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Who is the Learner?

The Learners of Today Speak Out!

From grade school to university, students are speaking out about problems they see in education today. In the video to the right the little boy asks "Do you know how to use a computer? Are you sure you're my teacher? I'm a digital native. Do computers scare you? Are you afraid to use them...are you going to be my teacher or just my textbook?

OK, the little boy is probably being fed the lines to make a point, but the message is clear. Kids today grow up with technology and they expect that when they enter a classroom they will have at least the level they have outside in their own world. They no longer want to sit row by row in desks listening and reading from outdated books. They want to participate in the technological world they were born into. They are different.

In the video to the below High School Valedictorian, Erica Goldson rails against memorization and standardized tests. As the Valedictorian she can't say she is more intelligent than the rest, "Only the best at doing what she was told." She complains that she became a great test taker while others created music or art. Students become so focused on the test that they only learn how to memorize. She challenges future students to "demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind." And to educators she has a lot to say, " For those of you that work within the have the power to change the incompetencies of the can not accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach and the threat you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake!"
Erica Goldson

An Open Letter to Educators: Dan Brown

In colleges and universities today, we see varied student experiences. Dan Brown, a 19 year old, recent drop out of University of Nebraska and YouTube video blogger passionately speaks in his Open Letter to Educators about educational institutions. He asks, "What has education done to reinvent itself?

His answer, " In my experience, Nothing. Sure you've started using email, online databases, services like Blackboard. And if it were 1999, I'd be saying- Great! But it's not 1999 and if institutional education wants to survive in the information age, then institutional education needs to do more than adopt a few tools."

Dan talks about professors who stand in front of class lecturing with no student interaction, spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks that are never opened while newer and free information is available on the internet, and writing tests that are simply regurgitation of facts. Dan believes, "Society no longer cares how many facts we can memorize because in the information age facts are free....Education isn't about teaching facts. It's about stoking creativity, and new ideas. It's not about teaching students to's about empowering students to change the world for the better."

Dan dropped out of university because as he says, "My schooling was interfering with my education." Unable to get the interaction he desired, he is now focusing full time on his YouTube work. Currently, he is working on his Dan 3.0 channel where he has turned his life over to his video subscribers who will plan his life for the next year. (from an original post Karen's Captain Future e-Learning)

Generation Z: The Age of the Curator

Educators Agree: We need to know and understand our Students!

And it's not just Dan and Erica who see the problems. Don Tapscott sees many of the same problems. He points out that a person frozen in time from a century ago would marvel at the changes in most professions, but if that same person entered a university it would look much the same because the model of education has not changed. Tapscott believes that the digital natives will force a revolution in education because they are so different.

Today and in the future, education will need to be more interactive and customized. Students need to be active in creating their own learning. Teachers will need to be more like facilitators or guides who present learning opportunities for students to investigate. The interaction will need to make use of more multimedia. The interaction will also need to be more social and collaborative. Today's students are connected to each other on social networks and they are used to collaboration, so opportunity for collaboration is, and will be, necessary.

EduCitizenship 2020 believes that the first step in working towards the future is understanding the learners, and also understanding that it is not just the students who are the learners. As partners in education teachers need to model life-long learning through formal and informal continuous learning. According to Cisco's The Learning Society White paper, emergent innovations can help "create a new vision of learning—learning as an activity not a place, where it is wide open to new people with new ideas. Learners “pulling” learning toward themselves rather than teachers “pushing”. And learning systems that spread far beyond school and involve learners and parents as contributors."

In the Authorstream audio show and short video below we explore the question Who are the Millennials? Click to view

Who Are the Millennials?

Jessica is a student blogger in a forum called Notes from the Digital Frontier from Media Post. She describes herself as the digital native who Don Tapscott describes as having grown up digital. In her September 30, 2010 blog post she describes how she uses the internet to communicate via email, facebook, watch television, browse Wikipedia, search for answers on how to do things on YouTube , listen to free music, pay bills and get news. Read her post here Net-Gen Basics

Educause's 2010 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology Report shows that more students are using laptop or netbook computers (89%). Over half of those students are using devices that are under 1 year old. 9 out of 10 students use presentation software and their school's learning management system. 9 out of 10 use text messaging and social networking. 2/3rds of students own an internet capable handheld device. 1/4 of students are using e-books or e-texts while only 4% owned an e-reader. 1 in 5 were using podcasts videos and student response systems in classes. Cloud based resources are making in roads in student's academic lives with collaborative tools prominent. Fewer than 1/2 of students were happy with their teacher's use of technology. Complaints include ineffective use of technology, and lack of IT training for courses. Between 55-60% students say they prefer a moderate use of technology in their courses. The study suggests that mobile technology is rising and cloud-based applications are catching on with undergraduate students.

Next up, Who is the Teacher?