the phygital school

In this document we discuss the changes in education systems in this shift from the physical to the phygital era. The phygital school reopens its doors to the world, enlarged by the digital and orchestrated by the social [people and institutions, in a network].

A movement that overlaps the medieval school and recovers the learning models of Greek schools, this time on a global scale, made possible by the phygital world. Essentially without virtual classrooms, simulations that have already failed in the physical world and will not be maintained in the phygital world, as they no longer make sense for this whole generation after the industrial revolution, who do not want jobs, who do not want school, who no longer wants factories, at least not as they are.

the open school

a space to discover

In the beginning it was the verb. Aristotle’s Peripatetic School [335AC] was based on orality: the philosopher walked with his disciples outdoors, in the passages under the [peripatetic] portals of the Lyceum, while reading aloud and giving lectures. Aristotle can be considered the first Western scientist; we inherit its intellectual repertoire, the way to assess the problems of the world and investigate them in a structured way.

The school was a space for discoveries, an attempt to constitute a single principle, transcending everything that is changeable. With a basically empirical theory, which lasted until the Middle Ages, Aristotle always started to think from facts, corresponding to experiences. And today we have humans resistant to facts… and data. Think.

Before Aristotle, Plato’s Academy [387AC] already made use of the open space for his debates, however, he followed a much more speculative orientation. The gardens of the estate where philosophers built knowledge from contextualized debate were not surrounded by walls, which was less of a problem for learning based on… problems.

Before Aristotle, Plato’s Academy [387AC] already made use of the open space for his debates, however, he followed a much more speculative orientation. The gardens of the estate where philosophers built knowledge from contextualized debate were not surrounded by walls, which was less of a problem for learning based on… problems.

Discovering, whether from an empirical or speculative perspective, was in the essence of Greek schools, open spaces, both from a material, physical and conceptual point of view, of the possibility of not knowing at first.. And ask [yourself] why, always.

the closed school

a space to teach

School walls are a legacy of medieval schools, monastic and episcopal schools. Spaces for teaching, training people who follow a certain thought, repeat truths established a priori. And they want to hear them back.

Along with the walls came the principles of teaching as a monological action, a few speak to many who hear, assimilate and repeat. This is the current model, and has been for a long time. Monastic and episcopal schools date back to 6th century Europe, when Bento de Núrcia determines the concept of regula, recommending that in order to learn [to repeat] the apprentices [monks] should all be in the same place and under obedience to the abbot [abbas, or father].

In this school there is no space for discoveries, but only to repeat information and knowledge that is already written, consolidated. Especially in the sacred books, taught by the owners of knowledge. The books, copied by hand, the main source of information, were kept under lock and key for a privileged few.

Here, in the closed school, knowledge is static, it is ready, it does not have to be built, but repeated like mantras. It cannot be created out of thought.

the network disrupts the school

and… space goes into space

The participatory nature of many applications and social activities on the Internet is aligned with fundamental principles of how human beings learn, especially the practices of creation, sharing, collaboration and criticism.

The arrival of the commercial internet and all its potential for such practices has put the school’s historical mechanisms in check, especially the silent monologue of the classrooms, where students passively attend expository classes on topics that almost never interest them, not least because they are subjects far from the classroom. context, defined a priori to fulfill a pre-established content plan. Hence the structural disengagement of the school today.

The first attempts to combine the classical school with the internet were, and continue to be, disastrous; simulacra of an anachronistic classroom that look like early 20th century horseless carriages. Today’s online classroom does not use principles, foundations and the power of networks, much less a digital design and strategy.

We have a disconnected and disjointed school in the face of the world of networked possibilities, already perceived and incorporated by the vast majority of students, who learned to learn online, from and with other people, using open and connected platforms, where each and every group decides, based on learning hypotheses, what to learn, over time.

the connected school

a space to learn

The connected school, potentially could have existed for a long time, since the first steps of the internet, the almost oral writing or the written orality of this changing, digital environment, rescues the discovery as a process of continuous construction of learning.

At the connected school everything is ready to change all the time and therefore, to be discovered, built. Expanded by digital, the connected school is ubiquitous, it is everywhere and at all times, all the time. There are no walls, not even borders, learning is a voluntary action, which requires the engagement of apprentices, a curiosity comparable to that of the apprentices of Aristotle’s school, or of Plato’s academy.

In the phygital world, of networks of people, there is no more room for the monastic school of medieval Europe. The new apprentices were born connected, really enlightened by the broad access to information and more than that, to the contextualized dialogue, in a network, of people who want to learn, discover, build knowledge.

the dialogical school

a time to learn

At the phygital school, monological classes gave way to dialogical learning journeys: networks of people orchestrate the time to learn and build maps, digital tracks of their discovery paths. And the need to decide what, and when to learn, demands personal, group strategies.

Masters and apprentices find new roles in networks of people, dialogical, in this return to the school of discoveries. A school that was not designed to train repeaters of truths, but to prepare people to learn all the time, in their context. And to learn to learn, in any context.

The phygital school, therefore, is far from representing the end of the school, but it’s rescue from the school of medieval obscurantism perpetuated for centuries and repeated as if it were, the medieval school, the only possible and achievable scholastic experience.

In the time of learning, the starting point is not the answer, but the questions to be explored. Dialogic schools adopt inverted didactic postures, where the teacher does not answer, but asks, encourages learners to explore the information space to build knowledge together. And data about it.

the strategical school

a time to choose

Learning has always been a matter of strategies. Now, at the phygital school, the possibility of making choices in the learning processes is more evident. Digital platforms create the possibility to enable each apprentice to follow their learning course, in their own time, without there being an economically unfeasible demand for human support. Because the platforms, programmable, can create a scale for human performance.

The first choice is what you want to learn: curricula need to be increasingly flexible, adaptable to people’s aspirations. You don’t learn what you don’t aspire to learn.

Another typical choice for a fluid learning process is when to learn. The time to learn should not be the choice of another, but of the apprentice agent, in line with theirs availability, motivation and disposition.

Finally, the choice of where to learn, at the phygital school, also belongs to the apprentice. They are the one who chooses the place and device from which they want to access information, and participate in contextualized dialogues around what motivates them. Learning at the phygital school is a matter of choices. And each one’s choices.

a socialy embebed school

a space to transform

John Dewey, one of the most influential educational thinkers of the twentieth century, associated interactions, reflections and community participation in a pragmatic proposal in which education should embrace and expand the apprentices’ world experience, while continually rethinking the learning process and connect education to experience, to practice.

Such a learning system based on the necessary connection between education and experience is based on research [to discover and understand the world], communication [including multiple means of socialization], construction [to do and redo things…] and expression [to express ideas and feelings]. All of this is done on the network, today, by apprentices of all ages.

But on the net are ad hoc strategies that guide research, for example. The phygital school can resume the role that the school – as an institution – has already had in the social structure when it becomes the locus where [re] designs and connects learning and achievement strategies.

A socialy embebed school must first transform itself. From repeating to creating; from charging to enabling; from analog to phygital. In a digital network, the school is a space to transform, it is where the dynamics of research, communication, construction and expression are created that, every day, transform people. The school, in the social structure, is a transformer of social context. And of people, as transformers of contexts.

© 2020 – 2021 all rights reserved

This text was written by the professors Silvio Meira and André Neves.

[] is the home of strateegia, a theory of practice for strategic transformation, about which we wrote a long, illustrated sentence, which is available in pdf, at the link []. Our strategic enablement work is done on a digital platform that can be tested for free at the link [].

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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