Learning: a 21st Century Approach

Topics: Education, 21st century, Virtual learning environment Pages: 7 (1196 words) Published: June 24, 2009
Learning: A 21st Century Approach

Learning today is nothing like it was even ten years ago. Today’s learning techniques have evolved in unimaginable ways. One of the major changes in education is distance learning. Distance learning allows working adults to earn a degree with the greatest possible control over the time and pace of education. The internet has allowed both distance and classroom learners to reach their educational goals through online research, email, chat rooms, and instant messaging. All of this is not without negative consequences. Today’s students lack contact with their professors and peers which leads to loss of motivation. The world wide web has also brought up new ways of cheating. Students have access to purchasing other student’s papers and custom made term papers through the internet. This literature will attempt to identify the positive and negative affects of the 21st century learning environment.

Learning: A 21st Century ApproachType Title Here_Toc482436015 Distance learning plays a major role in our 21st Century learning environment. Distance learning is excellent for anyone trying to balance work, family, and an education. Distance learning provides a high degree of flexibility. The flexibility of online courses makes it possible for a person to complete a course or a degree which would be impossible for them to complete in a traditional classroom setting due to their work or family schedule (Galusha, 1998). Online courses are convenient for most undergraduate and graduate students who can now study when they want and they can finish writing and researching assignments based on their own personal schedules. Distance learning has opened up educational opportunities to people who thought that it would be impossible to achieve an education. Distance learning suggests that successful learning can take place even though the teacher and student are physically separated during the learning process (Galusha, 1998). “The teacher is no longer the sole source of knowledge but instead becomes a facilitator to support student learning, while the student actively participates in what and how knowledge is imparted. More than any other teaching method, distance learning requires a collaborative effort between student and teacher, unbounded by the traditional limits of time, space, and single-instructor effort” (Galusha, 1998, p. 2). Although distance education can be a great tool, it also has it’s setbacks. Many

people need personal attention from their professor in order to learn. With an

online education, it is not possible for someone to get the direct attention they may

need. Many students feel isolated and yearn to be a part of a school community. It is

impossible to meet new faces and make friends. These barriers can be lessened

through technological methods. “There is a body of evidence supporting the claim that

informal interactions in educational environments have positive effects on learning”

(Contreras-Castillo, Perez-Fragoso & Favela, 2006, p. 205). This informal interaction

can be in the form of instant messaging, chat rooms, and email. Through instant

messaging students are made aware that other students are connected to their course

at the same time as them and are able send brief messages back and forth. In online

chat students have real time interaction with two or more people through continuous

messages in the same window (Contreras-Castillo, Perez-Fragoso & Favela, 2006).

The most commonly used form of informal interaction is email. “Studies have suggested

that email use enables psycho-social, academic, and professional development and,

further, that it can support the important interaction between cognitive and non-cognitive

aspects of learning” (ChanMin, 2008). Email is widely used to facilitate classroom

activities such as the delivery of course related...

References: Brady, M. (2008). A '21st-Century education ': What does it mean? Education Week,
27(25), 27-29.
ChanMin, K. (2008, August 1). Using email to enable effective, efficient, and engaging
learning. Distance Education, 29(2), 187-198.
Contreras-Castillo, J., Perez-Fragoso, C., & Favela, J. (2006, December 1). Assessing the use of instant messaging in online learning environments. Interactive Learning Environments, 14(2), 205-218.
Galusha, J. (1998). Barriers to learning in distance education. Adult education, Mississippi (Education Resources Information Center).
Swift, C. (1998, June 1). Cheating, internet style: Guarding against on-line term paper
mills [Electronic version]. Marketing Education Review, 8(2), 19-27.
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