We are facing a complex process of anthropological (Dominici, 2005), digital and cybercultural transformation. The scenario is a change of paradigms, models, codes, new values and criteria of judgement that the extraordinary scientific discoveries and technological innovations, not only broaden horizons and scenarios still unimaginable, but further evidence the urgent need to rethink, in a radical way, education, training and the teaching model. As a consequence of the inadequate preparation of schools and universities to deal with the hypercomplexity, indeterminacy and ambivalence of the current metamorphosis, in the face of the global expansion of all political, social and cultural processes.
The new “digital speed”, in the complex interaction between the human factor and the system of social relations, preserves the original ambivalence of any “factor” of change and any social and cultural process; an ambivalence which, besides being an extraordinary opportunity, also highlights our limits and our inefficiencies – on a personal, organisational and social level – but, above all, leaves us little time for reflection and critical analysis. Given this substantial inadequate preparation and the irreversibility of these processes and dynamics, we find that there is a real risk of focusing exclusively on the technological dimension, underestimating the human factor in terms of the system of relationships, the educational and cultural context, the lifeworlds and the new asymmetries.
In this sense, education and critical training for complexity and responsibility constitute the complex “tools” of social construction, first, of the person and, second, of the citi- zen; tools that define the very structural conditions, as well as the rules of involvement, the “new” forms of (global) citizenship and inclusion, all with the idea of finding their space in the knowledge society. These are fundamental requirements for a preparatory education – not only digital – involving multiple levels of analysis and intervention. But, we should not be content with just making the different variables present in the game known.
Digital education should enable people (and citizens) to face and manage the dynamics and processes that arise not only from technological innovation, but also from many other factors (economic, social, political, cultural) that distinguish the new ecosystem (Dominici, 2014); so that young people – and adults – can not only defend themselves against the “dark side” of digital technology, or “know how to use” the tools that allow access to new environments, but also learn to exploit the advantages and enormous potential both for the exchange of information and knowledge and for the construction, consolidation and intensification of relational networks (communication vs. connection; inclusivity vs. exclusivity). In the light of these brief considerations – which should be re- solved and argued – digital education – and with it education itself – must be rethought, also on the basis of a redefinition of the fundamental objectives.
In the Interconnected/Hyperconnected Society (Dominici, 2014), we live in “new ecosystems” and environments in the Age of Access (Rifkin, 2000) in which new in- equalities (ever more marked and evident) and new asymmetries directly affect access to intangible resources, the ability to develop and share knowledge and organise it systematically and functionally. At this stage of development, digital education and training is configured as the “basis” on which to build, socially and culturally, the new citizenship under the rules of coexistence, rethinking the relational and communicative space.
Consequently, the new digital education and training, not only as a “tool” to technically prepare our young people (and with them, teachers, executives, people, etc.) must emphasise the current accelerated change as a culture of complexity and how education in responsibility, both based on the epistemology of uncertainty (Morin, 2004). At the same time, it is also to be reconsidered as a set of complex instruments that give effect to the rights and duties fundamental to the survival of modern democracies.
In this context, it is important to note that the technological and/or digital alone does not determine citizenship and inclusion in a global society. It should be borne in mind that the future belongs to those who can bridge the gap between the human and the technological; to those who manage to redefine and rethink the complex relationship between the natural and the artificial; to those who will combine knowledge and skills; to those who will merge “the two cultures”: the humanities and the sciences; and, in terms of education and training, to those who will define the new professional profiles and competences.
In the Hyperconnected and Hypercomplex Society (Dominici 2005, 2014), communication has attained a definite strategic importance for organisations, social systems and states. It is a complex and articulated social process, based on the exchange of knowledge, which can create new social conditions, but which also carries the risk of new social asymmetries that, together with the proliferation of disruptive technologies, add new communicational components that, in some environments, run the risk of widening the digital divide (Flores, 2017). All this implies a problem of transparency and ethical and responsible communication, as well as the need for a “new culture in communication” (Dominici, 1998) under new interactive, relational and mass data paradigms (Flores, 2017) based on the exchange of knowledge, in the complexity of social relations, understood as power relations.
