Friday, April 7, 2017

Ottiya: Children, Educators, & Creatives as Co-Creators

Up until recently, I was on a standard path to do research before I decided to take a leap of faith and step outside of the boundaries of academia.
As a former teacher, curriculum designer, and researcher, I realized that there was and continues to be a huge gap between research and practice for creative learning and education. The world of international education continues to be dictated by standardized data, assessments, and competition, but what is better for humanity and also what is more valuable in the creative & innovation era is storytelling, creativity, and sharing. 

International standardized assessments are unable to capture the hopes, dreams, and anxieties of students, educators, parents, and others in the ‘education ecosystem’. It is dangerous to rely on standardized data--incomplete information--to dictate education policy decisions.
How can we uplift the voices of the stakeholders of education who really matter most--especially children and educators--and set them on equal footing with leaders and influencers in creativity and education? How can we promote cross-national dialogue and sharing about what teaching, learning, and schools are really like all around the world? What if everyone--young and adult and expert and amateur-- became co-creators, collaborators, and facilitators of this conversation? I like picturing this alternative and more organic vision for int’l education with the image of a community garden where everyone can get involved in deciding the seeds we want to grow and the tools we want to use to nurture a garden dedicated to learning & education.
For the past eight months I have been working on an international education magazine that shares what creative teaching and learning is like with over twenty contributions from ten different countries. This past week, we began crowdfunding to jumpstart the project. Many people share the vision of our project, but it’s been very difficult to find actual backers of the project outside of my circle of friends and family. There are many reasons for this such as a lack of understanding of crowdfunding and also a kind of bystander effect that someone else will back the project. I think many people think that likes and shares on social media would translate into actual financial support, but that’s not the case.
If there’s anyone in this group who is interested in our project so that we can take what we most cherish most about learning--something personally meaningful, creative, and fun--and share that with countries all over the world, I invite you to check out our project & consider supporting financially. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

South Korea's Reforms for a Creative and 21st Century Economy & A Call for Collaboration on Cross-National Education Research

On June 28th, I presented on my report on Preparing Students for South Korea's Creative Economy: The Successes and Challenges of Educational Reform to a live audience at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. We were also joined by people who live streamed from the US, Argentina, Canada, and Korea. 

It was great to be able to share about South Korea's educational reforms & explain how my research relates to broader discussion in comparative education research.

The Necessity to Combine Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Writing the report showed me yet again the power of qualitative research to capture the day-to-day teaching and learning in classrooms and to illustrate how students and teachers are affected by a complex combination of school dynamics and factors from the larger society.  Interviews, case studies, and photographs can capture "small data" that helps us to visualize the stories of educational reform and thus enhance the value of existing cross-national studies. Integrating qualitative and quantitative research methodologies will make research more usable and engaging for teachers, policy makers, and tech-companies (which are increasingly entering the tech-education market). Also, information gathered and shared by qualitative researchers can help quantitative researchers to better understand what kind of information is high in demand for practitioners.

Launching Pad for More Cross-National Research 

I will continue to find creative ways to produce information that can help key stakeholders and shape discussions on what is quality and equitable education in the 21st century. With so many countries thinking about similar educational outcomes (e.g. the improvement of children's socio-emotional well-being, increase in opportunities for students to explore their passions and interests, and the development of non-cognitive skills and competencies such as creativity, problem solving skills, and communication skills), there has never been a more exciting time for meaningful cross-national knowledge sharing and exchange.

I hope that my Korea report and presentation will be a springboard for more cross-national research projects that reaches a larger audience. Currently, I am in the process of developing ideas for a platform that serves as a hub for cross-national education research, which will focus on quality and equitable learning in the 21st century and will provide helpful, engaging, and forward-thinking research and information for education practitioners. If you're a researcher, teacher, or anyone else interested in sponsoring or collaborating on future cross-national projects, please fill out this form.

Thankful for the Springboard

I am grateful for the widespread interest in the report from various other countries including Denmark, Thailand, and Japan and for Sir Ken Robinson for retweeting the report. Also, in July 2016, the report became the most viewed report on the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada's website. 

27-minute presentation (subtitles available in Korean and English) (50-min. Q&A unavailable)
Presentation Slides: