Friday, March 19, 2010

The Learner of Today

A learner is like a butterfly these days, going through a hyper-fast growth process from caterpillar to butterfly stage. Due to collectivism that has been created by information technology, learners do not have to go through the arduous, time consuming process of searching through physical paper materials, or making appointments to "see" an expert or health care professional to gain knowledge on a concern or question. These days answers to a learner's questions are a few clicks away on the internet's information highway. It takes much less time to connect to experts and receive answers to questions through email, blogs, and social network sites. Gaining knowledge on a particular topic for a paper or presentation in a classroom takes much less time to acquire; due to the fact one no longer has to spend time going through the process of finding materials where the information is located, then going out to seek those materials, get to a spot to either copy the materials or sit in a library going through all these materials one by one to pull pertinent information. Learners can simply type in a query and on a computer screen comes more information on a topic than a learner could ever imagine to find , or have access to in one sitting going through the old process. They have the capability of comparing and contrasting information in front of their eyes immediately, no more waiting on information from library loans, which sometimes would take weeks to days to receive. There is less time spent copying materials so the learner does not have to go through the process of finding them again, now they are constantly a click away at their fingertips. So the caterpillar is growing into a knowledgeable butterfly at a rate that far exceeds the abilities of a student's in past years.

In the article written by George Siemens, he speaks about how "formal education no longer comprises the majority of learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways-through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks." ( Retrieved March 19, 2010. Children and adults have the benefits of expanding and making more connections in the knowledge they gain far beyond a classroom direct instruction and the creation of assignments, which still address only one side or aspect of the knowledge. Currently, learners can take the knowledge, open up a forum to get opinions, experiences, and other arguments and sides to issues over the Internet- it can be likened to putting all the information on a rubics cube and everytime the learner flips or twists the cube they gain a new aspect to a concept. This idea is further expressed in the video posted by Siemens where he talks about the 'actual act of simply expressing ourselves with other people on the knowledge we have expands our ability to further our own insights on a subject and gain new perspectives and ideas to add to our knowledge.' ( Retrieved March 19,2010. Siemen's idea is that learners gain more from discussing knowledge with other people because we are social beings and we enjoy learning through dialog, rather than being talked at on a subject. The entire experience of having a discussion with someone is more memorable to learners and adds so much more to the learning process.

Both of these points change the classroom for teachers, whether traditional teachers realize this or not. Children are not as sheltered in their knowledge as they used to be- the Internet adds a whole new aspect to learning than traditional book learning. Learning can truly become a whole experience, even if they can't physically go into the Congo to experience it, they can "virtually" be there; then they can share their questions and experiences on the Internet and internalize the experience, thus experiencing a deeper learning process. This type of teaching can make even subjects that may not be as appealing to learners, more interesting and maybe more memorable.


  1. I like your anagolgy about children today being learners who are forced to grow up faster then we were expected to. I completely agree that the internet is a good thing, but it also takes away from some of the innocense that children use to have. I taught kindergarten last year and some of the things they would talk about watching, seeing, or playing on the internet blew my mind. I understand how technology is a good thing for our society to have, but I think learning experiences at a more appropiate age is benefical too. I dont think children should be robbed from their childhood, because once it is gone you can not get it back. I think it is a good idea for classrooms to stay up to date with the lastest technologies, but I also think you should reiterate to their students the importance of imaginative play, going outside, and putting down the video game controller or mouse. Technology for learners is benefical, but it also can sometimes force us into a stage of our life that we are not emotionally or socially ready for.

  2. I agree Katie. Unfortunately, the internet is only one of many variables causing our children to grow up too fast. But it's nice to see there is another teacher out there bringing children back to the idea of going outside and playing. I also try to bring nature back into the classroom in my Pre-K class as much as possible. We had a bullfrog tank last Spring into Summer, I learned as much as the kids!! It was fascinating to watch them grow and change!I released them before Winter came, teaching the children that nature ultimately belongs in nature.

  3. I really liked your comment, "These days answers to a learner's questions are a few clicks away on the internet's information highway" it is so true. We have access to so much information and that is why I think it is critical to adapt our teaching practices and use the resources we have. Nice analogy!!