Have you ever seen the “Kids React to Technology” Youtube video series? A narrator gives kids a rotary phone or a walkman or an old computer, and the kids need to figure out what it is and how to use it. I relate to these videos so much more than my girls do.They just sit there wondering “what’s so funny?”…since they don’t know what the items are either.
(I’ll show you an episode at the end of this post. But promise you won't watch until after you read this, or else you will get sucked into YouTube land and I’ll never see you again.)
But, even without watching the Youtube, I’m sure you’ll agree that technology has come a long way in our lifetime. And it changes fast…too fast for us adults to keep up with sometimes. But, guess what? Our kids are more immune to the technology changes because they don’t know any different.
What homeschoolers nowadays don't know is life without the Internet.
They don’t know rotary phones. They don’t know cassette tapes. They don’t know 20-volume encyclopedias.They don’t know a world where knowledge isn’t just a click away. And because they haven't been educated pre-Information Age, our kids don't know how to learn like past generations did.
And guess what..that is OK. In fact, it is better for them. Today’s learners are better educated than previous generations. I don’t mean that they have more knowledge and maturity. I mean that they are smarter about HOW they learn.
It is crucial that we understand the needs of digital learners, so that we can educate our kids in a way that truly benefits them. But, what are the needs of today's digital learners?
Digital learners need a learning guide, not an instructor.
Instead of feeding information to our children, we need to let them discover it themselves. They know where to find the information, but they need guidance in how to process the information. They need to learn how to consider the large amounts of information available to them and discern truth from untruth.
Digital learners need a challenge.
They learn best by solving problems, using trial and error as they grow in knowledge. Rote learning and memorization doesn’t cut it anymore.Today’s learners want to know that what they learn is relevant and will benefit them in the future.
Digital learners need opportunities to take responsibility for their own education.
Since they know how and where to find information, today’s learners demonstrate more responsibility for their education. They no longer wait for someone to tell them how to do something. Instead, they take initiative to seek out knowledge, learning on their own.
Digital learners need to apply what they learn.
21st century learners are both “consumer” and “creator”. They want to do something with the information they take in, whether it be creating a playlist, editing a photo or producing a video. They put their knowledge into action and share their creations with the world.
Digital learners need integrated learning opportunities.
Today’s learners can’t help but notice that knowledge is inherently integrated. Integrated means “combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole” (Dictionary.com) Topics of study cannot be organized into subjects like education of the past. Digital learners expect and respond best to integrated, not segmented, education.
Tell me, how are you meeting the needs of your digital learners? Are you guiding them with integrated learning opportunities, presenting them with challenges and allowing them to apply what they have learned? Let’s chat about it. Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.
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