In the evolution of hyper-complex and interconnected societies, it is necessary to take into account some premises that have been repeatedly made in recent years:
a) The “new” digital speed, in the complex interaction between the human factor and the system of social relations, preserves the original ambivalence of any “factor” of change and of any social and cultural process which, besides being an extraordinary opportunity, also highlights our limits and our inefficiencies – both at the personal, organisational and social levels –. However, it leaves us little time for reflection and critical analysis of what is happening and, more generally, envelops us in a (hyper)complexity that exposes our insufficient time for reflection and critical analysis of what is happening, organisational and social –. Above all, it leaves us little time for reflection and critical analysis of what is happening and, more generally, it envelops us in a (hyper)complexity that exposes the radical inadequacy of paradigms, of the interpretative models of traditional cultures and, even more, of modern instruments of control and management (Dominici, 2005).
b) The technological revolution has defined a new relationship between the individual and the norm, between theory and practice, providing him, in a way, with the illusion of absolute ruler and master of his decisions, with the risk of not taking due ac- count of interactions, social interdependence and community membership. Therefore, it becomes urgent to ask the question that Hans Jonas (1979) embodies the concept of responsible self-determination which together with that of the pedagogy of responsibility, constitutes a concept that will probably be able to close the great gap between the ideas of autonomy and interdependence (Dominici, 2017).
c) Today, technology has become part of the synthesis of new values and new criteria of judgement (Dominici, 2005), which shows the importance and strategic function of an evolution that is cultural and that will join biological evolution, conditioning it profoundly and determining dynamic and feedback processes. Examples of this are the technological advances related to artificial intelligence, robotics, informatics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc. In other words, in the general framework of a redefinition of the nature/culture dichotomy, we cannot ignore how the well-known Darwinian mechanisms of selection and mutation are increasingly contaminated by those social and cultural factors that characterise the statics and dynamics of social systems (Parsons, 1951; Luhmann, 1984, 1990; Coleman, 1990; Putnam, 2000). It is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to try to keep the two evolutionary paths separate at the same time.
Thus, there is an increasingly urgent need for a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to complexity (Morin, 2015) for the analysis and study of increasingly complex dynamics that, within conversation plans, the intervening variables condition each other, generating a tension in the traditional linear theoretical-interpretative models. Obviously, this is not about being “for” or “against”, a fact that has to go beyond the sterile (always present and punctual) polarisation of the debate that has a radically different logic to that of production and the exchange of knowledge that it generates. So we must be aware that we are facing an anthropological transformation (Dominici, 2014) which, by bringing into discussion the same basic assumptions of thought, theory and practice, highlights once again the urgent need for a paradigm shift – which has been resonating since the 1990s – and the redefinition of the conceptual category itself.
d) The “old” boundaries between science education training and humanistic training, nowadays omitted, as a result of the extraordinary scientific advances and the continuous accelerations induced by technological innovation, make the urgency of 21 an education/training of complexity and critical thinking (logic) even more inescapable. However, resistance to a radical change of perspective (models, practices and tools) is very strong, and comes mainly from the “places” where knowledge is produced and developed and is related to reasons of various nature, such as the dominant logic, feu- dal social model, cultural issues, the primacy of politics in all dimensions, organisational cultures, climates of opinion, etc. This is because it occurs in any field of individual and collective practices, since innovating means questioning consolidated knowledge and practices, individual and collective imaginaries, breaking the balance, shattering the chains of tradition, leaving the certain for the uncertain with risks and opportunities, perceived as notably superior. In other words, systems and the communication and relational space that characterises them become more vulnerable. This is a strategic and crucial issue for the whole process of social and cultural construction of the person and the citizen and, therefore, of the public space, which plays a fundamental role, considering the constant and rapid change of context, local, global and of reference (Dominici, 2005).
e) Hypercomplexity is not – and never was – an option. It is a “fact”. Unfortunately, there is still little awareness of being in the face of hypercomplexity, which extends to such an extent that it makes any attempt to provide/formulate schemes of reduction and complexity of analysis extremely difficult and complicated. It is not by chance that we resort to “old” models and interpretative schemes, perhaps adapted with a bit of neologism to present them as original and innovative. It is a question of a further increased complexity of the increasingly strategic importance that communication and technological innovation have assumed, not only in educational and socialisation processes, but also in the representation and perception of dynamics and systematic evolutionary processes, complex dimensions and issues, which of course also affect hegemonic interpretations and narratives.
