“We hope… to provide policymakers and educational practitioners with the needed evidence, tools and vision to transform education and training for 21st century learning and teaching.” – Yves Punie, Spain

Preparing today’s students for the 21st century workplace is a top priority for government, business and society in general in nearly every corner of the world. We know that the new economy will require new skills, and we also know that technology will continue to play a central role. But how, exactly, is technology altering the socio-economic landscape, and what education technology, specifically, should we be focusing on? These are the tough questions that scientist Yves Punie and his team at the IPTS, a research arm of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, are addressing in their research on the links between technology, economy and society. Their findings are a critical driver of EU policy development, and offer helpful insights for education reformers everywhere.

For Punie and his organization, high drop-out rates and high youth unemployment across the EU (more than 18 percent vs. overall unemployment of around 8 percent) means their work is urgent. In order for the EU to experience sustainable growth, workforce skills must be upgraded, and the quality of education and life-long learning opportunities must be raised.  Learning must be more efficient, equitable and innovative, and Punie believes that technology will make that happen.

I was fortunate to speak with Punie last week at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Prague, and he offered up some fascinating insights to the real impact of technology on society. Punie sees three important trends in learning: personalized learning, collaborative learning and informal learning, but he cautions that the innovation taking place in these areas must become systemic. He sees significant potential for MOOCs and open education, but notes that we must learn how to use these tools effectively, including training teachers and addressing quality assurance issues. Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Yves Punie.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

We hope with our studies on the potential, challenges and opportunities of ICT for learning, innovation and creativity, to contribute to evidence-based policy making in Europe and elsewhere, and to provide policymakers and educational practitioners with the needed evidence, tools and vision to transform education and training for 21st century learning and teaching.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
To develop current and future learning opportunities that are more efficient, relevant, inclusive, innovative and meaningful than they ever were in the past.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Listen to your students…

What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

Helping: Integrated assessment and feedback, such as in video games. Hindering: Traditional ways of assessment, separating learning from testing.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

The Internet, because of its unlimited possibilities to connect to other people, to knowledge, skills, experience and information. But we need to invest in digital competence to make sure everyone can benefit from these opportunities.

About Yves Punie

  • Birthplace: Hasselt, Belgium
  • Current residence: Sevilla, Spain
  • Education: PhD in Social Science, Master in Media Studies
  • Website I check every day: standaard.be
  • Person who inspires me most: My wife, my children.
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Hong Kong (work)
  • When was the last time you laughed? Yesterday, my children imitating their parents.
  • Favorite book: The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulish
  • Favorite music: Jacques Brel, Deus


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