Education In The 21st Century

One of the best things about social media and Twitter in particular, is the great content that my digital friends share. A few weeks ago, Mike McAllen shared a powerful video created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University. I meant to blog about it, but with my hectic travel schedule, I just forgot about it. Fortunately, another Twitter friend, Shashi Bellamkonda mentioned the video again and that served as the kick in the pants that I needed to share it with you.

The YouTube description says the video “summarizes some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime.”

I attended college (Virginia Commonwealth University) before the digital age. My computer was a Radio Shack calculator. My social network was whoever was hanging out between classes in Shafer Court. My Digg was the list of articles that were available at the local Kinkos at $.10 a page and a professor lecturing in front of a chalkboard (or with an overhead projector) WAS the way I learned.

Of course, while the video paints a very different picture of today’s educational environment, some things have not changed that much. Like the students in the video, I paid big bucks for my textbooks in 1980 and most of them were never used.  Other realities described in the video remind me that things are much more challenging for students; like the idea that some of their first professional jobs will be in roles that don’t even exist today.

As I watch my daughter approach her high school and college years, it’s easy to see that her generation does virtually everything differently because of the internet and technology. Communication, learning, recreation, everything.  Current college students did experience life before the internet.  Today’s 13 year olds did not.  As suggested by the recent Media Snackers video, their lives are highly fragmented. They get their information from a vast array of sources, not just a teacher with chalk and a blackboard. When they join the workforce,they very well may be doing jobs that don’t exist today, and you can bet that they will work in complex, distributed environments.  Does this mean we should drastically rethink today’s highly structured educational process to better enable tomorrow’s workforce to compete in a global market? I’m no expert in education, but I think it’s worth looking at. What do you think??

4 comments so far

  1. Gavin Heaton on

    Great post, Doug. I am a big fan of Mike Wesch’s work and thinking. I am sure you have seen his The Machine Is Us/Using Us … but there is also a great behind the scenes vid on its making.

  2. Becky Carroll on

    Doug, my experience was slightly more tech-oriented as I was a EECS (electrical engineering computer science) major at Berkeley! 😉

    That said, what I see from my 13 year old is very different from what I saw at his age. Those teachers who can help students learn how to make sense of all the sources of information will be much admired and appreciated by students, parents, and future employers.

  3. Administrator on

    The College Networking Cafe is designed to give a social networking utility that connects college students with other college students from around the world!

    http://www.collegenetworkingcafe.com/
    Students can use the college networking cafe to keep up with college friends, news, upload photos, share links and videos, you can also become affilates to help build your own community and just learn more about their fellow classmates.

  4. […] Education In The 21st Century […]


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