The traditional approach to learning involves teacher centered instruction where students learn through listening and observation. It pays little or no attention to social development and focuses largely on independent learning. Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach (Prensky 2001). We now need to consider alternate approaches to education. The ideal 21st century classroom involves learner centered instruction and significant attention to social development including; teamwork, interpersonal relationships and self awareness. ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’ (Alvin Toffler) Three changes that are evident in the 21st century learner are that they are learner-centered, data-rich and adaptable. Firstly, the learners of the 21st century learner centered. They are active learners compared to the 20th century passive learners. ‘People learn. Learning is fundamental to human beings. It is the specialization that we use to become fully human.’ (Fischer and Immordino-Yang, 2008 p.xviii) With the learner centered teaching approach, teachers plan, teach and assess around the needs of students. Students no longer have interests in the passive learning environment they want to play an active role in learning. According to the well known theorist John Dewey ‘education and learning are social and interactive processes, and thus the school itself is a social institution through which social reform can and should take place.’ He also believed that ‘students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning.’ Students learn more if they are able to participate in the learning process. Annand (2007) asserts that ‘technology can enable learning to be increasingly “autonomous and self-directed.” Students can be more productive and more in control as they can now fast-forward, rewind, pause, stop and review materials at their own pace.’ In these modern days, learner centered teaching lies at the core of any effective classroom. It caters to the educational needs of every child’s learning style if planned effectively hence everyone should have an equal opportunity to be successful. When students are a part of their learning it serves as a motivation to them and they have more interest in learning. “Weimer (2002) described five learner-centered practice areas that need to change to achieve learner-centered teaching. They are: 1. The functions of the content in learner-centered teaching which includes building a strong knowledge foundation and to develop learning skills and learner self-awareness.
2. The roles of the instructor should focus on student learning. The roles are facilitative rather than didactic.
3. The responsibility for learning shifts from the instructor to the students. The instructor creates learning environments that motivate students to accept responsibility for learning.
4. The processes and purposes of assessment shift from only assigning grades to include constructive feedback and to assist with improvement. Learner-centered teaching uses assessment as a part of the learning process.
5. The balance of power shifts so that the instructor shares some decisions about the class with the students such that the instructor and the students collaborate on class policies and procedures.” In everything there is good and there is bad. One disadvantage of student centered learning is that not all students relate well to student centered learning. In some cases they are required to work in groups and not all students are comfortable with that. However, the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages. The second change I will discuss is that the learners of the 21st century are adaptable, they are open to...
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