For the digital integrator, technology has blurred the lines of work and social, of study and entertainment, of private and public. Simplicity and flexibility amidst the complexity of busy lives are some of the key benefits that technology brings the digital integrator. They live in an open book environment- just a few clicks away from any information, they connect in a borderless world- across countries and cultures, and they communicate in a post-literate community where texts and tweets are brief, and where visuals and videos get the most cut-through.
With online learning and flexible delivery, student centricity (where the teaching and learning is designed to accommodate the needs of the student) is critical. Schools are responding to the new timetables of families and the complexity of redefined households and roles by moving from a 9am-3pm school day to new alternatives.
Traditional classrooms were constructed to keep distractions out, keep the students in and keep them facing the teacher. However 21st Century classrooms are being reconfigured (and rewired!) to accommodate new students, new technologies and new learning styles. It is recognised that rather than classrooms being the place where curriculums are taught, the spaces are an implicit curriculum in themselves and are key to supporting the educational journey.
Traditionally, the learning took place in the classroom and the practice and application took place through homework. However in the 21st Century the content can be accessed through technology anywhere, and often in very visual, engaging forms. However, discussion and application of the content is critical, and this requires an expert facilitator – the teacher. Thus the flipping of education where the learning takes place outside the classroom, but the essential engagement and practice is still conducted at school.
Contrary to what many believe, it is not that today’s learners are failing the education system but rather that the education system is failing today’s learners. One important factor is the way information is being communicated. On several fundamental levels, schools are often not connecting with students and their approaches to receiving knowledge. One aspect is the way many teachers communicate. In the eyes of our children it is the teachers who speak an outdated language or teach using 20th-century techniques. And no wonder – the median age of Australian school teachers is 44. If students don’t understand the way teachers speak, then it makes sense for teachers to adapt and speak in ways that today’s students can understand.
The problem is not that today’s learners are illiterate. They are writing more (emails) and sending more (text) messages, just in ways different to previous generations. As we have seen, they are the most educated generation in our history. The issue is that the literate forms of communication alone just won’t connect in today’s visual world. Today’s learners are a multi-modal generation and therefore demand communication styles that engage multiple learning channels.