The real problem is that – as always – we continue to be educated and trained to re- cognise this hyper-complexity and, in any case, not with our heads. An inadequacy becomes even more evident in the society of interdependence and global interconnectedness with a “new ecosystem” (Dominici, 2014) in which everything is linked and connected, within processes and non-linear dynamics, with its variables and causes to be considered.
Digital education, in relation to new media, is still seen, in many cases, as a matter of competence only, which is declining especially in terms of “know-how” and “know how to use”, a concept that, increasingly, is spreading to show at the level of public discourse, that its vision is always the most original despite practical evidence and experiences showing that it is not only a question of expertise (of “know-how” and “know how to use”) that provides a quick answer. In addition to this dimension, digital education is seen and presented as an instrument of guardianship/protection of the new generations from the risks and threats posed by the digital revolution (Lévy, 1997; Grossman, 1995; Ferrarotti, 1997; Breton, 2001; Lupton, 2001; Sunstein, 2001; Rheingold, 2001; Suns- tein, 2001; Rheingold, 2002; Boccia Artieri, 2012; Castells, 1996; Tapscott, 2009; Kelly, 2010; Morozov, 2011; Lovink, 2011; Spence, 2011; Byung-Chul, 2013; Rainie-Wellman, 2012; Zuckerman, 2013; Seife, 2014) and, specifically, by the advent of the “new” con- nection technologies. But again, this is a limited and limiting vision: the problem cannot and should not be addressed only in terms of protection and guardianship. Otherwise, there is once again the risk of an exclusively repressive, reductionist approach, built on fear and lack of knowledge, and crushed by the means and instruments, including social networks. Whereas, the focus must be on the people, the system of relationships, the educational and cultural context must be systemic, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary (Wiener, 1950; Lakatos and Musgrave, 1970; Ceruti, 1995; Gallino, 1992; Braidotti, 2013; Morin, 1977; Capra, 1975; Kumar, 1995; Emery, 2001; Marchesini, 2002; Levy, 1994; Barabasi, 2002; AA.VV. 1985, Diamond, 1997, 2005; Taleb, 2012; Longo, 2014; Dominici, 2005, 2016). The fundamental objectives of digital education, in technological terms, are different and refer to multiple levels of analysis, with a few points standing out:
1) digital education must raise awareness of the multiple variables at play;2) digital edu- cation must define and create the conditions for a truly critical and systemic approach to the transformation underway. However, in this respect, there is a lot of work to be done as certain concepts are still used, substantially, as slogans; 3) digital education must enable people (and citizens) to deal with and manage the dynamics and processes that come not only from technological innovation, but from many other factors (economic, social, political, cultural) that distinguish the new ecosystem in such a way that young people (and adults) are in a position not only to defend themselves from the “dark side” of the digital, to “know how to use” the tools and inhabit new environments, but also to be able to learn and take advantage of the enormous potential, both for the exchange of information and knowledge and for the construction/consolidation/intensification of relational networks of communication vs. connection.
In the light of these brief considerations – which should be resolved and argued – digital education should be profoundly rethought and other, somewhat ambitious, funda- mental objectives should be set. In other words, digital education should be rethought on the basis of a redefinition of the fundamental objectives. This implies a disruptive process towards digital education, not only as a tool for “know-how”, but also for the development and empowerment of critical thinking.
In this context, the correlation between education and (inclusive) citizenship becomes more evident and consequential since technology and digital alone do not determine the empowerment of citizens. Let us consider technology and digital culture as “technical” issues that demand technical preparation and specific “skills” related (exclusively) to the “nature” of (new and not so new) information technologies and the connection of new communicative ecosystems/environments.
