AN OBVIOUS PARADOX
Modern society pressures the education system. Education does not keep pace with society and the disparity between the two continues to widen. Despite efforts and investments to be abreast of technological advances, preparing learners for their future remains a major challenge, especially in school models and practices dating from the 19th century (Kelly, 2019). The speed of technology development in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world where the digital environment is collaborative and malleable, paradoxically becomes a barrier and raises many concerns. Many studies prove it.
To be profitable in light of the current labor needs, societal expectations and international competition, companies are required to change rapidly, challenging schools to prepare learners for this evolving society. However, employers believe that young people are not prepared to succeed in the current skills-based economy. Moreover, learner disengagement from school is increasing due to the lack of experiential learning opportunities. Although technology can increase academic success and motivation, its evolution must imperatively promote a pedagogy that evokes creativity and innovation, and in which learners are active and actors. Sadly, on-the-job training and employee professional development are limited compared to comparable countries. And what about inclusive education in schools and communities? Many young people do not participate fully in the life of their community. Yet, doesn’t every child have the right to succeed and develop to their maximum potential?
Faced with the need to strengthen inclusive education, to promote a culture of lifelong learning and to narrow the gap between schools and society, the pressure is on the education system to infuse new life to adjust to this present-day reality. Catching up in education seems obvious so that youth can contribute to a world different from that of today. Collective collaboration between schools and companies will provide the means to remain competitive in the era of Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0, new industrial revolutions, imbued with digital and interconnected robotics, bringing fundamental changes both in systems and processes in management and manpower methods. Youth in Atlantic Canada, our workforce of today and tomorrow, nurtured by stakeholders throughout this school-to-work transition, will build digital skills to adapt and achieve the requirements of a technology-driven economy. This valuable human capital will benefit businesses, communities and schools triggering novel learning environments, encouraging the adoption of a digital strategy and a redefinition of professions.
It is obvious education must adapt and respond to the challenges created by these rapid changes. Academic organizations are pointing to promising avenues that can improve the education of today’s learners, including collaboration, creativity, computer thinking, etc., skills indispensable to them forever. In fact, the OECD, in its project The Future of Education and Skills: Education 2030, emphasizes that learning involves not only teaching and assessment but also the co-construction of knowledge. Indeed, in effective schools, teachers and learners become co-creators in the teaching-learning process, accompanied by parents and members of the community, including businesses, who collaboratively guide learners towards their goals, so they can understand the opportunities offered by this new digital shift. This personalized learning aims to support and motivate learners to cultivate their passions, to establish links between various experiences and learning opportunities, to design their own projects and learning process in collaboration with others, and to acquire and maintain strong literacy and numeracy skills.
Already, in 2016, the EECD plan, the 10-Year Education Plans targeted objectives to meet the needs of an innovative society, in particular: a balanced life, a committed and ethical citizenship, the desire to learn throughout life. In addition, Succeeding at Home: A green paper on education in New Brunswick (2019) highlights not only the importance of valuing education as an economic, social and democratic engine, but also the imperative to reinvent the schools supported by the community and local and international businesses. Indeed, in her study, Jetté (2015) underlines the importance of strengthening the community's capacity for social change, which involves a re-foundation of power structures in education. More recently, the study by Lachapelle and Bourque (2020) indicates that collective collaboration benefits the community by developing resilience.
THE NEED TO SHIFTING FROM
EGO-SYSTEM TO ECO-COMMUNITY
SMART SCHOOLS → SMART PEOPLE → SMART COMMUNITY
Although 20th-century capitalism fostered massive economic growth, including innovation and prosperity, it contributed to social inequalities and even market failures. Fuelled by the need for self-esteem, power, capital accumulation and competition, this ego-system is based on results and not on the number of participants in the economy. Unlike the ego-system, the eco-community embraces universal values and interdependence, requiring collaboration and partnership for all to participate in the economy.
Partnership: Establish an educational relationship with external experts, mentors and teachers to facilitate support for learners in our schools;
Career awareness: Highlight and value the needs and opportunities in NB;
Experiential learning: Provide learners with authentic and meaningful learning situations;
Virtual learning: Connect learners to learning and career opportunities wherever they are, and develop a shareable body of knowledge.
The Intr’Appreneur project attaches importance to digital issues in the labor market and education. It aims to create an educational environment to bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work to ensure a genuine inclusive education that promotes the professional integration of learners to the new economic reality. The term Intr’Appreneur refers to the opportunity to learn together, to co-create with others. This ecosystem, highlighting a community learning network, promotes personalized education by valuing the contribution of teachers, parents, researchers, learners, entrepreneurs and other partners to collaborate in the search for decentralized solutions to achieve school autonomy.
Community collaboration, at the heart of the Intr’Appreneur project, provides the foundation for improving the education system. When schools and communities collaborate to solve problems, they support educational projects aimed at improving the world around them, generating a strong sense of responsibility and commitment on both sides. Moreover, according to Beaumont, Lavoie and Couture (2009), this provides a deep sense of belonging, efficiency and motivation to teachers to engage in their school, while benefiting from the expertise and the experience of other community actors (field of services, companies, etc.).
