education is associated with some kind of vacuum left by formal or college education or is it indeed a natural movement to complement higher education? I believe some people might have this deficiency and seek to remedy such inadequacy with executive education, but this is not the main goal of corporate education. It intends to give the executive the required knowledge and skills at each stage of his career, enabling him to become more productive and achieve better results for the company. How can corporate education make an organization more competitive within its own market segment? The business world is always evolving and there is great competition between companies. There is a need for the company to be increasingly productive and capable of inventing new things. And it can only do this through people. If the executive is not prepared, not trained, if he has no such knowledge or ability, he will not achieve that in his organization. The pressure among competitors creates the need for the company to constantly provide training to their executives. That’s why corporate education is growing so much and will continue to grow. We know that corporate education means more than just conducting training sessions. It seeks to include employees into the strategy of the organization. Therefore, they need to feel involved with the proposed program. How does one arouse such interest? First of all, it is not that simple. The executive is inserted within the organization. The corporation has to understand that from the moment it provides training to executives they acquire new skills and knowledge. So, the executive can not be put back in the same place, at the same position, doing the same things. The organization must be prepared to make the most
  30. 30. 32 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista of that executive. Also, as this process happens, the executive gets more satisfied with the company. He feels included; he sees that the organization has prepared a position for him, based on his newly acquired knowledge. That’s a well done integration. But I repeat – integration has to be a two-way street. What may organizations which promote corporate education programs require or expect in return from their employees? If the corporate education offered to the executive is really good, it has a purpose. It means you need a person with specific knowledge and skills. So, all of that will be connected to one another. Return comes because the company was also prepared to make the most of that executive. Nowadays, the pressure is increasing and competition is fierce. Companies have to be aware that it’s not enough just to train the staff. It also needs to be prepared. To receive him back… To receive him back and have the return of the investment. How can organizations measure such return of investments in corporate education? If you want to measure through an internal rate of return on investment, it will be very difficult to measure. But for example, if training took place, it has prepared a new challenge for the executive, a new position. The result that he brings in this new position allows us to see that there is a return. Measuring in numerical terms is somewhat difficult. I do not know any way organizations can do that because it is virtually impossible. However, the company can see the result in terms of what that executive is offering to the company after the program. Do you believe that the lack of skilled labor – which is a topic that concerns most organizations – can be minimized through strategies focused on corporate education? Corporate education is not enough. You must have it in different areas ... In the executive area, it became huge, but as a whole, you need to provide training in all areas. Organizations must offer better training, for example, to their engineers. Engineers must be continuously developing. Doctors, good doctors study all the time. Every week they keep a few hours to study. This is continuous in all areas, not only in executive education. Executive education is more visible because of the competition between firms. In all areas, there is a need for people to be continuously evolving and watching the whole development of the economy as a whole. If not, that organization will lag behind. What about distance learning? How can it be used within the process of executive education, in a program of corporate education? Both, distance education and classroom-based education have the same goal. They should be used according to what is best for the organization at that time. For example, Vale do Rio Doce has mining operations in the middle of the Amazon region – executives working there can not afford to take a face-to-face course. So, for them, the choice must be a distance course. But if the person is able to take a classroom-based course and enjoys the live interaction, he must choose a face-to- face. In distance learning programs, you also have this interaction. It is mediated by technology, but it exists. Basically, the organization should choose which method best fits its needs and maybe even have a mix of both. They are equally good. Both have the same goal and both reach their goals.