Digital education is not enough. Educate in soft skills: responsibility, complexity, empathy
From the previous sections, it is clear that it is necessary to educate to complexity in order to know how to recognise and manage it in a decisive, strategic way, both for organisations and for democracies which, in current times, are being marked by a pro- found crisis. However, in the Hyper-Complex Society (Dominici, 2005), it is increasingly vital to know how to communicate this (hyper)complexity and this must obviously include, first and foremost, the question of knowledge and skills, as well as the urgent need to overcome, once and for all, the “false dichotomies” (Dominici 1998 ff.). The current situation makes us reflect that it is no longer enough to “know” or “know how to do”, we must necessarily address how to educate and train, above all, the new dichotomies of “knowing how to communicate knowledge” and “knowing how to communicate know how to do”.
These are the knowledge and skills currently in demand in all professions with high congnitive content, which increasingly characterise the “knowledge society” and the sha- ring economy (Benkler, 2006; Hess-Ostrom, 2007; Himanen, 2001; Habermas, 2013), derived from the innovative process that is occurring all the time in any field of human knowledge. This is why companies are increasingly looking for people who can be generalists, not specialists, able to respond effectively to the challenges of complexity and comply with the new rules of the game, speed, technology, innovation and information (Ortiz, 2015; Levy, 1994).
This means that if we do not act deeply and systematically on this dimension, we will find ourselves in a problematic condition of perpetual cultural backwardness with respect to precisely the complexity, multidimensionality and ambivalence of the processes of innovation and change. For these reasons, we insist on rethinking and reflecting on the complex issue of (hyper)complexity and on the centrality of education and educational processes.
It is worth noting that nowadays everything is complexity, but with that we fall into the risk of thinking precisely about the trivialisation of public discourse which, following the usual logic of polarisation, structures the agendas of public opinion, leaving very little room for the deepening and critical evaluation of positions in the field. But, in addressing the approach and implications of complexity, we must be aware of its “nature” (Morin, 2015), also in the sense of how we can understand (hyper)complexity, since – as mentioned – it is itself complex and ambivalent. Concretely, as seen in Table 1.1., a (hyper) complexity is cognitive, subjective, social and ethical.
Awareness of the complex “nature” of (hyper)complexity must lead us to another fundamental question: the false and misleading dichotomies between complexity and specialisation, between interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary and specialisations, which, for many analysts, are by no means antithetical, nor do they constitute/represent dichotomies. One has to start from the need to combine theory and research/ practice, knowledge and skills (not only “technical”), human and technological, not falling into the trap, not only argumentative, of the uselessness of knowledge. In this respect, much could be said on the question of the usefulness/uselessness of knowledge since it is the “concept” on which we are building our schools and our universities.
On these false dichotomies (Dominici, 1998, 2005), on the contrary, careers, areas of power, spheres of influence, impregnable “ivory towers” have been built and so many books have been sold; and all this, to the detriment, unfortunately, of our young people and, in general, of the unfinished evolution of our culture. At various times and in difficult times, we have underlined the risk of technological innovation without culture and of a de- cline which, like that of all “advanced” countries, starts in schools and universities, deprived or at least weakened of their vital functions for a democracy which fulfils its citizens, on concrete and effective and not simulated participation. However, we, as a Community (not only “scientific” and of knowledge) are paying an overwhelming fee for the persistence and rootedness of these “false dichotomies” (Dominici, 2014) that innervate and structure our school and our university, with their educational models and their didactic-formative paths.
The “world” and “reality” are complex, in fact, hyper-complex, but beyond the public dis- course adopted from time to time, on fashionable topics and issues (trends) we continue to keep the “two cultures” separate as well as to educate by adopting linear interpretative models, as long as there are no problems of logic and functional illiteracy (unfortunately, very common), falling punctually into deterministic and reductionist interpretations. We must, therefore, be aware – not only in words – that the future, the “true” innovation (social and cultural) belongs to those who are able to repair the gap between the human and the technological, to those who will be able to redefine and rethink the complex relationship between the natural and the artificial; to those who will be able to combine (not separate) knowledge and skills, to those who will be able to better combine the fusion of the two cultures (humanistic and scientific) from the perspective of education and training, which helps to consolidate the definition of new professional profiles and competences.
