24 thoughts on “Has learning changed?

  1. Hey Dean,
    Learners have changed, because what they have to learn and they way they show it has changed too. The age of paper exams and scores for entrance to institutions, in my humble opinion, is fast coming to an end. Instead, competency based learning and solving problems to demonstrate learning using a variety of platforms, technologies and thinking styles will become the norm. The sooner that dinosaur education bureaucracies realise this, rejecting the public opinion and media based impression that the existing summative assessment,19th Century school institution serves the 21st Century student, and plans for modern learning and achievement, the better. That help?

  2. A similar question a few years ago at a staff day prompted staff to offer that students have become much more focused on the relationship with the teacher (care) as opposed to the old mentality of telling me what I need and marking me appropriately (fair).

    I suspect that learners have not changed but our understanding of learning has.

    In terms of context, focus has become much more important in a world dominated by multi-tasking.

    What may be perceived as a change in learners is usually just a reflection that the methods of teaching them are completely out of date for 2010. It is not the learners who have changed, it is the world around them.

  3. Learners who have accepted cultural changes, stepped into the contemporary flow of much information, and embraced the multi-modal venues and I/O devices for processing knowledge have changed. Learners who have not, remain tied to traditional learning patterns. Our students are the former and they have changed. Where we fail to acknowledge this and to leverage contemporary tools and methods, we create students and situations that are formulaic and often lack true rigor, engagement,creativity and risk-taking.

    • Is it simply a growing awareness that it is the phenomenon of human interaction and communication which in some way or other is the key element to unlocking the interactive learning potential?

  4. I currently support teachers to implement technology into their classrooms, so when I discuss learners, I am writing about teachers as learners.

    In the past 2 years I have seen learners change from needing everything written on paper, to being able to cope with bookmarking and tagging resources to read on screen later on.

    Learning for teachers was traditionally associated with the hours of 9am – 3pm. Through stories about, and experience of, offering after school professional development opportunities, I could no confidently say that learning does not just occur in a 6 hour window, but perhaps a 12 hours window.

    In the professional learning space, online learning is becoming more widely used. Through availability of resources (both department and private) staff are aware of the need to learn new skills, and are accessing this learning when they can, however they can. This is a positive outcome for all students in their classrooms.

    An up-skilled teacher who has experienced online, 24/7 learning is, in my opinion, likely to lead students to do the same…this is good right?

  5. I think learners change only when their teachers become learners. In my own experience, I’ve become more of a learner in the past 12 months and this is reflected in my teaching practice which in turn is reflected in my students. Last year I handed out treeloads of paper, now I encourage students to source the information themselves and to create the questions themselves.

    That’s just my experience though. What about learners in general though? I’m hopeful that DER has changed learners but I refer back to my original point, learners can’t change until the people guiding them realize they too are the same learners. I also agree with Jonesy, until our assessment processes change, learners can’t really change. A competent 21st century learner cannot and should not be expected to recall 12 months of facts in a two hour exam.

    Some learners have changed but we need MORE learners guiding our young learners before learning can comprehensively change.

  6. … also has learn-ing changed?
    … also have teachers changed?
    … has government (vision & direction) changed?
    … have people/Australians changed?
    … has *’change’ changed?

    * change, is it still the same?
    ##Although I love to ‘think’, we MUST ‘do’!

  7. I think its true to say that learners change as their understanding of themselves as learners changes. Townesy is right too I think in saying that as teachers change, classroom practice changes, and so students/learners are able to change. If the old sage on the stage is giving forth ‘pearls of wisdom’ and pedagogy is limited to being reflective of their own values and learning styles then its very difficult for the learners to change, or to demonstrate change. The more learners learn about learning and thinking, the more they change.

    • Concrete experiences often continue, on the one hand, to blame technology as being insufficient, and, on the other hand, to emphasize that face-to-face learning processes are – in many aspects – of higher learning quality that distributed learning processes in virtual environments. By virtual, I mean something other than a standard classroom – one in which a teacher has successfully integrated digitial-social and a climate in which students teach, mediate and learn with each other – rather than being continually directed and coaches with explicit time-directed activities.

  8. I think we’ve always been curious. That’s the nature of being a human being. If we weren’t curious, society wouldn’t have evolved to this point – obvious really. I think we’ve always seen people who take their learning further than others; the natural inquirers who challenge conventions and learn outside of the normal spheres we consider as learning institutions. It’s those people who take us somewhere new and bring others with them in the process. The modes of learning are changing, and the adoption of these new modes are in large part dependent on exposure, but the learners themselves? I think we’re just seeing new modes of operandi; we will continue to see the natural inquirers adopt readily, and those who go with the flow will follow suit when the practice becomes the norm.

