New trends in Education and Research in conditions of Emerging New Information Technologies and Global Information Infrastructure building in Ukraine

Yu. Demchenko
Associate Professor, CAD Dept., NTUU "KPI"
demch@cad.ntu-kpi.kiev.ua
October 1997

Abstracts

Paper discusses general trends and problems of Education and Research development in conditions of emerging new technologies and Global Information Environment. New principles of Education in Information Environment are based on existing paradigm shift in modern education changing role of teacher from source to producer of information and role of students from passive information receivers to active knowledge accumulator. Possibilities of Internet for education and Research are considered. Discussed results are based on two years experience in active instructional methodology development in Kiev Polytechnic Institute.

1. New Trends and Technologies of the Information Age
2. Education and Research in Global Information Environment
3. Paradigm shift in professional education
4. Main Principles of Teaching in Networked Information Environment
5. Existing Experience
6. Summary
7. Reference


1. New Trends and Technologies of the Information Age

Internet and Global Information Infrastructure (GII) development in the world change the main paradigms in Education and Research and rises new tasks caused by mankind survive Information Revolution and start building Information Society which is defined as post-technological society.

The pace of revolutionary technology changes decreases exponentially:

50000 years ago - primitive man started to speak and conceive discrete picture of the world operating with primitive concepts and images;

5000 years ago - literacy appeared giving first opportunity for acquiring knowledge in the form combining text and pictures

500 years ago - book-printing invented; great opportunity for knowledge acquisition and dissemination, involvement of many people into research and education

50 years ago - computer and communications give new possibility and tools for multimedia data acquisition, dissemination, processing and messages exchange

5 years ago - WWW was invented as hypermedia information presentation: information acquisition, processing, access and search in Global Information Environment.

Last mankind invention World Wide Web give people tool for facilitation of the power of abstract thought because of WWW operates with mixed (multimedia) information very similar to real thinking process. Now WWW technology becomes basic for development of Knowledge Network operating with knowledge and information across the network and independently from the form of information presentation. The wonderful feature of the web technology is the possibility to model via itís directory and hyperlink structure the model of information and knowledge presentation in the brain, as it was defined by Lev Vygotsky, Russian Psychologist: "The word (information) is itís search" [1].

GII based on Internet and WWW technologies provides powerful tool for global knowledge integration.

On the background of global economyís integration companies and countries survive global competition. In the knowledge based economy of Information Age knowledge and skills become the key factor of competition. Distinctive feature of modern Knowledge Based Companies (KBCo) is continues improvement of their products by integration and attraction of knowledge and skills of developers, implementers and users via bug reporting, beta-testing and other approaches for knowledge absorption and skills involvement. The very existence of KBCo is based on constant technologies development and change as well as on learning acquired skills.

Such picture of the world wide economy differentiation/distribution is not fatal but stress on the main factor of success in the modern world/economy - the knowledge and skills that should be supported by lifelong learning and training. IT and GII were the main facilitator of forming Information Society and they are main base for doing in the knowledge based society.

In global information environment developing countries or countries with emerging technologies are suffering in general from the high technologies changing pace that doesnít correspond to the national economy development pace. The processes are leading and are caused by forming "slow" and "agile" nations in respect to technology innovation and implementation [2].

Complete globality of modern IT and possibility for its instantaneous dissemination via GII allows to make technological leap-frog for developing nations and countries with emerging technologies. But such trends should demand special concern and national policy in education and training areas.

2. Education and Research in Global Information Environment

Education should respond on global challenges of forming Information Society in providing necessary background for successful people living in this new knowledge based formation:

On other side, IT provide efficient tools in education for tight interaction with external environment and facilitation of knowledge acquisition owing to global access to information (and knowledge) and possibility to increase number of experiments during learning.

The education area is becoming now the place where many technologies meet, converge and are tested by real practice and coexistence. Education area/activity is becoming important part of general companiesí activity (notwithstanding the structural affiliation - to company or university). Education becomes a conductor and promoter of new technologies and area where new approaches and new social imperatives are forming now.