And, in doing so, particular attention should be paid to the continuous temptations of shortcuts, simple solutions, downhill paths which, to a certain extent, are reassuring as they often hide only economic and power interests, ideological visions which are made clearly visible, as well as acceptable and shareable, through an incessant activity of pro- motion and marketing of events […] Experts argue that “Innovating means destabilising”, but, it is necessary, firstly, to educate and critically empower people to think and have their reasoning and, secondly, to see “objects” as “systems” (and not the other way around).
We must therefore educate and train, first of all, people, and then citizens, capable of knowing how to reflect, think, argue, organise, in a logical, critical, correct and effective way; capable of imagining or better still, recognising/knowing how
to recognise the complexity and levels of connection and relationships between people, between systems, between people and systems with approaches, methods, knowledge and skills that must be constant; in short, an element of continuity based on educational and training programmes in schools and universities.
As long as we do not become aware of and are not able to clarify this “big mistake” at the basis of the (denied) dialogue between knowledge and skills and at the basis of public life and democracy, we will not be able to correct the current navigation route that leads us, above all, to adapt to change and not to know how to manage and modify it. Beyond the many paradoxes of changing practices, the great “mistake” of the hyper-technological and hyper-complex civilisation is to continue to think of edu- cation and educational processes (also applied to training) as “questions of an exclusively technical nature”, only a problem of “skills” and “know-how”, a problem – or a series of problems – that will be tackled by focusing on speed and simulation.
And, the dramatic separation between humanistic and scientific training will continue to be reproduced, uncorrected, so that we are destined to increasingly lose sight of the complex, the global, the other in us. In other words, we have to rethink and revise the concept of “digital education”, which, in fact, the way we imagined and defined it, is increasingly represented as an “instrument” of complex definition of the structural conditions of “unfeigned” participation and of a full, effective, participatory and “non-hetero-direct” citizenship (Marshall, 1950).
From this perspective, if we do not solve education and, even more, the idea of edu- cation, by modifying in this sense the decisions and strategies concerning both teaching and training (continuous and systematic, with a flexible and modular part) of all those involved in the different types of decisions, we will not get very far and we will continue to try to mount change by resorting to the same old short-term logics.
Digital education must be imagined and reinvented, always and in any case, in the direction of the social and cultural construction of the person and the citizen. It is a tangible reality that one of the roles of the university is to provide the quality training demanded by society and the business world.
And in this training process, digital technologies play a preponderant role in the educational stage of students. However, we must not forget that another of the university’s roles is (and it is good to constantly remind ourselves of this) the teaching of science. In fact, it is its essence since, since its beginnings, the university has been conceived as the centre of science indoctrination (Flores, 2016).
Bridging the gap between the human and the technological. Towards inclusive education and training for innovation In addressing these questions, we must be careful not to fall into the temptation of simple solutions, deterministic explanations and easy reductionism. We urgently need explanations and analyses based on data and research, but we are also in dire need of a critical complexity-theoretic approach, which puts us not only in a position to step out of the quicksand of monocausal determinism but also, at a less demanding level, of a new uncriticism that leads us to convince ourselves that, in these years, everything was great just because it was “new”.
Once again, school and university, instruction, education and (further) training must (should) be put, fundamentally, at the centre of every planning and innovative process (systematic vision); and to face the challenges of citizenship and “inclusive innovation” (which are the challenges of hypercomplexity and also of responsibility), it is necessary to take into account “….not only in words and in public discourse – that the future of “true” (social and cultural) innovation will be that which is capable of repairing the gap between the human and the technological, of those who will be able to redefine and rethink the complex relationship between natural and artificial; of those who will know how to combine knowledge and skills; of those who will be able to combine, better, merging the two cultures (humanistic and scientific) both in terms of education and training as well as in the definition of professional profiles and competences” (Dominici, 2005).
