How Technology has Influenced the 21st Century Learner

Education is embarking on major changes to students’ learning and knowledge acquisition. Technology has influenced and changed the way students solve problems, research information and learn.  21st century learning is becoming a disruption to traditional education as we know it. No longer are memorization, traditional testing and quizzing a true measure of our students’ knowledge?  Was it ever?

Today, facts and information are ubiquitous. Information is readily current and accessible through the internet. Knowledge sources continue to flood the internet with their expertise, their research studies and finding – It has become our main “go to” source for knowledge and information. With information so easily attainable, educational institutions and their faculty need to begin changing the way they teach students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. These components haven’t changed. Critical thinking and problem solving, for example, have been components of human progress throughout history, however, the way in which we reach these goals today will be different.

So, what’s different, today we test students on their comprehension of facts and knowledge. In the 21st century, we will also need to test students on their competencies and skills as well. Does that mean we no longer need to teach the facts? Of course not. Both are equally important to critical thinking and problem solving. It will be how teachers balance these two.

So, what does the 21st century teacher look like? Advocates of 21st century skills favor student-centered methods—for example, problem-based learning and project-based learning—that allow students to collaborate, work on authentic problems, and engage with the community. These approaches are widely acclaimed and can be found in any pedagogical methods textbook.

According to Andrew J. Rotherham and Daniel Willingham, “to work, the 21st century skills movement will require keen attention to curriculum, teacher quality, and assessment.”

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