I have a colleague at work, let’s call him Yoshi. Yoshi hates the terms 21st century learner and 21st century education. He does not believe in these terms and is open about his thoughts against them. And I can see where he is coming from, the world has changed so much in the last 15 years, children now are learning and living in a world that is just so different from anything we could have imagined last century. For example, the iPhone was not released until 2007. The iPad was not released until 2010. Theoretically, those born in 2001 and those born yesterday are both 21st century learners, but they way that they have learned and will learn will be very different. These are only changes within the last decade, imagine the world of the learning in 50 years time? The change will be outstanding.
I agree with Yoshi to some extent, but I also feel that there was a huge paradigm shift at the turn of the century. The introduction, acceptance and access to the internet really changed the world and along with it, education. Teaching and learning have not been the same since. In the article How Are Students’ Roles Changing in the New Economy of Information? Shawn McCusker argues,
“Where teachers once lectured about important ideas and events, or shared their acquired knowledge with their students, today’s classrooms can see every key primary source document, the actual notes of great scientists, and a limitless amount of literary criticism.”
This paradigm shift should have changed every first world classroom. It’s estimated that 91% of US middle school students say they can text and access the internet from their own cellphone, according to 2011 study by Stephanie Englander of Bridgewater University. The fact that almost every middle school students can access the internet at any moment, where ever they are, whenever they need to is completely different to the classrooms we were taught in. This easy access to information along with the ability to communicate and collaborate through space and time is what I believe sets a 21st century learner apart. So the term 21st century education is still relevant, no matter if we are discussing it now, or in 2099, because it differentiates between a traditional classroom approach and one where information is everywhere. It helps frame our approach to education and learning and helps us to remember that there was a huge shift in our lives, one we could not imagine living without.
Last Thursday night Miss Fish, Mr. Wehrle and myself presented to all middle school parents about digital citizenship, 21st century learners and what is happening in the middle school classroom to address the needs of the students. I was very excited to presenting to the parents as I can really show them how important ICT is in their child’s curriculum. Here is what I presented, it may not make much sense as the presentation is mostly verbal, with a little bit of visual reinforcement. I.e. The slideshow. I modified the original to add a little bit more about what I said, so here it is:
I really appreciate the time that was given to me by all of those that came along, it’s great to see parents so involved in their daughters education. Below are some more sources and further readings.
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Amanda Lenhart (2010). Teens, Cell Phones and Texting: Text Messaging Becomes Centerpiece Communication. Retrieved from www.pewresearch.org/pubs/1572/teens-cell-phones-text-messages
Consumer Reports (2011). Five million Facebook users are 10 or younger. Retrieved from www.news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/05/five-million-facebook-users-are-10-or-younger.html
Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc. (2007). Kids in the know. Retrieved from www.kidsintheknow.ca
Ribble, M.S., Bailey, G.D., & Ross, T.W. (2004). Digital citizenship: addressing appropriate technology behaviour.Learning & Leading With Technology, 32(1).
21st Century Education System Task Force. (2008). Maximizing the impact: the pivotal role of technology in a 21st century education system. Retrieved from www.iste.org
The Parntership for 21st Century Skills. (2009). The mile guide: Milestones fro improving learning & education. Retrieved from www.21stcenturyskills.org
Perschbach, Jane W., Ph.D. (2006). Blogging: An inquiry into the efficacy of a Web-based technology for student reflection in community college computer science programs. DAI-A 67/01, Jul 2006.
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For teens, the future is mobile
Youtube Tip – Detecting lies and staying true
Youtube Tip – Steering clear of cyber tricks
Digital Life: Our Kids’ Connected Culture (advice for parents)
Rules of the Road for Parents in a Digital Age
This week for my COETAIL course I was reading an article about an interesting learning theory coined ‘Connectivism‘. Basically it is theory that works much the same way the internet works, with knowledge not in one central location, but more of a network with information being shared by a collection of ‘nodes’. Nodes could be people, institutions, organizations, etc. Therefore to develop knowledge, you must develop your network. I found it interesting that this is the same basic theory of how the internet works. A collection of knowledge that no one entity owns, rather it is a range of nodes (servers) which store collective knowledge. As a user, one must develop the skills needed to find the information they are looking for. The is the same for learners, they must be able to find what they need as they have no way of knowing everything that is available in every node. This is very much the situation for the 21st century learner. Students can not possibly know it all and with information so readily available, the most important skill is working out how to access the information they need. The Wikipedia page on Connectivism explains it like this:
This network metaphor allows for a notion of “know-where” (the understanding of where to find the knowledge when it is needed) to supplement to the ones of “know-how” and “know-what” that make the cornerstones of many theories of learning.
This is something that we as teachers must come to terms with. We need to be motivating students, helping them develop their network of knowledge and resources and modelling to them how we access the information we desire. This also very much links to my week one COETAIL reflection “Experts At Your Fingertips” where I mentioned that we have a range of knowledge and expertise available to use, we just need to be able to find it and access it.*
The Connectivism theory should also make us consider the idea of quizzes and tests that assess knowledge rather than higher order thinking skills like application and analysis of knowledge. For example, instead of a test with simple recall questions, educators need to start designing test that have students access the information and synthesize it or use it to create their own products. In other words, assess how well a students can learn as opposed to how much students know. Not unlike Google’s amazing website www.agoogleaday.com which tests very specific skills and lateral thinking as opposed to recall of information. On this site the user must work out how they will find the information to answer a question and follow a range of steps and searches to find their answer. For me, I believe this is 21st century learning, not just assessing knowledge but assessing how we access knowledge.
*I find it rather ironic that I’ve made the connection between my week 1 work and my week 2 work! Was this meant to happen?