    • So if today’s quals dont accurately reflect ability – and we are interested in exposure to new ideas, people and challenges – do we need to rethink how we measure and value teachers?

  9. Have learners changed? No, the context in which they are taught has changed. The traditional classroom as we call it and know it is a relatively recent concept and is only one way of transmitting our understanding of the world from one generation to the other. The longer we continue with the current seemingly mainstream way of viewing eduction the more we validate that process. This method is one of outsourcing the teaching and learning from the family to society of the day and culture.

    There are other known ways such as the tribal passing on of knowledge and understanding from parent to offspring, but more importantly these are only two of a myriad of ways of engaging learning and developing understandings in the next generations.

    I venture to say that we have an untold number of compinations and permutations on how we teach our young and how we all foster life long learning in our evolving community of humanity.

  10. Where we learn and when we learn, and who we learn from certainly have changed. Learning is no longer relegated to in a classroom-during school hours-from the teacher in the room.

    Why do the learners in my classroom learn so quickly when using computers? I think it’s because the menu-driven system can allow them to take risks, knowing that they can back-track and try another option. They also turn to the learner on the computer next to them and watch what they are doing – it seems there is always another learner to help them.

  11. I think there is more emphasis on understanding and doing than remembering and regurgitating so learners have changed too. There is less memorising and more analysing and creating, from a younger age.

    Students (and many teachers) also seek more engagement. As much as I hate that word, students have also learnt the lingo. They’ve always wanted it but now it’s considered possible and preferable. Thus learning is perceived more as ongoing interaction rather than a transmission process of teacher/textbook to student.

    Which brings me to technology. Information is not only held by an elite few who successfully publish books. Learners now know they can attain information from just about anyone anywhere.

    Anyway, this is what immediately comes to mind in response to your question.



  12. My 2 bits worth

    Learners have changed. Learners is a large spectrum of people though.

    The students I teach are diverse in learning styles, some though only a few still require ROTE, handouts and books to succeed in our not so modern curriculum’s.

    The changed Majority though are harder to pin down. They benefit from a multitude of learning experiences. These can range from discussion, viewing related video content, reading through a web tutorial with text images and examples. Others enjoy watching and relating to teacher instruction via large screen projectors, questioning as they go while taking notes or experimenting themselves.

    The largest change to learners, no matter their age since I left a place of learning over 23 years ago is the expected quality of resources. Modern students will always be less engaged if the resources are old, dog eared, or broken as is the case in many of our schools. Why? because they can buy the resources themselves or source them via web.

    Though more to the point Dean, why are you doing this on Fathers day?


  13. No, learners have not changed, we assume they have because how they/we learn looks different. Learning is simply a change in knowledge, understanding, skills, values, or preferences (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning).

    Because you asked such a narrow question my answer to it is simply no, that is all!

    But in saying that will you learn from asking that question and potentially change your “knowledge, understanding, skills, values, or preferences”? And will you assume that then you as a learner has changed how you learnt then use this assumption to reinforce a misunderstanding of what learning is and how we learn. Or will you take this experience as an example of why we think learners have changed but in reality it’s who they learn from who has changed.

    But then, isn’t this how we learnt hundreds of years ago, from our family, community and peers? Hence should the question be “… changed back”. Why are we so scared of this change that we have to question it? Why when we changed from community sharing to central distribution many years ago didn’t anyone ask the question “Have Learners Changed”?.

    But now I’m just messing with your head, happy father days!

  14. In response to your question “Have learners changed?” – seems as though they might have – well at least this is true for a group of computer scientists in Sweden.
    Came across an interesting longitudinal study this afternoon – the study looks at a group of computer scientists over a period of 20years to elucidate information behaviour changes from a socio-cultural perspective. The emphasis was on careers, information seeking and personal networks.The overall conclusion was that the information behaviour of the researchers in this group was firmly rooted in social and professional practices that are very different today compared to 1987. Here is the link to research article – http://bit.ly/bOmezD

      • I do not think the willing learner has changed, but the manner in which they find their information and interact with it has.

        For many of our students now, there seems to be less imperative to learn than in the past. We are an affluent society, with all that brings. There has also been an attitudinal shift, whereby learning is not because of “have to” but because of “want to”. I do not think the majority of our systems have understood that change.

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