Wednesday, July 22, 2009

21st Century Learners

The 21st Century brings many challenges and demands. This era of radical and rapid change places demands on learners to increase their capacity for learning. Equally important, the need for Teachers (Learning Managers) to accept these learners and support their learning is discussed among many academics. Marc Prensky, an internationally acclaimed writer of the critical areas of learning and education, discusses some of the issues that arise between teachers and 21st century learners. 'Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet' (Prensky, 2001, p. 1). The term Digital Natives is given to individuals born into this digital age. Prensky explains that there can be difficulties with communicating with Digital Natives if there is little understanding of the language. He expresses the need for people to embrace this language and accept becoming Digital Immigrants. This term is used to acknowledge people who although are not born into the digital age, the are forced into the digital age and can have trouble accepting it, exploring and understanding the language.

Does being born in the early 80's make me a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant? I feel compelled to argue being a digital native. After all I was around when a tape went to CD! However, this isn't the case, there is still so much I don't know. When talking to students during practical visits I often engage in conversations about things I am not familiar with. This is rather important, as Prenksy discussed, for me to accept and understand their language I must learn what they are talking about.

To sum up, why is understanding 21st century learners so important? The importance of understanding an individuals needs and wants is one of the most relevant pieces of information to gather when constructing effective learning experiences. Without effective profiling, learners can often feel bored with concepts and topics chosen and disengage from learning experiences (Smith, Lynch and Knight, 2007, p. 79)

Reference List

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. 9(5), 1-6.

Smith, R., Lynch, D. & Knight, B. (2007). Learning management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson.

1 comment:

  1. Anita,
    You've raised some good points. I myself often find myself confused with the concept of whether or not i'm a 'native' or an 'immigrant' and i suppose that when it comes down to it, technology changes so quickly that it is easy to fall behind and get lost in the middle ground between native and immigrant.
    As you say, the most important aspect of this topic is to be able to understand our students.