What does it mean to be a 21st-Century learner?

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The classroom we knew years back doesn’t exist anymore. Desks lined up in rows, chalkboards, and independent work has been exchanged for interactive technologies, movable desks and unconventional learning spaces.

Today’s learners collaborate with each other and share knowledge and resources. Passionate educators are no different. They share their experiences and learn from peers. They’re always on the lookout for learning strategies and pedagogically sound practices to best help their students succeed.

Technology has certainly been central to successful learning strategies. It fosters collaboration – where groups of students share a mutual understanding of learning; negotiate new ideas through social interactions; co-construct answers to problems; and engage in active participation.

Twenty-first-century learning means that students master content while producing, synthesizing, and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources with an understanding of and respect for diverse cultures. Students demonstrate the 3 Rs, but also the 6Cs: collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, computational thinking, contribution and communication.

The world no longer is in isolation. At an increasing speed, people from around the world are connecting in the workforce, world, and in schools. Students must therefore learn the skills necessary to share and work on ideas while adding input and suggestions in a respectful and responsible way.

“Success in the 21st century requires knowing how to learn. Students today will likely have several careers in their lifetime. They must develop strong critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills in order to be successful in an increasingly fluid, interconnected, and complex world”, says Candice DuPreez, Chief Operations Officer at Vastratech.

All children are creative and the goal in schools should be to preserve this creativity instead of hindering it, which is often the case through the schooling process. By allowing students multiple outlets for their creativity, to add to ideas and projects, and to create input, students can express their ideas and creativity outside of just art classes.

While it may take some time before schools and teachers are equipped to properly educate in the 21st century once they are the results will be dramatic. Children will be engaged and eager to learn. In fact, they will carry on learning at home and over holidays, and they will have the resources they need to keep learning no matter where they are. This ability to foster a love of learning is truly the role of education in the 21st century.

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