Particularly, GII provide the following powerful possibilities for Research conducting and management

New aspects of education and research in networked information environment and IT usage are based on approaching assistance tools to the real process of abstract thought process New approaches in education and training should increase the assistance-to-contributive effect, i.e. education and training organisations should become the knowledge based organisations themselves and implement KBCo corporate model. Contributive effect in IT education should shift from secondary process to productive. Changing approaches in professional education should utilise the learning process (or itís results) for creating information and knowledge base for teaching next generation of students and/or trainees.

Classroom integration into Internet will demand special approach for curriculum design and instructional methodology used that should be focused on reaching main teaching goals because of learners in such environment have real choice "to stay" in the class or escape into Internet surfing. Curriculum have to take into account existence of such global information environment as Internet. Teacher must afraid that his/her students will be lost in the open global information space. Education and culture globalisation and internationalisation shall not impact on national cultures. In this circumstances education at itís initial stage have to inoculate national and cultural values to learners. (Students should accept priorities of national values in integration into the global IS). During education and further lifelong learning people should take over new global criterias (but not change values) applying and adopting them to the national values.

This approach can play constructive role even in the case of inevitable "brain drain" (physical and via teleworking) caused by growth of transnational corporations and global workforce integration and migration. In general this process is inevitable because of objective development of transnational corporations that utilise and integrate the most important value of mankind - human intelligence. Conformity to international criterias in professionality and skills will raise common professional and knowledge level among local specialists.

Development of GII and communication infrastructure will be facilitated by

Rapid technology changes and economy IT-directed restructuring in Ukraine (as country with emerging technologies) rise another problem with "professionally lost" generation. Wide demand of knowledge intensive qualified workforce in IT (and programming particularly) causes problems with completed professional education. Students that have at least initial knowledge in IT and programming are absorbed by many small companies for serving their IT needs. In difficult economical situation they are forced to earn money that, in general, contradict with needs for intensive learning according to curriculum. Young people of the third-fourth years in Universities go to professional sphere without formed professional credo that could affect their potentiality to innovative qualification growth in the future. Professional consciousness should correspond to the professional knowledge to secure constant and successive professional growth and knowledge acquisition but not only skills.

3. Paradigm shift in professional education

In modern networked information environment the main paradigm of professional education is sufficiently changed in actual roles of teacher and students. Old methodology was based on concept of the classroom as the ultimate place of knowledge receiving where teacher plays the role of source and transmitter of information and knowledge and learners play the role of receivers. Teacher could learn from his/her experience. But now with rapid technologies changes very few teachers can teach from their own experience.

The problem for education is that competition between transnational industry leaders provide increased pace of technologies development and changes. Therefore, in current conditions the main paradigm of education is changed to cooperative and contributive learning in which teacher plays role of information producer and curriculum adviser but students act as information accumulators and knowledge acquirers. They become responsible for necessary knowledge acquisition based on curriculum experience but teacher has to manage education process and set up an appropriate motivation system, in other words, teacher will teach students how to learn and set motivation frame for successful and timely curriculum performing.

Teachers in the new instructional methodology have to satisfy the following demands

Students are learning in cooperative project based environment oriented on producing final results that help them to acquire knowledge in adjacent areas of common project group competence. Contributive process of education in IT should work on developing meaningful information resources increasing national presence in GII.

The real challenge for Ukraine as country with emerging technologies in Professional Education on IT and IT based courses is Constructivistic instructional methodologies incorporating active position of teacher and students in tight interaction with global information environment:

Project or Problem Based Learning (PBL) that is effective in information and knowledge rich environment with developed infrastructure [3, 4, 5]

or Cooperative and Contributive Learning (CCL) that is PBL adopted to the conditions of emerging technologies and developing communication and information infrastructure [6, 7].

4. Main Principles of Teaching in Networked Information Environment

Existing experience acquired during implementation of elements of PBL and CCL instructional methodology in teaching Networking Information Technologies and Services at CAD department in NTU "Kiev Polytechnic Institute" allowed to formulate the main principles of education in Global Networked Information Environment.

These principles can provide real base for establishing active position of teachers and creative role of learners.

  1. The new paradigm of education in modern Networked Information Environment should be incorporated into instructional methodology development

  2.  
      Learning from the Internet - Contributing to the Internet
  3. Cooperative Learning Model + students initiative.

