Sunday, September 30, 2012


Before establishing an analogy to illustrate the student of the 21st Century, it would be appropriate to make a brief introduction setting out the main characteristics that define the current student profile. In recent years, education has experimented several changes and transformations due to globalization, which have created new needs that education must cover to adapt to this new environment where the main characteristic is constant change. These changes in society, which nowadays is known as “society of knowledge”, have also affected learners, which are actually quite different than learners in past years. If we have to mention a basic aspect to define current learners’ profile, we would say that they have become the protagonists of their own learning.  Besides, they are also characterized by other several aspects shown below:
-          Students have an active role in their education.
-          High motivation and self-esteem.
-          Good capacity for dialogue and teamwork.
-          They are part of a huge community of learners. This fact has notably changed our conception of knowledge, especially in terms of how we are able to create or generate it. Some past theories affirmed that learning is something that only happens within the mind of an individual. Nowadays, the way learners generate knowledge is differently understood. According to George Siemens, in The Changing Nature of Knowledge, apart from acquiring knowledge as individuals, we also generate it through the connections established with other individuals.
-          They are highly interested in investigation: Current students are not only potential knowledge consumers, but they are capable to generate new knowledge through what is previously acquired.
-          They have a deep knowledge of new technologies of communication and information,   and highly developed abilities in using these tools and resources: This is probably one of the main characteristics within the profile of the 21th Century learner. As George Siemens’ article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for theDigital Age affirms, “Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.” The use of the internet tools with educational purposes is everyday more common in the classroom. We are undoubtedly facing a radical change in our teaching and learning methods.

Once we have an approximate profile of current learners, we notice that many things have changed throughout recent years. Focusing on the impact of technology on education, it is certainly interesting to find similarities with other past events in history in order to obtain a proper analogy to illustrate current learners. From my point of view, and after considering several ideas, I think that the process of change that education is experiencing today reminds me of what happened to the industry during the Industrial Revolution. Among the different events occurred within this period of time, we can underline the fact that economy at that time changed drastically thanks to the mechanization of industries, which caused the replacement of manual labor. In other words, our production system changed radically due to the introduction of machines in factories. The Industrial Revolution occurred many years ago, but now a new revolution in Education is coming soon. This current revolution is due to new technologies, which are notably changing our learning and teaching methods. In fact, we could affirm that some traditional teaching methods are slowly being replaced by other technology tools. Related to this obvious change in current education, a question comes to my mind: Who are the culprits of this revolution? Take into account the brief description of 21th century learners above, this question is easy to respond. In my opinion, students have clearly caused this new revolution, because their own characteristics as learners imply a huge change in education. The fact that they use technology in daily life from the very beginning of their lives, and they have developed great skills in using a wide range of technological tools and resources, is forcing education system adapting to them. Therefore, my analogy of 21th learners basically would say that students are like the “new revolutionaries of education”.