Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century
- This is a general guide on how to structure your Assignment 1B Essay.
- As this is the second assignment in this unit you will not be provided with a detailed essay guide like was provided to you for Assignment 1a.
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- Total word count: 2000 words +/- 10%
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Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century
Education serves a variety of different purposes, but it is mainly related to events occurring in the society. Consequently, education tends to reflect what is happening in society, and to respond to any challenges that may be present in society. This is probably best reflected in the nature of 21st century education, particularly when contrasted with teaching and learning in the 20th century. As the society has transitioned into the 21st century, which is sometimes referred to as the information age, there has also been a shift in the nature of education. This transition can be attributed to a variety of factors. The most notable of these factors are globalization, societal change and technology. These factors have had a great impact on society, which has been carried over into the education sector. It is worthwhile noting that there are also close associations and cross-impacts between these three factors. For instance, advances in technology have played a major role in globalization. Globalization, in turn, has led to societal changes. Thus, one would not be mistaken by arguing that technology has had the greatest impact on education in the 21st century, both directly and indirectly. This essay explores how teaching and learning have changed in the 21st century, with a focus on the three aspects that have been mentioned.
The current system of education differs significantly from traditional approaches of education, particularly in terms of educational practices. Education comprises of teaching and learning, and as such, it is important to understand what is meant by 21st century education in terms of these two paradigms. 21sty century teaching differs significantly from 20th century teaching, or what is now usually referred to as traditional teaching. For starters, teaching in the 21st century involves a much greater deal of technology. EF Explore America (2012) highlight that 46% of teachers indicated giving homework that relies on technology. Evidently, 21st century education is highly reliant on technology as a tool for teaching. The greater reliance on education is further illustrated by the increased focus on digital literacy and digital literacy evaluation. According to Barret (2014), computer skills are now being tested in three states, albeit at a trial level. Apart from technology, 21st century teaching is also characterized by collaboration and the use of learning spaces. The Victoria State government reports case studies of schools that have adopted unique teaching practices characterized by learning communities (Victoria State Government, 2017). For example, Bellaire Primary School, which teaches through open plan environments. The innovative learning environments in this school are illustrative of how, not just teaching has changed in the 21st century, but also, learning.
Learning, the second aspect of education, is also a radically different experience in the 21st century. As noted, there have been significant changes in the learning environments. Schools such as Bellaire Primary in the State of Victoria have undergone significant ramifications. These learning environments, referred to as innovative learning environments (ILE), are characterized by a focus on providing an individualized learning experience. To achieve these ends, the physical spaces have been altered to create spaces that promote flexibility and mobility. Apart from the alterations in physical spaces, 21st century learning involves the use of technology to a great extent. EF Explore America (2012) indicates that 94% of students in their survey reported using technology for their assignments. The roles and goals of education in the 21st century are also greatly different. In terms of roles, 21st century education is highly collaborative, with students being more than just passive learners absorbing information. Rather, they participate in the learning process by searching for and sharing in information. Evidently, 21st century education is different from the traditional approach, and it is important to understand the factors that are driving these changes.
The first factor that is driving change in education and perhaps the most significant is technology. Technology is one of the most pervasive trends in education today. Technology has driven changes both internally and externally. Externally, technology is responsible for a wide variety of changes in society, and radically transforming the manner in which affairs are conducted. Consequently, this has imposed new demands on individuals, and new job areas. According to EF Explore America (2012), a good number of the top jobs in 2012 did not exist as recently as 2002. Some of technologically related jobs include social media strategist and telework manager. These jobs are highly reliant on technology. Consequently, education has had to respond to these changes by adapting new ways of teaching and learning. At the internal level, technology has affected the manner in which education is administered. Technology has become a part of the delivery system of education, with digital literacy studies taking center stage. This is illustrated by the testing of computer literacy as highlighted by Barrett (2014). It has also already been noted that many teachers offer assignments that require technology, with most students relying on technology to do their assignments. Technology, however, is only the first factor.
Another significant factor that has transformed education is globalization. Globalization essentially refers to the integration of the world in terms of world views, ideas and products (Palacious, 2015). It is important, however, to recognize that there is no single, universally agreed upon definition of globalization (Bartlett & Burton, 2016). Thus, different people conceive the notion differently, with some characterizing it as above stated, that is, in terms of the movement of goods, people and ideas (Bartlett & Burton, 2016). Advances in technological are responsible for the new phenomenon of globalization, which is much faster and easier. The impact of globalization on education occurs due to the various exchanges noted above. The movement of people and ideas places new demands on education systems. At this point, it is important to note the two paradigms of education as indicated by The RSA (2010). These are the economic paradigm and the cultural paradigm. Economically, globalization places new demands, to which education must respond through the generation of qualified human capital. In terms of culture, The RSA (2010), indicates that education is caught in straits between cultural preservation and being part of the global marketplace. This cultural paradigm has particularly been articulated as social change.
