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Pubdate:2023.5.16. 16:16 Author:editorSource:Beijing Normal University

Smart Education: The Goal of the Digital Transformation of Education

As the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation deepens, digital technology is increasingly becoming a driving force that fundamentally transforms human social thinking, organizational structures, and operational models. It not only provides significant opportunities for innovating pathways, reshaping forms, and promoting development but also brings new challenges. “What is education and its way forward?” has become a topic of collective consideration for countries worldwide. The United Nations Education Transformation Summit pointed out that global education faces severe challenges and a learning crisis. Therefore, it is urgent to promote educational transformation and fully tap into the power of the digital revolution to ensure that quality education and lifelong learning are provided as a common interest and a human right for all, with particular attention to the most marginalized groups. China has set the goal of promoting educational digitalization and building a society and country where everyone pursues lifelong learning. The digital transformation of education is a systematic planning process carried out at the strategic level, implementing a comprehensive digitalization process across all elements, processes, businesses, and fields within the education system, expanding the coverage of “education for all,” widening the spatial scope of “learning anywhere,” and extending the temporal scale of “learning anytime.” This will create a learning society that meets the demands of lifelong learning for all and is open, flexible, and sustainable. As the desired form of the digital transformation of education, smart education is an educational behavior (system) provided by schools, regions, or countries that offer high learning experiences, high adaptability of content, and high teaching efficiency. It leverages modern science and technology to provide a range of differentiated support and on-demand services to students, teachers, parents, and others. Furthermore, it comprehensively collects and utilizes data on the status of participant groups and educational processes to promote fairness, continuous performance improvement, and the cultivation of educational excellence. The key to promoting the digitalization of education and developing innovative smart education lies in fostering digital thinking within the education system, strengthening digital support capabilities, developing high-quality digital learning content, and constructing a digital learning public service system for the entire population.

Cultivating Talents: the Central Focus of Smart Education

Education’s original intention and mission are to enlighten people’s wisdom and cultivate outstanding individuals. This is also the primary task and fundamental goal of smart education. The development of the times and the advancement of technology drive the changes in talent development goals and talent structures, prompting education to adapt and adjust accordingly. Smart education is a new form of education in the digital age. Smart education embodies “wisdom” emanating from teachers. Intelligent education represents “intelligence” empowered by the environment. The futures of education embodies the “transformation” of education forms. The new teaching models enlighten students’ wisdom, have surpassed the formal learning provided by schools, and moved towards integrating formal and informal learning. The diversity of students and individual differences are given due attention, allowing the realization of a “learner-centered” educational philosophy. A smart learning environment is a place or space for learning that can perceive learning situations, identify learner characteristics, provide appropriate learning resources and convenient interactive tools, automatically record learning processes, and evaluate learning outcomes to promote effective learning. The modern education system nurtures human intelligence, and artificial intelligence and big data will play a crucial role in its evolution. They will provide reform proposals and decision-making foundations for national education, school management, teaching, and talent development systems, ultimately enhancing the quality of talent cultivation.

Technology Empowerment: The Driving Force behind Innovative Development in Smart Education

With the continuous upgrading of the intelligent technology ecosystem, such as generative artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things, and mobile communication, the fields of technology and education are actively permeating each other. Technology empowers education, while education adds value to technology. Education holds a fundamental, pioneering, and comprehensive position and role that empower, store, and enhance national competitiveness. Education is one of the practical fields of technology. The driving force of technological innovation contributes to and supports the high-quality development of education. The continuous upgrading of the intelligent technology ecosystem will serve students’ adaptive growth, support teachers’ professional development, and facilitate the advanced enhancement of smart learning environments. The increasing demand for quality education will be the natural driving force behind technological development. The mutual empowerment of technology and education will promote cross-domain integration, realize the integration and innovation of data, information, business, applications, and services, and enhance educational intelligence. As a result, learners will experience high satisfaction and enjoyment in receiving smart education services.

Data Governance: The Systematic Approach Driving the Orderly Advancement of Educational System Reform

As a new production factor, data is the foundation for digitalization, networking, and intelligence, profoundly transforming production methods, lifestyles, and social governance. “Presenting with data, deciding with data, managing with data, living with data” constitutes the fundamental mindset for the digital transformation of education. The development of smart education not only accumulates high-quality resources but also generates massive data treasures. Educational big data provides objective evidence and fresh perspectives for optimizing educational policies, innovating teaching models, and transforming educational measurement and evaluation methods.

The transformative power of data elements in education relies on necessary external conditions. It requires accelerating the improvement of the education data element market, emphasizing the security and ethical issues in data application, establishing a classification, grading, and authorization system, and focusing on enhancing educational data governance capabilities and user data literacy. This approach drives the balanced allocation of educational resources, precise teaching, educational evaluation reform, and digitized governance by leveraging data. The shift from “extensive management based on experience” to “intensive governance relying on data analysis” calls for a new model of data-driven educational governance. This entails building an education data brain, establishing secure and convenient data exchange channels, enhancing the perception, interconnection, computation, and processing capabilities of education data, promoting the orderly flow of educational data, realizing cross-regional, cross-level, and cross-departmental data sharing, supporting scientific decision-making, driving the reengineering of management business processes, achieving joint operations between internal and external school affairs, streamlining education services into a one-stop process, and improving the efficiency and quality of management services.