VirtualMV/Digital Learning Technologies/Overview/21st C Learning

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Some think of 21st Century learning as just technology, however it encompasses all facets of student learning. Technology is an enabler or tool that assists. The 21st Century learner is a 20th C learner with add-ons (upsized!)


In Secondary Education

Features of 21 Century learning

Adobe connect session showing a Guest speaker from Australia (Joyce), the actual physical class in progress (in EIT Campus, Taradale, Napier), a combination of students in the class, in the local area (mix class attendance with watching from home) plus a distance learner (Gisborne)
  • Student focus
  • Critical thinking
  • Global
  • Social Communities (local, national and international)
  • Multimedia (video - YouTube)
  • Research community based, and can be done very quickly
  • Loads of distractions and choices
  • Mobile
  • Instant
  • High cognitive load - lots of information available
  • Cut 'n paste mentality
  • Huge mix of abilities (Digital gurus to digitally resistant )
  • Lifelong learning
  • Not necessarily interested in assessment. Happy to attend - apathetic
  • Many used to mediocre success
  • Multichannel (e.g. listens to music while studying/clears twitter/facebook)
    • Some chat and listen

Also see What should students learn in the 21st century? (Fadel, 2012) [1]

Classes may be multi-generational

Cambiano, De Vore & Harvey (2001)[2] identify five generational groupings:

  • Traditionalists: 1922 – 1943 (over 65)
  • Baby Boomers: 1944 – 1964 (44 – 64)
  • Generation X: 1965 – 1977 (31 – 43)
  • Generation Y: 1978 – 1994 (14 – 30)
  • Generation Z: 1995 - ? (Under 14)
  • Generation F: 2003 -
  • Liska (2005) and Boehle (2008) (in Corich, 2008)[3] have identified a number of characteristics and learning style preferences for each of the three groups. Their findings are summarised in the following Table.
Generation Characteristics Learning Style
Idealistic, Competitive ,Questioners of Authority, Tend to be optimistic, Like teamwork, Tend to be self-centered, Eager to put their own stamp on things
  • Like linear courses in which information is covered in a very logical,progressive manner.
  • They struggle with simulations.
  • They also accept objectives.
  • If you tell them upfront what the course objectives are and what the training will cover, they are apt to accept what you say.
Self-reliant, Resourceful, Distrustful of institutions, Highly adaptive, Skeptical, Desire balance, Enjoy informality, Are technically savvy, Respect is expected, Career not most important thing, Career hop to build skills, Want immediate feedback
  • Appreciate new technology and expect a certain amount of interactivity.
  • Like Boomers, they prefer linear content, but they also want to be able to "test out" of courses when they reach a point where their level of knowledge is sufficient.
  • Those in this generation also want choices, such as being able to turn audio and closed-captioned text in a course on or off.
  • They want you to teach them what they need to know and apply all the time.
  • If there is something that they won’t likely apply for another six months, they prefer not to receive training on it.
  • They'd rather receive a performance support tool or job aid to which they can refer later.
Globally concerned, Realistic, Technological savvy, Sociable, Diverse, Desire to achieve, Environmentally conscious
  • The first thing they like to do in a course is take a test and figure out what they don't know.
  • Then, they want to be able to go back in and learn what they don't.
  • They also want to navigate through parts of a presentation in the order they prefer.
  • Then, they want to have the option of researching references at their discretion.
  • Like real-world tasks.
  • Like Ludic (Play) Behavior .
  • Are Active & Kinesthetic or Graphic/Visual Learners.
  • They are motivated by technology.
  • They have a low threshold for boredom and short attention span.
  • Desire for adults to act as their peers.
  • Memorization - not something they will do
Generation_F (Facebook)
(2003 -)
(Smith, Winston, 2011)
  • Heavy multitaskers, easily distracted (procrastinate)
  • Adept at finding and filtering information
  • May exhibit Fear of Missing out (FOMO)
  • Communicate electronically, so may lack skills to read physical expressions
  • Rely on technology (e.g. can't recall phone numbers, need e-map to navigate)
  • Unconcerned with privacy
  • Use Google to diagnose illness (creates cybercondriatics)

(Kendall, 2013)[4]

  • All ideas compete on an equal footing.
  • Contribution counts for more than credentials.
  • Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.
  • Leaders serve rather than preside.
  • Tasks are chosen, not assigned.
  • Groups are self-defining and -organizing.
  • Resources get attracted, not allocated.
  • Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
  • Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
  • Users can veto most policy decisions.
  • Intrinsic rewards matter most.
  • Hackers are heroes.

ref: (Clayton S, 2009)Generation F

VmvIcon References.png References

  1. Fadel,C. (2012) What should students learn in the 21st century?. Retrieved from
  2. Cambiano, R. L., De Vore, J,B., Harvey, R, L. 2001. Learning Style Preferences of the Cohorts: Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation. APAACE Journal of Adult Learning, v10 p31-39
  3. Corich, S. (2008) Developing strategies to deal with the multiple generational groupings within the tertiary classroom. pp. 201-207. Retrieved from
  4. Kendall, P. (2013, March 13) Are we being rewired? The Dominion Post,p. A12.

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VirtualMV/Digital Learning Technologies/Overview/21st C Learning. (2022). In WikiEducator/VirtualMV wiki. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from http:    (zotero)