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Lucubrate Magazine, Issue 43, October 19th, 2018
There is at least one generation gap between the Learners and the Teachers! It is also important to recognize that the 21st-century learners are indeed very different from what we were as students.
The Student Has Not Touched a Typewriter
Most of them have never worn a watch, touched a typewriter, played a record album, calculated with a slide rule, traveled in a steam engine, hand-written a letter, known a world without computers. “Today’s young generation knows more about technology than do their teachers. Young kids get bored if they are doing only one function at a time; they need multiple stimuli. For example, a new generation of learners watches their computer screens, listen to music through headphones, and carry on the conversation; all at the same time.
Today’s learners have short attention spans and have the attitude of take-it-all-at-once. They experience a technologically-saturated childhood. Unlike adults, they are not surprised by new technology — they integrate it into their lives. They want and expect to collaborate with their teachers (and bosses), not take orders from them”.
There are significant differences between four recent generations:
- the Matures (1900 – 1946)
- the Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)
- Generation X (1964 – 1982)
- Generation Y or Generation Net (1982 – Present).
Throughout a century, the teaching style has transformed lecture, primarily verbal, and wrote, for Matures, to interactive, even in large classes, and problem-based with feedback via clickers and online software. Then for Generation Y; and the Learning style from memorizing, try again and again, for Matures, to simulations, frequent interaction with faculty and peers, and open-ended, for Generation Y.
Changes in the New Teaching and Learning Environment
During the last three decades, the changes in the educational environment have been phenomenal. The model, focus, role of the learner and technology have been changed drastically from traditional instruction to virtual learning environment as depicted below.
Table 1. Changes in TeachingLearning Environment
Change in the Roles of Both Teachers and Learners
Shifting the emphasis from teaching to learning can create a more interactive and engaging learning environment for teachers and learners. This new environment also involves a change in the roles of both teachers and learners. The purpose of the teachers will change from knowledge transmitter to that of facilitator, knowledge navigator and sometimes as co-learner. The new role of teachers demands a new way of thinking and understanding of the original vision of the learning process. Learners will have more responsibilities of their learning as they seek out, find, synthesize, and share their knowledge with others. ICT provides powerful tools to support the shift from teacher-centered to the learner-centered paradigm and new roles of teacher, learner, curricula and new media. The significant variations have been described in the table below.
Table 2. Changes in Teachers’ Roles
Table 3. Changes in Learners’ Roles
To develop an effective curriculum, teachers must be curriculum leaders. Ensuring that teachers are central to the reformation of the curriculum will enable the development of the pedagogy that provides the most favorable condition of learning and the highest quality learning outcomes for all students. The significant changes in curricula are as follows:
Table 4. Changes in Curricula & Delivery
Teachers are expected to create a new, flexible and open learning environment in the ICT era with interactive, experiential and multimedia-based delivery system. Today, interactive technologies enable learners to enjoy the experience of acting as citizens in a borderless world, acquiring local and global knowledge without leaving the classroom. The significant changes in media application are as follows:
Table 5. Changes in Media Applications
ICT Can Help Teachers and Learners to Communicate and Collaborate
All these changes taking place in learning and teaching demand a new learning environment to effectively harness the power of technology to improve knowledge. ICT has the potential to transform the nature of education: where, when, how and the way learning takes place. It will facilitate the emergence of a responsible knowledge society emphasizing lifelong learning with meaningful and enjoyable learning experiences. The integration of technology into teaching and learning always places pedagogy over technology. Mastering ICT skills are not the only concern, but instead, it involves using ICT to improve teaching and learning. The primary emphasis of ICT infusion in pedagogy should be such that it tends to enhance learning, motivate and engage learners, promote collaboration, foster inquiry, and exploration, and create a new learner-centered learning culture: a bold response to knowledge explosion that has taken place and described above. It permits the move from a reproductive model of teaching and learning to an independent, autonomous learning model that promotes initiation, creativity and critical thinking with independent research. Learners are expected to collect, select, analyze, organize, extend, transform and present knowledge using ICT in an authentic and active learning paradigm. Teachers are expected to create a new flexible and open learning environment with interactive, experiential and multimedia-based delivery system. ICT should help teachers and learners to communicate and collaborate without boundaries, make learners autonomous and allow teachers to bring the whole world into the classroom. It is ultimately important to understand the role of ICT in promoting educational changes. The basic principle is that the use of ICT changes the distribution and ownership of information resources in the space of teaching and learning and thus changes the relationship among educational participants. While designing any innovative education and learning environment using ICT, the teacher should always keep learning at the center of all activities and pedagogy should be at heart, and integration of pedagogy-technology should be the central focus.
Technological Obsolesces and Generic Skills
A teacher requires many educational and didactical skills to deal with new situations. In concrete terms, this concerns matters that teachers need to know, and issues that need to be transferred to the next generation. These are
- Understanding the subject matter deeply
- Learning to learn Skills
- A large knowledge of digital educational tools.
- How to be a facilitator and motivator of the learning environment
The new learning environment differs from the one we are familiar with; the teacher has to cope with many more uncertainties. A curriculum in which lessons and content are fixed no longer exists. It requires Generic Soft Skills like:
- Values and attitudinal
- Cross-cultural understanding
- Sustainable development
The teachers of the 21st century require the ability to jump between fields of technical specialization and capture the key issues quickly. A base-level of familiarity with scientific concepts and processes reduces the time taken to master new areas where emerging tasks and work processes occur. Generic skills are not just restricted to their usefulness in the workplace but are equally required across the spectrum of living experience in today’s world.
Emerging workplace demands a new set of generic skills for the learners. In addition to job-specific technical competencies, there is a requirement of a set of generic skills, which are generic to a cluster of occupations to perform competently as a knowledge worker. All learners require generic skills. However, the extent to which these skills need to be possessed varies from one occupational grouping to another. The varying levels of generic skills use needs to be determined to further guide the development of educational content rich in job-specific and generic skills formation.
Lucubrate Magazine, Issue 43, October 19th, 2018
The photo on top: New Africa
The article is a part of an article in the UNESCO IICBA Newsletter Vol. 13 No. 2 December 2011. The article is called “New Challenges in TVET Teacher Education,” written by Prof. Shyamal Majumdar, Ph.D.