The Online Learner and the 21st Century

Fri, Jul 31, 2015

Distance Learning, Uncategorized

by Dr. Jill Fuson, Faculty Director, School of Business
American Public University

With technology evolving so quickly, educators must take extensive measures to be sure they are not left behind; especially in online learning. The traditional brick and mortar schools and colleges are quickly being replaced by online learning which changes the nature of how educators teach and how students learn. Today’s world is technology rich forcing educators to plan for the future or they will definitely be left behind. Learning strategies focused on the adult learner must integrate communication and information technologies engaging students in ways previous not possible. These strategies must extend interaction through local and global communities and look for creative ways to incorporate emerging technologies into the classroom.

According to Draves and Coates(2011), by the year 2020, 75% of how we live, work and learn will be significantly different than in 2000. Transitioning into the 21st century, the infrastructure and institutions we currently use will be obsolete. Simply, the new age demands we adapt or be left behind. In the last century, the Industrial Age, most students were headed to offices, factories, or management. Current students, along with succeeding generations, are not headed to factories, offices and will have no need to be supervised under the current workplace pyramid structure. Many are working from home as the Intranet replaces offices and networks replace pyramids.

Today’s classroom is multi-age and educators must be able to manage diverse generations. The current generation of traditional students was born into a highly technological world while older students are struggling to transition from pen and paper to a paperless world with new-fangled gadgets and software not only in the classroom but in their everyday life. Families are managing and communicating with mobile technologies at all ages as new technologies emerge.

Integrating information and communication technologies can transform the instructor role in the classroom. Along with the standard role of motivating and engaging students, learning institutions must ensure their faculty is well trained and able to operate and assist students in navigating and communicating within the classroom.

With technologies growing rapidly, it is an exciting time to be in education. As our University is evolving into the new age of technologies and incorporating these technologies into the classroom, faculty must be accepting and willing to learn by being a team player and taking an active part. So get ready….here we come….. busting into the 21st Century with new technologies to take our student’s educational journey to unimaginable heights .

Draves, W. A. & Coates, J. (2011). The pedagogy of the 21st century. LERN Books, River Falls, WI

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