Thursday, February 10, 2011

Students today are different - how should this impact on teaching and learning?

I've been reading the report A Guide to Becoming a School of the Future.  The first part of this report deals with how students have changed.  The good news is that the report highlights how students are learning all the time, though often using resources that are new such as blogs, podcasts, social media, gaming, virtual worlds and skype - and that these are often accessed using mobile technology.  Today's students are communicating with each other using these technologies which are virtually free yet provide worldwide access.

What the report highlights as being very different is the mindset of the students who see knowledge as open, collaborative, accessible and often from the bottom up - such knowledge is usually presented as multimedia.  In contrast many of the "older generation" (teachers, parents, employers) see knowledge as something individual, controlled, owned, transmitted from the top down through experts, and often presented as text.  Our students want to receive information quickly and from multiple sources.  Teachers often prefer a slower release of information after it has been edited by experts, and usually prefer a step by step approach in contrast with the multi-tasking approach of the students.  Teachers are also more likely to value independent work, students are more likely to value collaboration.  Teachers are more likely to take a "just-in-case" approach to teaching and learning, students are more likely to want a "just-in-time" approach.

Whose learning preferences are more likely to drive teaching and learning in today's schools?  Unfortunately the answer to this is the teachers' who see schools as places to learn as opposed to students who see the world as the place to learn.

How can we change this focus?  What should future learning environments look like?  How should we organise the time to learn?  What tools do today's students need?

Photo Credit:  Back to the Future by darkmatter

1 comment:

  1. Future learning environments are going to have to be much more flexible learning spaces than we are currently using. Right now the learning spaces are set up for very traditional learning opportunities.