Social change is the final aspect investigated as leading to changes in education. Social change can be understood as the alterations in cultural values and behavioral patterns that occur over time (Churchill et al., 2012). As noted, one of the principal driving forces is globalization, whereby it leads to a greater mobility of both people and ideas. Social change leads to changes in ideals and value systems, cultural symbols and social organizations. Technology also plays a role in the process of social change, through the transference of cultural values via various types of media like social media. Social changes have led to changes in the demands of the marketplace, whereby as earlier noted, these changes are consequently transmitted into education. For example, English has grown into a prominent global language, with EF Explore America (2012) indicating that the proportion of Chinese population learning English nearly equals the population of the United States. Social changes are also reflected in the learning place, where there has been a shift from the individualistic methods of learning, to those that are more collaborative. Education in the 21st century has been transformed and to understand the magnitude of this change, it is important to consider some of the changes that have occurred.
The impact of the factors that have been discussed is that there has been a shift in educational practices and the design of the curriculum. For starters, one of the most significant changes in practice is the adoption of digital learning tools and practices. In today’s classrooms, technology is increasingly being used for a number of purposes. According to Jisc (2015), information communication technology has driven a fundamental revolution in education, whereby ICT proficiency now sits at the core of the entire education experience. ICT proficiency then supports other aspects such as digital learning and development, and digital creation, problem solving and innovation. Pedagogues use ICT and technology to support these functions. Barrett (2014) further reports that technology is increasingly being used as a tool in the teaching process. Clearly, 21st technology differs from traditional education in terms of the use of technology in the teaching process.
Apart from the inclusion of new tools, there has also been a change in terms of the approach to education. Traditionally, education was a process whereby teachers sought to impart knowledge on students. The RSA (2010) likens the traditional approach as a kind of manufacturing process, where schools functioned as factories for the production of human capital. Some of the similarities that The RSA alludes to include the processing of students in batches and the presence of artefacts such as the school bell. In the contemporary approach, however, education is more of a collaborative process. Unlike the traditional; approach where classrooms were closed and learning occurred in isolated environments, 21st century education is taking place in flexible learning environments. In these flexible learning environments, teaching occurs in teams, whereby the rooms have operable walls. Consequently, teachers can combine classrooms, allowing them to choose the size of the classroom, and the number of teachers that each classroom has. Importantly, students today are being taught through such approaches as problem-based learning, which has been reported to increase creativity (Bronson & Merryman, 2014). This is perhaps in recognition of the increasingly dynamic nature of the global economy, as highlighted by The RSA (2010), and EF Explore America (2012). These shifts in education practices indicate a shift in the right direction, considering some of the overarching factors.
There are many reasons why the changes in educational practices are welcome and why further changes are necessary. For starters, there is the volatile nature of the marketplace. From an economic perspective, The RSA (2010) indicates that pedagogues face a dilemma regarding preparing students for the economy, considering that it is impossible to predict the economy even within a week. This notion is supported by EF Explore America (2012), who report that many students will work in jobs that don’t even currently exist, and will rely on technologies that haven’t been invented. Evidently, there is an overarching economic volatility in the market place and in the economy, which makes it imperative for a shift in educational practices. The need for change is further underscored by the RSA, which goes on to highlight that many of the current practices were designed for an entirely different age. To combat and tackle the challenges of the current and coming ages, there us therefore a need to adopt new educational practices, especially technological literacy. The adoption of technology in classrooms today helps to prepare students for the current digital world.
The nature of 21st century education radically
differs from 20th century or traditional approaches to technology.
Factors such as technology, globalization and social change have prompted changes
in educational practices. Today, technology has gained an integral role in the
learning process, albeit the pace of adoption is till wanting. The need for
changes in educational practices, such as the adoption of technology are
underscored by factors changes in the larger society. New technologies have led
to increased mobility and faster information transfer. These consequences in
turn facilitate globalization and lead to social change. Educational practices
need to respond to changes in both the economic and cultural paradigms of
education. From an economic perspective, new job opportunities have merged,
facilitated by technology and social changes. Educational practices need to
respond to these changes by preparing students for these opportunities. Culturally,
there is a need for teaching practices that are responsive to changes in
culture. Overall, technology, specifically information technology, appears to
be the common overarching factor in all of these trends, and should thus take
an even more prominent role in education.
Barrett, R. (2014, March 13). Computer literacy tested in schools amid concerns of digital divide. ABC News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-13/students-skills-tested-amid-digital-divide-concerns/5319156
Bartlett, S. & Burton, D. (2016). Introduction to Educational Studies. New York: SAGE.
Bronson, P. & Merryman, A. (2014). The Creativity Crisis. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/creativity-crisis-74665
Churchill, R. et al. (2012). Teaching, Google eBook: Making a Difference. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2012). Building and infrastructure: Learning spaces research. Retrieved from http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/research/Pages/infrastructure.aspx
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2012). Making the most of flexible learning spaces. Retrieved from https://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/govrel/ber/2011/berflexiblespace.pdf
EF Explore America. (2012, March 15). What is 21st century education? . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax5cNlutAys
Palacios, M. (2015). Imact of globalisation to education . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-VBVLQRmmw
The RSA. (2010). RSA Animate – Changing education paradigms. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U