  4. Using Internet/Intranet technologies Teachers and Learners can mutually benefit from implementation and mastering new technologies. Key role in exploring this principle belong to educational projects and rely on Cooperative model of course management that effectively use students initiative in mastering new technologies
  5. Contributional Learning model.

  6. In conditions of wide use of computers and multimedia technologies among students and rapid technology changes, teachers sometimes can not have strong benefits in practical technological experience. In this circumstances they should play the role of mentors and/or managers of educational process or curricula. Teacher can propose some idea of contributional learning when students or students groups work on the projects that will have real implementation in building Campus computer network, development of information resources or other Societyís meaning.
  7. Integration of traditional and distance learning.

  8. New networking environment provided by Internet/Intranet eliminate differences between traditional and distance learning, however, stressing on interactive on-line (IRC, conferencing) and off-line (e-mail, mailing lists) communication between teachers and students.
  9. Concept of "active position".

  10. Complete implementation and full benefits from using Internet and New Information Technologies in Education can be reached only by using this principle that is very close to the idea of contributional learning. It is not enough to give students and teachers Internet access only. To use effectively Internet, faculties should start development of their own Internet resources and creation of its own Internet presentation.
5. Existing Experience

Pilot project on development of Educational Program and Instructional Methodology for Teaching Computer Networking and Internet Information Technologies has been started at Computer Aided Design Department in Kiev Polytechnic Institute.

Two groups of 50 engineer students of the firth year have started education in September 1995 and 1996. 17 students of the first group have successfully defended their Master theses in June 1997. All students were involved into development of complete educational course technical and information base.

The main intermediate results of pilot project realisation can be stated

  1. Formulation and testing in real practice Cooperative and Contributive Learning Instructional Methodology in teaching Networking Information Technologies and Services
  2. Creation and operation of educational server and development of technical base for cooperative work of tutors and students on educational and information resources development.
  3. Development of training materials and information library for practical studying of Internet technologies that are used now both for students self-training and for users training courses
  4. Involvement of students in pilot testing of instructional methodology, development of educational base and creation of WWW information resources of societyís meaning was resulted in development of information content of two experimental servers
  1. Creation of the critical mass of specialists and students involved in development of educational courses and correspondent research activities
Current experience allows to suppose that wide implementation of such instructional methodology and whole realisation of itís potentiality in local conditions will affect teaching of another IT related courses at the Department and lead to their integration on the base of Internet/intranet networking and information technologies which were found to be very effective for re-engineering educational process and developing collaborative learning models.

6. Summary

Education and research in present rapidly changed environment caused by Information Revolution and GII spreading over the world have to challenge new approaches and paradigm shift. The importance of Education, particularly professional education, is increasing now as base for successful implementation of the new technologies.

Cooperative and Contributive Learning model was found as effective approach for developing new instructional methodologies in Education in Global Information Environment.

Professional academic contacts have to be established for cooperative development and wide dissemination of the new educational courses and instructional methodologies.

7. Reference

  1. Vygotsky, Constructivism, and the Internet. - URL: http://www.glasnet.ru/~vega/vygodsky/links.html
  2. Paul Kennedy. Preparing for the Twenty-first Century. - Vintage Books. A Division of random House, Inc. - New York. - 1993. - Pp. 428.
  3. Introduction to Problem-Based Learning. - URL: http://www.imsa.edu/team/cpbl/cpbl.html
  4. Overview of Project-Based Learning. - URL: http://bellnet.tamu.edu/res_grid/ovpbl.htm
  5. R.Lenschow. On the Electronic Highway to Lifelong Learning. A Paradigm Shift in Learning and Technologies. - ICTEí97 Proceedings. - Oslo, August 10-13, 1997.
  6. Demchenko Yu.V. Cooperative and Contributive Learning - the real choice to push professional education in Networking Information Technologies in Ukraine and CIS. - JENC8 Proceedings. -- Edinburgh, Scotland. -- May 12-15, 1997. -- Pp. 822-1 - 822-7.
  7. Demchenko Yu.V. New Paradigm of Education in Global Information Environment: Learning from the Internet - Contributing to the Internet. - INETí97 Proceedings. - "The Internet: Global Frontiers. The Annual Meeting of the Internet Society. - 24-27 June 1997, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.