Educators have a challenge we have never faced before… prepare students to be able to find solutions for problems that don’t even exist yet. Prepare them to be able to use technologies that are changing and evolving exponentially every day.

The concept that technical information is being replaced every two years is staggering. For students that enter a four year technical field of study; what they learn and have interacted with by the end of their sophomore year will be outdated by the time they graduate. But the prediction is that by 2020 the new technical information will be replaced every 72 hours. No doubt industry, manufacturing and the consumer market will not be able to replace every technological device every 72 hours; however this evolution of technology is going to significantly enhance, change and challenge the world systems as we know them today.

What are educational systems to do?

21st Century Skills acquisition should be front and center: critical thinking, collaboration, innovation, research and development, technology, and communication are all vital for successful global competitors in the 21st century.

If we want to adequately prepare students for the complex global society they will enter, then we must think differently about education. Our current "factory" model with Carnegie units does not effectively address the new needs our graduates in the next decade and beyond will have. It becomes less and less relevant how we used to do it and more relevant to consider how do they need it. It should not be about the way I like to teach, rather about they way the students learn.

Accessing information with up-to-date tools is more appropriate in the 21st century than requiring them to learn, memorize and store information.

What current and popular venues can educators utilize to design their lessons, the work students are to perform and the information they need to interact with and master, in a way that is more engaging, relevant and “fun”.

How can we who are 20th century people effectively stimulate students who live by technology. We live with technology, utilizing it as much as we are comfortable. Their lives are characterized by their technology. iPods, text messaging, Facebook and Myspace, YouTube, podcasting and vodcasting and the list goes on developing and evolving every day.

Harvard and Yale Law Schools have virtual classrooms; in fact the virtual worlds are spreading in higher education like a wild fire. We have to let go of the fear of developing technologies just as our predecessors let go of their concerns with slate boards, fountain pens, calculators, email and the like. We must embrace the changes that come and utilize them for educational advantage if we hope to prepare students to adequately interact with the complex global society they enter. Often students adjust and learn what they need to when they need to on their own. We could insist that we don’t need to give attention to these things they will learn it when they need to.

But I ask you… Why wouldn’t we do all we can to prepare students as much as we can?

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Tags: 21st, Philosophy, century, education, future


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