Aligned with the vision and values of the EECD, "Plan vie carrière” (Francophone sector) and "Personalized Learning” (Anglophone sector), the Intr’Appreneur project responds to the community needs to contribute to the global and green economy. Its major partners Steelcase, Apple, STAPLES, Engage VR and Logics Academy support the countless innovative learning methods.
Face-to-face, remote and hybrid training (combining the two) enriches learning through the interaction of professionals from communities, provinces and neighbouring countries in technological initiatives aimed at solving environmental and cultural problems such as climate change, clean energy, rights and respect for Indigenous Peoples, diverse ethnicities and newcomers. Instead of limiting learning to a single approach and a fixed location, it offers completely redesigned ways of learning adapted to today's world. Community members and economic actors are present and active in the educational journey, offering learners a real-world experience while preparing them for this new era of work. The project calls upon schools, communities and industries to embrace innovation as a variable that promotes learning as well as the development of healthy, thriving and inclusive communities and schools.
BENEFITS FOR ALL
By participating in the Intr’Appreneur project, schools expand their pool of resources, curb work in silos, and help learners thrive and learn in an ever-changing regional, provincial and global economy. More specifically, the project wants to:
Restore parental and community confidence in schools and learning through projects that reflect local priorities and develop a better understanding of individual goals;
Increase the professional autonomy of school personnel; • Promote inclusive education and well-being;
Strengthen the role of schools in communities;
Enhance digital skills;
Explore new professional avenues in terms of future careers;
Encourage learners and teachers to become actors in their learning;
Foster collaboration and sharing of approaches and solutions between schools; • Strengthen 21st-century skills;
Develop risk-taking and resilience;
Access to ongoing education related to scientific knowledge;
Improve student achievement and the quality of education.
Entrepreneurs linked to this project will equally benefit. New, improved and interconnected products, services or methods resulting from student projects will provide visibility in the community, adding value and hope to companies faced with the changing market conditions. Not only will profits and customer communication improve, but entrepreneurs will thrive by displaying openness to digital skills and developments in the world of technology and research. After all, prosperity is a two-way street.
Digitization – How can we improve digitization capacity and position businesses to be more innovative, agile and resilient in response to changing market conditions?
Workforce of the future – How can we support school-to-work transition, help Atlantic Canadians build new skills in growing sectors and boost digital skills?
Green economy – How can we foster tech adaptation, waste optimization, clean energy and decarbonization of key sectors?
Inclusion – How can we increase the inclusion of under-represented groups and direct specific attention on Indigenous people, newcomers, international students, women and youth?
The Intr’Appreneur longitudinal project consists of four main phases that target the stages of developing a learning culture in a rapidly changing society. Collective intelligence leverages expertise within and outside schools through continuous professional development. Thus, school administrators and partners support teachers and school staff, strengthening the knowledge base to iteratively develop and refine their skills.
1. INITIATION PHASE : The first phase of two years, started in September 2019, consists of taking stock of the current state of knowledge to identify solutions to the educational issues raised by the literature and recent reports from EECD, aimed at meeting the needs of all students. In addition to visiting innovative schools and innovation research centers, scientific readings and discussions, the Management Team (DSFS) highlighted the urgency of connecting schools to the world of work by promoting the development of modern skills. Training on leadership, innovative practices and infrastructure led to a better understanding of the development of a school culture, with leadership nurturing deep learning. Thus, the Management Team, with the consultation of educational and community partners, developed learning spaces (layout and technological tools) in five schools. In addition, the Advisory Committee and long-term planning have been established.
2. AMPLIFICATION PHASE : The second three-year phase consists of the implementation of the stages, including the objectives, the measurement indicator and the deadlines. The project proposes the development of spaces for 15 schools (5 per year) with specific objectives. This phase captures the experiences of students, teachers, principals and community members serving as a guide in the evolution of the project by establishing benchmarks to facilitate changes in an interactive design process. In fact, feedback loops will make subsequent interventions more reliable in a dynamic evolving system.
3. INSPIRATION PHASE : The third three-year phase builds on the results and reflections of the previous phase to ensure the continuity of the project, while including the other districts of the province through the previous stages. During this phase, learners reflect on the needs of others and call upon other disciplines, their freedom of thoughts and their creativity to act on possible solutions. They engage their critical mind by imagining solutions with humane and societal values, desirable and possible, while relying on criteria conditioning the validity of an idea: feasibility (functional and achievable in the foreseeable future), viability (a sustainable economic model) and desirability (expectations of the target population).
4. ANCHORING PHASE: To ensure real change, the fourth phase helps secure the transition to the next project. Lasting three years, it requires deep change management towards the consolidation of new practices. This anchoring, which represents the beginning of a cultural transformation of the school, needs well-managed support for all those involved to ensure the sustainability of new practices over time. Only then will the participants be able to resist new challenges.