  31. 31. 33http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista How do you see the current corporate education market? Is the trend for large organizations to create their own areas of educational solutions, similar to corporate universities, which are multiplying and taking over the whole process? Or should they turn to outsourced partners with expertise in this area? I work for FGV, so my answer may seem a little biased. Then, let’s consider another area: where a certain equipment or specific skill or knowledge is not the “core” [focus] of the business. What does the company do? It contracts out because outsourcing is much cheaper and gives more flexibility to the organization. Not for its core business, but for the surrounding business. Companies do this outsourcing. Executive education is not the core business of these organizations. Obviously, as stated earlier, they need to know what they want. They need to have people within the organization who know what it’s necessary and get ready for that. There is no use to create a university within the company. You have no flexibility. And you will have difficulties following the developments in all areas, including education. I see corporate education much more as an area within the corporation that is getting prepared to hire what it needs and makes a good plan to get back the executive who was prepared that way.
  32. 32. 35http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Beyond the chalk The challenge of supervised practicum in distance teacher education programs Raquel Villard Associate professor with the Post-Graduate Program in Public Policies and Professional Qualification – State University of Rio de Janeiro. Márcia Spíndola ABD (doctoral candidate) with the Post-Graduate Program in Public Policies and Professional Qualification – State University of Rio de Janeiro. Sílvia Helena Mousinho ABD (masters candidate) with the Post-Graduate Program in Public Policies and Professional Qualification – State University of Rio de Janeiro. Abstract Despite the relevance of this curriculum component, a number of questions interweave the practical qualification of primary education teachers as they undertake their supervised practicum. This article examines some of these issues, especially the discussion on systematic observation, as it builds into a framework of practices that feature this discipline within both face- to-face and distance undergraduate courses. It also highlights the responsibility of teacher education schools within the current scenario of mainstream basic education. Finally, the potential of supervised practicum in distance teacher education courses is explored as a catalyst of effective changes in the Brazilian educational system. Keywords: supervised practicum; schools of teacher education; distance teacher education courses. “Since educating children is no longer viewed as a family’s responsibility, teacher education aimed at mainstream schooling became, in turn, a responsibility of the State and a recurring issue of social policies.” [free translation] Carlos Roberto Jamil Cury 1. INTRODUCTION Deficiencies in basic mainstream education in Brazil, especially concerning state education, are widely known. Although the debate flares anew every time news is released by international media about Brazil’s disparaging position in international rankings, no effective measure has been taken to reverse this situation.
  33. 33. 36 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista On the other hand, there is little or no mention to the fact that our learners do not fail by themselves or intentionally, or that hordes of children are not interested nor take the effort to study. Our students fail because our schools have historically failed in their primary function – that of facilitating students’ learning. On top of the much debated flaws of our educational system, we must acknowledge that we have not been able to educate future teachers to appropriately hold the ground in the classroom and beat the challenges they Will face in their teaching practice. Although the legislation provides for teaching practice to be integrated to formal teacher education – “Teaching practice must be addressed from the onset of a teacher education program and interweave it throughout teacher qualification1 – teaching practice is only actually experienced during the supervised practicum. A compulsory component of any teacher education curriculum, the supervised practicum is like a ritual of passage – when future teachers walk through the classroom door and experience “critical features of identity and knowledge construction and of the attitude expected of a professional practitioner” (Pimenta; Lima, 2008:61). Therefore, framing a practicum model that prepares future teachers to develop teaching excellence throughout their life should be at the heart of the whole teacher education process since its inception, for face-to-face and distance programs alike. 2. SOME ISSUES RELATED TO THE PRACTICUM Although the practicum is a most relevant curriculum component, several other issues tackle the development of a basic education teacher’s teaching practice. Grasping these issues may help us to have better qualified teachers who are also better prepared to help their students construct their knowledge. The first issue to be investigated regards the practicum model. According to the legislation in force,2 every higher education institution is allowed to design their own model – which would be very positive if there were baseline parameters to be complied with. As there are none, various models abound and requirements range from incipient to highly complex as they rely on various conceptions. The results, as it may be expected, could not be less varied. Such diversity of models allows, at times, student-teachers to meet their whole practicum hours’ requirement by attending one single class delivered by classmates during a workshop for the Teaching Practice discipline, or by producing a statement issued by an educational institution that they have delivered an “x” number of lessons... This somewhat stunning perspective would be analogous to expecting a Dentistry graduate student to be prepared to perform professionally after having practiced a single cavity filling during his whole higher education qualification…. 1 Resolution CNE/CP no. 1, of February 18, 2002. 2 Supervised Practicum for teaching qualification must comply with both Resolution CNE/CP no. 1/2002, which sets directives for teaching qualification programs and Law no. 11.788, of September 25, 2008, which provides for all practicum activities at all qualification levels and fields in Brazil.
