Generation C will live through the greatest educational transformation during the next three years. This transformation will not pushed by education reform but instead by the world in which we live and the transformation of what it means to be “learned.” Generation C (that is, the Connected Generation) already can master tech tools and information sources, leaving the greatest challenge of the education system: to encourage and inspire this generation to act on its ideas.
Generation C’s learning traits will be defined by personal drive, communication, and engagement in multiple learning platforms because they are active participants in choosing learning paths. The instructional strategies focused on constructivist, active, and authentic learning allow students to use tools, networks, and information-literacy skills to become problem solvers, artists, and world leaders of our global society. We can only hope that world of education’s data-driven evaluation will not lead our students to a world of analytics and testing, where they lose this ability to voice their ideas and be collaborators of knowledge to become the world’s caretakers.
Mobile Learning Will Be the New Norm
The digital transformation and connected m-generation are creating a new world: mobile learning through mobile devices in every student’s hand by 2016. The use of these devices center on the student’s ability to use a device, software, and tools to have education at their fingertips 24/7 to sift information, create new information, and communicate in many formats. The new literacy is not defined by traditional standards; rather, by the ability to use media literacy skills to acquire knowledge — vetted for accuracy — that draws on students’ critical thinking to create new information.
One of the best articles, How Technology Changed Learning, related to summarizing this transformation draws on great perspectives related to not only the tools that will disappear but also the fact that the tools and expanded classroom spaces will empower students to become more active instructional participants. The transformed role of the teacher as a learning facilitator will engage Gen C student in new virtual digital classroom sites, encourage mobile connectivity to learn 24/7, and use world experts as part of the learning process.
When you hear the term “m-learning,” it makes me believe learning will naturally extend beyond the classroom and allow student freedom to personalize learning pace, experiences, and networks. If I had to create my top five list of instructional activities and tools for Generation C students to use, the list would include:
- A QR code on every piece of knowledge to allow it go one step further in linking more learning opportunities
- Digital classroom environments that allow informal and formal communication to occur via any device, any place, any time
- A device in every student and teacher’s hand — a device of their choice and offering flexibility to access all open digital content material (otherwise we will continue to commercialize instructional educational choices)
- Reversed mastery learning for students to prepare before they enter any classroom arena (virtual or f2f) to push the conversations, application, and conversations of learning to new levels
- A world of experts dedicated to being active participants in the global educational process and willing to enter classrooms in any capacity — experts who ignite passion, dedication to knowledge, and world connections to learning
Bonus: If I could wave a magic wand and create open, secure, and global wifi to close any communication or education gaps, it would create a global community of all Generation C learners. Why? They will have to act together in the future.
Open Courseware Movement and Global Connections as the New Curriculum
When reviewing the list of What Will be Obsolete in Schools by 2020, what strikes me is that the needs of Generation C are driving this transformation on how education will be delivered — to learn beyond classrooms and seeking innovation as a key component to reform. I can list hundreds of Web tools and digital resources that are here today but are gone — or will now charge a small user fee — tomorrow, which makes me realize that education cannot be tool driven. Instruction instead must be open to the new ways to achieve mastery and compassion. The open-courseware movement, from primary grades to college, is creating a new market of education based not on cost, location, or technology tools but on the ability to learn and have access to materials 24/7.
What will be obsolete by 2020 is the formal instruction model and standardization of education to say what, how, or when something will be taught and a teacher standing in front of the classroom. The graphic on the Envisioning the Future of Education strikes me as one of the best visuals to show Gen C’s education future.
The open-education movement and virtual expansion of learning are allowing students to travel the world with a single click: They can tour the Parthenon virtually, see a live Web cam from a nature reserve in Africa, or conduct a magnified analysis of famous brush strokes form the Google Art project world museum collections. What will need to be fostered is the humanitarian component of global understanding, collaboration, and problem solving to help maintain the world.
When I mention world global citizenship to my students as a standard of learning, they no longer question that the access to information, tools, and opportunities make our world a very small place requiring their heart and hands in the future. This is the generation that has been transformed by watching world governments being overthrown live while people reported out events on social media sites and newcasts that promote the use of “ireporting.” The connections of people and ideas will be an essential role of educators to guide students to new paths of learning, discovery, and leadership.
Future Leadership Roles for Educating Generation C
One of the best pieces of advice about how to be effective technology or educational leader is: Do not look at high school kids to make instructional choices, but do look at early primary students to create a visionary plan on how they will progress through your system. Generation C will push education to new levels as its learners focus on the how and why of learning and not necessarily the who and what. The information, communication, and technology skill set of Generation C will re-create the definition from mastery of education to knowledge of information literacy and communication.
The question remains: What essential instructional practice and tools for Generation C will shape the purpose of education in our global society? Look for more answers and ideas in my next blog entry about the essential tools and elements of educating Generation C.