Dr Niraj Thurairajah, Programme Director at Birmingham City University, United Kingdom
Digitalisation has changed the way we do things. It has the potential to fundamentally transform how and what people learn throughout their lives. However, the reality is that the technologies are used simply to reinforce outmoded approaches to learning. We need a new approach to see how we learn in this new digital age. Connectivism is a new digital age learning conceptualised by Stephen Downes and George Siemens which is about networked, social learning. Learning in Connectivism is considered as an actionable knowledge that can also exist outside people and focuses on connecting specialised information sets. These connections enable people to learn more from the current state of knowing. In other words, Connectivism model of learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity because the knowledge is distributed across the networks. Moreover Connectivism works through understanding the decisions which are based on rapidly changing information. In a rapidly changing context such as disaster situation, it is vital to form a learning environment where connections are recognised and people are allowed to learn continuously. This type of environment is referred as ‘Learning Ecology’ in several studies (Brown, 2000; Baron; 2006 and Siemens, 2007). Learning ecology focuses on the connections and relationships that exist in the learning environment. However, A Learning ecology include different components, understandings and relationships which are used for the process of imagining, designing, constructing and implementing certain goals in a particular situation. This session explores the notion of Learning Ecology with the use of a BIM (Building Information Modelling) construction project to show how learning in practice can create a self-adaptive learning environment.
Dr Ethel P. Valenzuela, Deputy Director of SEAMEO Secretariat, Thailand
The benefits of lifelong learning including basic and functional literacy programmes are well documented. On-going youth and adult education programmes related to skills development and/or life skills abound as policy makers see the link between lifelong learning and poverty reduction. However, there are pressing new challenges on disaster risk reduction (DRR) that arise in the Southeast Asian region due to climate change. The research presentation will outline the state of the art in youth and adult education literacy policies and programmes on DRR. For example, in the Philippines, some policy and capacity development programmes developed, shared, innovations developed and regional training seminars were made available in the Region. The research presentation will share good practices, challenges and recommendations to strengthen lifelong learning in the region and beyond.
Dr Satoko Yano, Programme Specialist of Inclusive Quality Education (IQE), UNESCO Bangkok, Thailand
The Asia-Pacific region has struggled with coping with natural hazards-induced disasters which have caused devastating economic and social impacts for the last decades. The fact that the region has experienced more than 40 percent of 3,979 disasters that occurred globally between 2005 and 2014 (UNESCAP, 2015) shows urgency of the issue. Apart from massive-scale disasters, there also have been numerous smaller events that hardly receive attention from global society but have significantly affected local communities – including its education system.
International frameworks on Disaster Risk Reduction including Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and Sendai Framework for Action (SFA) have clearly emphasised the importance of local level actions in order to build and enhance resilience from the ground. This is also highlighted by shared voice from international education community. A newly launched education agenda “Education 2030” encapsulated in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 and its corresponding targets also underlines strengthened role and responsibilities of local stakeholders. This continuous and active engagement from local actors can be fully ensured through lifelong learning opportunities for everyone which is also strongly promoted by Education 2030.
What we should be aware of, however, is that despite this awareness and emphasis at international level, there still lacks practical supports for local level stakeholders to develop and improve their capacities around key new concepts and subject areas of the abovementioned international agendas and ultimately in building resilience of the community. UNESCO Bangkok, in this context, as Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education overseeing 47 countries in the region, has been actively leading supports for its member states through its programmes targeting local stakeholders. The efforts of building capacity of local level actors in planning (micro-planning toolkit) and providing supports for community learning centers will be presented.
Professor Simon Molesworth, AO QC and Vice-Chancellor's Professiorial Fellow at Monash University, Australia
With the effects of climate change increasingly becoming apparent, the global community is experiencing and is likely to experience natural disasters at exponential rates. In addition to natural disasters, the incremental and accumulative effect of climate change is predicted to lead to consequential social disasters due to societal disruption, dislocation and threats to the capacity of communities to maintain their traditional modes of existence, or at worst, to even subsist. Resultant social tensions will give rise to responses in the form of increased warfare, border conflict and potentially a climate change refugee crisis in many regions across the globe. In short, cultural heritage and the stability of extant social systems are fundamentally jeopardised by climate change.
With the first response strategy to disaster inevitability and understandably directed at subsistence: food, water, health and physical wellbeing, as well as law and order, I maintain that more assured resilience to disaster will only be achieved if the cultural integrity of people is also sustained. Risk management in response to potential and actual disaster, both natural and social in character, must proactively address the means to sustain the core cultural values of affected communities. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11, which focusses on “making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, reinforces my proposition that sustaining cultural integrity is of fundamental importance.
The history of warfare and cross-cultural conflict confirms how dreadfully effective the destruction of culture can be in suppressing opponents. Oppressed people have inevitably seen their societal values suppressed by conquering forces. Human rights are quashed as the repressed are forced into a disconnection with their cultural roots. So too it will be with climate change: disasters will be so much more comprehensive and devastating if risk management strategies do not pre-disaster address the means to retain cultural integrity and, post-disaster, address the means to reinforce the importance of people staying true to their value systems, providing the means to sustain in a changed and disrupted world their identity, their connectedness to places, things and beliefs which are at the heart of their culture.
In the context of education, sustaining cultural values is indeed a lifelong learning experience. Explaining values, fostering “pride in place” and reinforcing that sense of belonging should be a key component of all community education. It is the culture of each individual and groups of individuals, be they families, villages, towns or regions, which provides that all-important sense of belonging – connectivity. Culture is the glue that binds groups of people together. In turbulent times post-disaster there can be no greater means of containing further risk than to pro-actively seek to strengthen resilience by leaving embedded in each and every individual and community their connectedness to their origins, their history, their customs and all their manifestations of cultural identity.