In this sense, there is an urgent need to overcome what, in very difficult times, have been called the “false dichotomies”. That is, theory vs. research/practice; scientific vs. humanistic training; knowledge vs. skills; hard skills vs. soft skills.
For some time now, we have no longer known how to look at/observe the whole, the system, the globality, the system of relationships and/or interactions that characterise it. In other words, we find it difficult to recognise links, correlations, causal links and chance: precisely because we have been educated and trained (in the best of hypo- theses) to describe, to record regularly, the “how” and not the “why”; we have been educated and trained to look for, and to settle for, simple and/or pre-coded answers, to look for simple solutions to (hyper) complex problems. And this perspective, besides being short-sighted and misleading, is all the more paradoxical because we live in the age of global interconnectedness, where all processes are increasingly interdependent and connected. We have to deal with the dimensions and levels of interaction and feedback at all levels: subjective, relational, systemic, organisational, social, highlighting the urgent need to rethink paradigms in a systemic perspective on (hyper)
To develop pedagogical and neuro-educational proposals for a liquid edu- cation in virtual spaces
To arrive at the transformation of the hyper-complexity and interconnectivity of to- day’s society, it has taken more than two millennia, since the ancient Greek sages invented the notion of “paidea”, for the idea of “lifelong education”, to change from an oxymoron (a term of contradictory meaning) to a pleonasm (something akin to “I have seen it with my own eyes” or “metallic iron”). This remarkable trans- formation has occurred in recent times, in the last decades, and is the result of radically accelerated changes, currently augmented by the pandemic of the Co- vid-19 coronavirus, in the social environment of the two main actors in education: “those who teach” (teachers) and “those who learn” (students) (Bauman, 2013).
Education in a liquid society (Bauman, 2000) arises from innovations in education and the evolution of technologies that have generated a disruption in the last ten years, so that society can say that it is in a growing process of globalisation, where educating and learning should no longer mean any problem as it has become an intrinsic issue to hu- man development and is a characteristic (Dominici, 2017) of the “hypercomplex society”.
Various analysts in the field of educational innovation maintain that in today’s world, the professional or academic success of any student will depend on their ability to ac- quire competences, skills (hard and soft), collaborative teamwork, emotional intelligence, and the ability to manage complex problems, all within an increasingly fast-paced, constantly changing and progressively more demanding environment, that is, in archetype of the development of “education in a liquid world” (Bauman, 2013) where people and citizens are an integral part of a “hyper-complex society” (Dominici, 2017) and where Information and Communication Technologies are being accommodated in the new pedagogical thinking that the current situation demands, motivated by the pandemic situation and the digital transformation (Flores, 2019). Globally, several studies have shown that the increasing use of technology means that the level of involvement of students and their academic performance increases significantly when technology is used frequently in their learning process. But it is not only the use of tools or devices that is growing, but also the increasingly frequent use of active methodologies in the classroom, innovations that have become a fundamental factor in the acquisition of knowledge.
The reason for this is largely due to the fact that students – together with teachers – are directly involved in their training and learning, gaining greater protagonism and decision-making capacity in the choice and the way in which curricular content is taught. In the hypercomplex society, education is – or should be – given through cognitivism and constructivism, forming scenarios where cognition, as an act or process of knowing, acquires – or should acquire – great relevance since its empowerment shapes people’s (students’) reasoning and critical thinking. Moreover, cognition, as a process of human development, is present in discussions in psychology and engineering as well as in linguistics and education. Some experts argue that cognition has become an interdisciplinary knowledge that explains processes such as perception, memory, attention, among others (Ortiz, 2015). On the other hand, constructivism – with emphasis on cybernetics – brings us closer to dimensions that until now tended to be neutralised or trivialised both from theoretical-educational proposals and from the exercise of pedagogical action.