  34. 34. 37http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista The second issue stems from the first. Despite the various models adopted, pursuant to The General Provisions for Supervised Practicum,3 teaching practice development relies upon two academic activities – teaching guidance delivered by the higher education Institution and supervision conducted by the mainstream basic educational school where the practicum is undertaken. Concerning teaching qualification, however, the practicum does not lie upon a bipartite but rather a tripartite framework, once the driving concept of the teaching practice delivered by the higher education4 is subdivided into two dimensions – providing guidance about how to teach and ensuring the correct and appropriate what to teach. The supervision conducted by the basic education school where the practicum is undertaken aims to ensure the relevance of the teaching practice to the class it is destined to, as well as its cross- and interdisciplinarity with other school subjects said class is taught. This tripartite framework requires from both individual and institutional parties the availability and willingness to negotiate the trainee teacher’s adequate and relevant functions and activities, once these functions will directly affect the ultimate results achieved by the class under his/her responsibility – either developing or hindering students’ learning process. When the effective integration of these three components and the engaged participation of student-teachers in the daily school life of the class under their responsibility does not occur, the practicum eventually becomes a hindrance to the smooth development of school activities and routine, as student-teachers are not integrated to the school environment. To mitigate the negative outcomes of such situation, some institutions have created a “central practicum office” staffed with clerical professionals who are responsible for all the red tape – required documentation – and an instructional support team in charge of supervising trainee teachers’ practicum at both levels – academic and professional. Nevertheless, what actually happens is that the above intended guidance usually translates into one single visit from the instructional staff on the student teacher’s actual teaching day – the last day of the practicum. Prior to that, the student teacher only observes experienced teachers and engages in out-of-class activities – what can be defined as a rather passive participation, with no intervention in the daily school teaching. And eventually, student-teachers end up being awarded a certificate that enables then to be an educator... The third issue is of even greater concern. As the back bone of the “axis around which all theory and practice revolves”,5 the supervised practicum should actually be the means through which a student-teacher becomes a professional of education. 3 Law no. 11.788/08, with special consideration of Art. 3 §1. 4 Although rare, there exist cases in which guidance and supervision are performed by one same teaching expert, who is responsible for all the functions comprised by these two dimensions. 5 Resolution CNE/CP no. 1/2002, Art. 11, Item. VI.
  35. 35. 38 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Still, after at least 14 years of schooling – nine in basic education, three in high school and two in higher education – a student-teacher is still relegated to sitting and observing, at most to doing out-of-class activities... In trying to find some sense for so much observation in the 21st century, we assume that observation is viewed as a way of learn by looking – as in old times – which is, nonetheless, antagonistic to a learner-centered and learn-by-doing approach prescribed by current literature and legislation, aiming to provide student-teachers with increasing opportunities of practice to develop their autonomy, responsibility and teaching competence. It is assumed that by observing other teachers, student-teachers may breathe in new airs and gain insight into something different from the “moldy” methodologies, integrated teaching projects and interdisciplinary themes they have learned at school. However, as per the resources that are available at school and the results our basic education has shown, this is not the case. Another assumption is that student-teachers reflect on the teaching practices they observe and use the fruits of their reflection in renewed discussion to be held within the school environment. Reality, however, shows that reflection-on- action does not generate reflection-in-action, as reflection seems to end up translated into a report submitted for the purposes of course final grades. It is also assumed that the observed teachers become a role-model of competent and effective teaching practices that can be replicated. Nevertheless, as the practicum takes place in state schools, student-teachers find themselves in a desolate environment full of all sorts of problems and setbacks – not quite a model of teaching practice excellence. These three issues hold a cause-effect relationship with Art. 7 of the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law (LDB) – CNE/CP no. 1/2002. This Article provides for Basic Education Teacher Qualification at Higher Institutions to establish a “systematic interaction” between the higher institution and the mainstream basic education school where the supervised practicum takes place by developing shared, collaborative teaching projects that would further enhance student-teachers’ qualification. We are not arguing for bringing the so-called schools of application into this process. We argue for higher institutions to be truly committed to providing quality professional experience and for teacher education schools to become catalysts of improved basic education. Or still, for ensuring that student-teachers have access to suitable and consistent practices that promote effective outcomes in what refers to students’ learning process and right to citizenship. 3. STUDENT-TEACHERS A qualification process that ultimately produces a passive and report-writing practicum while keeping student-teachers away from actual teaching cannot be viewed as suitable for the purposes of preparing student-teachers to take on their teaching role and put all the theory they have learned into confident, creative and learner-centered practice.
