Learning has changed a lot over the last decade. Learning is something that constantly changes and evolves and how do we adapt to it is the key to learning and developing skills in the learners.
How learners interact and how to embed the contemporary skills of creativity, quality, problem solving and persistence in learning is a challenge. These considerations in conjunction to needs and barriers to learning are even more important with learners in the 21ST century.
The world has become a global backyard where we do not only learn from each other but also collaborate and communicate using latest technology for work, socialization and cultural understanding. All of the communication tools we have today are connected like mobile technology, e-tools, social networking, twitter, webinars, YouTube, blogs, podcast, face book and what not. But in order to use this technology and any new additions that would for sure keep coming in we need to prepare our learners with the skill sets to fully utilize these tools for their benefit of learning, connecting and collaborating.
We are connected in every aspect of life and all these things like distance, language, geography, etc which were barriers years ago are no longer hindrance in our way to learning. We can understand the effectiveness and efficiency of technology integration all we need are educators and policy makers to facilitate this type of learning.
In the book the Global Achievement Gap by Wagner (2008), the author has given skill necessary for survival in today’s world. He talks about things such as critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurial-ism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information and curiosity and imagination. There is an increasing demand from employees in the organizations of independent thoughts and high level of problem solving ability at all employee levels. Companies are looking for entirely new set of skills among the employees using which they can communicate and collaborate together.
The generation ‘Z’ which is born after 1994 and before 2004 are now usually young adults or in their teens, and generally they are completely different from generations that were born before them. This particular generation is still in the early years of learning and has much to learn yet. They are living in a virtual world where they can interact or access literally anyone from any where on a click of a thumb. They are very comfortable in their own comfort zones and are less likely to step out to travel. This generation generally lacks in the area of expression, verbal communication, confidence and interpersonal skills as a result of being so much immersed in the virtual world. They don’t cope well with generation ‘Y’ which is born in era 1975-1995. They are generally opposite and do not cope up well. Generation Z makes up over 18% of world population and internet being their birth right they have no concept of commuting to workplace or other outdoor locations to conduct their daily life activities, they can live in one place and never leave it yet accomplish everything.
They see technology as a tool of getting their work done. Phone is not just phone to them; they cannot actually live without it. They are very individualistic, have their own persona, do not agree to social norms, their society is the ‘internet’ where they can speak their minds out and express their opinions openly, they are poor listeners, they consider intelligence and knowledge above education as a mean of survival and being born in the technological world they adapt to technology like no other generation.
Self-Directed Learning It is the ability of oneself to take responsibility to learn that whatever it is. The skills needed for self-directed learning are:
Initiative These are goal-directed, action oriented people who are persistent in overcoming obstacles to learning and have an active approach to problem solving. Self-startedness is very important to self-directed learning they are people who are self motivated and no one needs to tell them to go and get started.
Resourcefulness They are able to prioritize and engage in learning activities over non-learning activities. They can foresee the benefits of present learning and solve problems that interfere with learning activities.
Persistence They are persistent in learning using technology; they have volitional control, self regulation and goal directness where they are able to constantly work with persistence towards the accomplishment of their goals.
Global Leaders The key components needed in a leader who can facilitate and develop such learning environment online are: they must have curiosity and concern with context, they must have acceptance of curiosity and its contradictions, they should focus on continual improvement, they should seek opportunity in surprises and uncertainties and must have an extended time perspective of learning and a complete system orientation.
We have information overload and we must prioritize the information we get in terms of its usefulness to us. We cannot get away from it; therefore we must evaluate and prioritize the information for its best possible use.