One of the dimensions that, until now, had been neutralised is the one referring to complexity; another of the neutralised dimensions in teaching are the second order realities that are not accessible to observers (teachers, administrators, students, etc.) if not through an inquisitive, self-reflective and dialogical effort (Piscitelli, 2010).
In this context, researchers agree that in the new pedagogies it is necessary to emphasise the subject’s (students’) prior knowledge, that is to say, to have levels of knowledge acquired in stages prior to the generation of a discussion or debate, as this generates synergies between constructivism and cognitivism. For Miras (2000), “prior knowledge” is a principle of constructivist pedagogy which, based on cognitive theories, states that the subject is capable of constructing his or her own knowledge, that is to say, when the student enters the school or faculty, he/she already has a series of knowledge, which allows him/her to start a new learning process and defines the teaching process that the teacher will develop, so this process does not start from scratch.
In this scenario, and as we pointed out earlier about the digital education model where the concept of education takes precedence over the digital, it is important to assume that, if global education points towards a blended or hybrid education model, we must first understand what hybrid education or hybrid learning consists of. For experts in educational innovation, hybrid learning is defined as a disruptive, competency-based, learner centred pedagogical approach that includes a combination of face-to-face training and computer-mediated classroom interaction. In other words, the hybrid education model incorporates learners, both face-to-face and remotely. The construction of knowledge under virtual modality (internet) has the same objective as when learning is acquired in a classical way (attending university, learning from physical books in libraries, etc.). In the first place, it will be more dynamic and will become satisfactory as long as it is used correctly and in a collaborative way between teachers and students and only between students.
Is the world ready for virtual education and training in the wake of the pandemic? Are schools and universities prepared for a globalisation of home-based e-learning as a me- asure to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic as proposed by UNESCO and other international organisations? In developing countries, the questions increase: is there sufficient technology to deliver virtual education in an optimal way? Moreover, if the pandemic situation leads to greater confinement and virtual or blended learning is accentuated, what mechanisms and strategies should be employed in accessing knowledge so that learners can enhance their cognition and develop critical thinking through online learning systems?
Although some universities in the world have been implementing the hybrid blended or blended learning model for some years now, the pandemic of the Covid-19 corona- virus has managed to boost this model. Both the face-to-face and virtual models, and now the hybrid model, must foresee, design, adopt and implement new methodologies and different pedagogies to achieve the common goal of teaching based on true
innovation that leads to the acquisition of knowledge for a “hyper-complex society”.
In conclusion, reiterating a concept that we have been researching for years, we consider it essential to get the definition of digital education right, which must be revised, expanded and extended to other approaches, other knowledge and skills. Likewise, between the two terms, we highlight that of education in the centre and not at the periphery, so that we do not only have to educate and train “individuals” who are aware of digital complexity and technically prepared.
Scientific innovation is welcome, considering that “Innovation means destabilisation”, but it is necessary, beforehand, to educate and critically train people to think for them- selves, to ask and ask questions, not to be satisfied with the usual answers/solutions and to see “objects” as “systems” (and not the other way around).
In this educational context, the structural inadequacy and blatant short-sightedness that characterise school and university (which are thought of “together” as well as facing the old question of the training of trainers), which are the only “true” institutions/”places” responsible for defining and building the conditions of social emancipation, must be radically corrected.
It is necessary to promote not only a critical education in complexity and responsibility (from the first years of school) but also, and above all, to foster knowledge of science and technology “in the facts” and not only in institutional documents.
This will have an impact on the promotion of critical thinking, complexity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, especially at the level of scientific research. However, we must assume that doing all this would have significant consequences for the educational and training programmes themselves, and obviously for the (continuing) training of future trainers, including future journalists and communicators.
As we prepare and get used to the idea that the results of these vital, strategic plans “will be seen” in many years, if at all, in the long term, previously studied from a dichotomous perspective, but now, together, they form the basis of true cognition of any discipline of knowledge. Hence, Science and Technology Studies (STS) must be the integrative innovative corpus in the educational training plans at university level. Finally, we should think and progressively assume that the development of critical thin- king must increasingly take place in the new virtual learning environments.