  36. 36. 39http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Knowledge acquisition is a complex process in which individuals relate with society, education and work. Only by reflecting and bridging theory to concrete problem-solving practice on a daily basis can professionals consolidate what they learn at school and commit to the teaching-learning process as a life-long investigation process, as claimed by Moraes: Which are the literature references that can guide our search for a new educational paradigm that is able to reconcile scientific and technological advances, renewed teaching practices and men and women’s (re)constructed knowledge about the world? (MORAES, 2004: 23). The relationship between practice-theory-practice established by reflection-on-action and -in-action shapes and organizes teaching practice, once “theory cannot replace nor do without practice, but suitable theoretical references are critical for efficient practice”. (Barata-Moura, 1977:34 – free translation). Not having a sound theoretical background disables this process and the commitment towards innovative practice. Emerging issues like school violence and using emerging media then clash against old problems like lack of physical and organizational resources, overcrowding, outdated instructional materials and low teaching salaries. As Paulo Freire taught us, decades ago: Teachers’ struggle for their rights and their dignity is an ethically critical component of their practice. It is not extraneous but inherent to the teaching practice (...) The question that rises is not giving up fighting, but society’s acknowledging this fight as historically legitimate also in what concerns new ways and modes of fighting. (FREIRE,1996:74). 4. PRACTICUM AT DISTANCE COURSES When distance education was implemented in Brazil, after LDB was enacted,6 some idealistic apologists argued that distance education was a virgin territory where a whole new education mode could be cultivated to free us from a vicious educational system doomed to failure. Countering them, conservatives contended that true quality education could not do without teacher-student face-to-face (F2F) interaction and all that distance education aimed at was cheaper, ‘shallow’ education not compatible with existing teacher education modes. The past 15 years have proven both perspectives right to a certain extent. Quality education can spare F2F interaction, as technology has brought physically distant individuals closer at synchronous encounters on the web – a major qualitative advance in communication media. Still, we have not advanced towards innovation, as we tend to replicate in distance education the same old F2F practices we were familiar with. In doing so, we replicated old practices – and problems. 6 National Education Guidelines and Framework Law (LDB), Law no. 9.394, of December 20 1996.
