21st Century Learning
The past 100 years have brought unprecedented technological advancement. Technology has unleashed a creative and economic revolution, and re-shaped the spaces in which we live and work. Except classrooms.
The organization of the typical classroom was based on an industrial-revolution-era model of the economy. Classrooms, and schools more broadly, embodied the core values of efficiency, mass production, and standardization.
The very notion of educational standards implies that all students should be treated as equals. In reality, students come from a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds. The richness of student life does not lend itself to rigid standardized instruction.
21st Century Students
Today's classrooms are rich with diversity along several notable axis. For one, there is diversity of skills. Students may have different levels of proficiency with technology; they might have different capacities for communication; or they may have varying literacy skills.
Second, there is a diversity of experience. Some students might be newcomers to Canada, building a new home and embracing a new educational opportunity. Other students might have spent decades in the manufacturing sector, and are embarking on a re-training opportunity. Others yet, might be on a pathway to – or from – university, a product of seeking multiple credentials to broaden their skill set.
This diversity underscores the importance of Universal Design for Learning, which offers students multiple means of presentation; multiple means of assessment; and multiple means of engagement.
For an instructor, navigating this dynamic environment can be challenging. Luckily there are supports available.