21 May 2019

‘Retos’ 2 analyses inclusive and personalized digital learning

The mission of the ProFuturo Observatory is to address the most relevant questions about digital education in vulnerable environments of developing countries. ‘Retos’ [“Challenges”] is a publication that brings together the main lines, trends and conclusions about the subjects discussed in the Observatory. The purpose is to take a hard look at these subjects, consequently generating knowledge and disseminating it among the education community. In the second issue of this publication (which can be downloaded in PDF), we analyse inclusive and personalized digital learning.

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According to a report from UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education, personalized learning is an approach that consists in paying special attention to the prior knowledge, needs, capacities and perceptions of students during the teaching and learning processes. But what would happen if a computer knew all of this about learning?

When we take personalization to the realm of technology, it undoubtedly ends up within the framework of artificial intelligence. And within artificial intelligence, we can’t help but look at one of its most interesting trends: Deep Learning. This form of learning, designed for machines, endeavours to emulate the way in which humans assimilate knowledge. As a result, Deep Learning’s algorithms replicate a structure that is similar to that of the brain’s neural connections.

With the help of Deep Learning, students become the protagonists of their own learning, and the teacher is a figure who supports students in a process of self-discovery that they themselves lead. In especially difficult environments, these types of proposals become indispensable.

If we want to achieve quality education for all, we cannot ignore half the population: girls and women face numerous obstacles to accessing educational opportunities. One area in which low female participation is a concern is in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Given that this is the area where it seems that jobs of the future will be found, the search for solutions to this gap is of even greater importance. While in recent years the participation by women in scientific and technological professions has increased, there continues to be under-representation.

Despite the advances in certain senses, considerable inequalities continue to exist at a global level. One example of these inequalities is the fact that even though 20% of engineering graduates are women, they only represent 11% of the active engineers in the labour market. Even more shocking is that, ten years after graduating, only 3 out of 100 continue to work in fields related to STEM.

The second special edition, which can be downloaded in PDF from the Observatory’s web page, ends by highlighting the main conclusions reached after an analysis of these subjects and by providing the opinion of experts such as Lucas Cortázar.

Throughout 2019, two more editions of Retos will be published on subjects related to digital education in vulnerable zones.