  37. 37. 40 http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista Our students’ still low performance indicators evidence that. So does the fact that teacher education schools attract mostly students from the lower classes, because who else would be willing to get a higher education degree to earn the low salaries paid to Brazilian teachers and put up with a daily feeling of failing students who can barely learn anything? A little over 30 years ago, Darcy Ribeiro admonished that “the much debated educational crisis in Brazil has become an educational process implemented on a never-ending basis. The fruits we will reap tomorrow will speak for themselves” (Ribeiro, 1979). Tomorrow has come and we can see that Ribeiro was right. We have a precarious school and university structure, and consequently, most “Young people do not believe good schooling is synonymous with good jobs” (Frigotto, 2009). Our ruling class has always been “highly able to design and implement social policies that meet their interests by keeping the population hungry, stupid and ugly” (Ribeiro, 1979). Assuming that the Brazilian State has supported such policies, our higher education institutions and teacher education courses have been equally responsible for the educational crisis and student failure. Teacher education courses, with reference to distance education, are little or no different at all from F2F education. To achieve positive results, they require public infrastructure policies that are not implemented by the State and which result in below-the-expectation student achievement. Currently delivered teacher education courses perpetuate the chronic shortage of teachers – mainly in specific areas such as Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics – as well as the chronic problem of low student achievement and knowledge acquisition. It may be further argued that they have widened the gap and future generations will unfortunately pay a high price for that. The frontiers conquered by distance education are a universe of possibilities towards doing it differently. However, it will take new dynamics to overcome traditional models and to qualify teachers that go beyond teaching into making students learn. The nature of the supervised practicum makes it the locus of this transformation. As we consider the various distance education models, the challenge yet to be met by supervised practicum is the guidance provided by the instructional staff, which tends to be even more precarious than in F2F environments because it is also delivered by distance modes that make little use of all the digital communication media that are available to large urban centers. Distance instructional guidance can only be viewed as an insurmountable obstacle in places where the endless possibilities provided by digital media are not available. It should be noted that out of large urban centers, a considerable portion of our population has poor access to broadband, cable or optic fiber internet connection, and in these places, dialed connection is extremely expensive. It becomes evident that public policies overlooked making internet access freely available to all schools around the country – despite the legislation providing for Higher Education distance undergraduate courses to compulsorily have physical
  38. 38. 41http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/revista facilities as a support base. In such locations, high speed access from a mobile phone network should be able to record videos that would be sent to students and thus, implement a substantial transformation in the distance supervised practicum. A key point remains – student-teachers cannot waste the valuable opportunity the practicum provides in schools whose teaching practice is as outdated as 50 years! The applicable legislation provides for transformative actions within the environment of the schools who offer supervised practicum aimed at collaborative assessment of school problems and weaknesses, so that social and instructional projects can be developed to establish closer bonds with the community, innovative methodologies can be experimented with, and teachers can be better qualified to use technology. Said transformative actions should involve collaborative activities in partnering higher education institutions, mainstream basic education schools and the community so that knowledge can be collaboratively constructed and shared – like a river that overflows and fertilizers all its neighboring area. Student-teachers cannot be expected to confidently implement innovative practices if they are not familiar with or have not experienced innovative methodologies. If higher education institutions advocate interdisciplinarity but do not put that into practice; if they argue for teachers to develop their students’ potentials but keep the practicum as passive observation without actual practice or interaction with the school environment; if they systematically do not do what they preach, all the theory that underpins their academic discourse becomes fiction and they eventually fail their primary function of qualifying professionals that dare the school’s fate of failure. Technology today allows sharing videos that foster forum discussion of the teaching practice and further systematic reflection, thus generating the conditions for student-teachers to grasp a wider and deeper insight of the profession they have chosen to embrace. Likewise, a number of cohesive and consistent measures must be taken towards implementing an up-to-date instructional materials database to be shared by teachers and students and which can be the springboard for a true community of practice that will share experiences and knowledge and which will engage in collaborative projects. The various barriers we face – violence at school, special needs students, behavior and learning problems, community relations – may be overcome if addressed collaboratively with sound practices that go beyond rhetorics and are also implemented at academic level. As long as we remain chained to the past and disregard the lessons taught by Paulo Freire and Darcy Ribeiro’s warnings we will continue to have bitterly low positions in international rankings and carry the burden of four own inertia. The challenge of encouraging children and adolescents to learn and to overcome their adverse social conditions and build a more promising future has to become a reality. However, a piece of chalk alone is not enough to meet this challenge.

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