The Four F’s

Education Tokyo Life - February 10th, 2012

Can Japan embrace digital skills education?

Japan’s experiment with “yutori kyoiku”, a more intuitive approach to learning less concentrated on rote learning, has collapsed and we are back to the 3R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic).

Regardless of direction change in Japan, the challenge for learning continues and it seems rote memorization of data will be the “buggy whip” for this century.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way.

The “Four F’s” of digital education will revolve around the finding, filtering, finessing and figuring of information.

The “Finding” of information is now predominately completed through on-line sites—usually identified through search engines.

So far so good but actually a bit tricky in practice because your search may produce 13,000 pages of data on this subject! The problem is “Finding” now means “finding everything”.

The random selection of information sought by algorithms sometimes feels not that different to when I wandered around the stacks of the Griffith University library, happening upon a tome of great erudition and application, all by chance.

The next big challenge is that we have to make some decisions about the value of what we have found; this is the “Filtering” process. Tricky as well, because we have to make some judgments about subjects, of which, in reality we may know very little.

This is where the “Finessing” comes in, we have to use our intuition to separate out the relevant from the “discard now”.

We have to plunge into what the programmer of the algorithm has decided we should read first and then build some knowledge base, upon which to make some decisions.

Who is currently teaching this part of the process? Finally having worked out what is worth keeping, well great—but how do we use it?

This is the “Figuring” process, of application of information. That is, the linking of data pieces to each other to reinforce an existing point, or to draw a new inference about a particular subject.

This stage is no different to what we had before the internet made access to everything, everywhere, possible immediately.

Twitter and Google Search remind me of drinking from the fire hose; there is such an overwhelming amount of information being highlighted.

Facebook to some degree has a filter built in that delivers the experiences of people you know and trust. Specialist blogs may perform the same role, if the writer is an authority on that subject.

Back to the future—is “learning” keeping up with the “digital fire hose”? Rote memorization is a long way off the pace.

What is available to deliver the “Four F’s” Digital Skills that we all increasingly need to be productive?

Scanning the horizon, I don’t see anything happening here in Japan to address the future.

By the way, that is where we are all going to be spending our time!

This sounds more like an opportunity than an apocalypse for educators who get it.

Dr. Greg Story is President of Dale Carnegie Training , which has gone from the inkwell to the iPad over it’s last 100 years.