Collaborative problem-solving: How are education systems innovating?
Education has always been close to Nesta’s heart - indeed, it was one of our three main strands of work back when we were founded in 1998. In recent years, we’ve focused our efforts on two areas related to technology and education: firstly, we’ve been trying to improve the use of evidence in the edtech sector (changing how we teach), and secondly we’ve been supporting programmes to nurture a generation of young digital makers (developing what we teach).
We’re still completely committed to supporting technology, to change how we teach, to help prepare our young people for the digital world and to instil knowledge and creativity. At the same time, as we develop future work we’re keen to identify, stimulate and support innovation in something innately human: working together to find solutions and get things done, or - as we and many others call it - “collaborative problem-solving”.
Collaborative problem-solving is one of the twenty-first century skills which we must develop in young people so that they are ready to thrive in all areas of life, including the workplace. There is a significant body of literature on the importance of these skills, and much research has been done into how they can be developed inside and outside school (whether aided by technology or not), integrated into curricula, and measured. Many school systems are placing greater emphasis on these skills, and the OECD’s international PISA rankings (which, rightly or wrongly, hold massive sway over politicians) included a collaborative problem-solving assessment for the first time last year.
We would be failing our young people if we did not support them to develop abilities like collaborative problem-solving, and so we will be developing work in this area over the coming months to build the evidence base, encourage and support innovation and bring together interested parties across the sector.
To inform our work, we have published an Invitation to Tender (ITT) for research into what’s already going on around the world to develop collaborative problem-solving skills in young people. This will inform Nesta’s future work in education and is an exciting opportunity for researchers to help shape what we do, and ultimately help our young people develop essential life skills. If you’re interested in applying to carry out this research, please take a look at the ITT here, get in touch if you have any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org), and send us your applications. We hope to hear from many of you soon.