21st Century Learner

1. Read and respond to definition.
I agree most with Steve Hargadon’s definition of 21st Century learning. He states, “Twenty-first-century learning will ultimately be “learner-driven.” Our old stories of education (factory-model, top-down, compliance-driven) are breaking down or broken, and this is because the Internet is releasing intellectual energy that comes from our latent desires as human beings to have a voice, to create, and to participate. The knowledge-based results look a lot like free-market economies or democratic governments (think: Wikipedia). Loosely governed and highly self-directed, these teaching and learning activities exist beyond the sanction or control of formal educational institutions.”
“Learner-driven” is the key point here. Today’s students are able to Google most anything they want to know; they can publish freely; they can collaborate easily through online tools. Today’s children are tech savvy, social, and innovative. Today’s student is not the same as yesterday’s student. As a member of my local board of education, I see this quite often as I tour our system’s schools. Today’s students are so hungry for knowledge and so hands-on. I rarely see students sitting listening to a teacher lecturing. These students are actively engaged using technology and other methods. They are creating responses to what they are learning. Today is learner-centered, not teacher-centered.

2. My definition:

21st Century Learning is project and experience based. It involves active engagement while learning content and communication, collaboration, and creativity (3 C’s). Today’s learners have the need for stimulation and communication/connection. These natives have had the Internet at their fingers their entire lives and social media is a part of their day to day activities, so they are accustomed to this constant stimulation and communication. 21st Century Learning will focus on specific student interests instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. While core subjects will be learned, career pathways and internships will guide them. 21st Century learners will use technology, media, societal issues, the environment, and the arts to aid them in innovation and creativity. Because these learners have grown up digital, they will also have a need for human interaction and meditation/relaxation; they will need time to unplug so they can recharge and will also have a craving for the arts and nature in juxtaposition to the constant flow of information, thus allowing them to be better prepared to learn as all needs are met. The 21st Century Learner will be the most transformative learners and leaders in the history of mankind.