Preparing Learning Communities for 21ST CENTURY
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Preparing Learning Communities for 21ST CENTURY

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Rohan Ganeriwala
Co-founder, Collegify, shares his views on the opportunities digitisation presents in education, and the need to prepare the teacher and the learner for 21st century challenges

The 21st century presents an exciting array of limitless opportunities for both the teacher and the taught. Welcome to the knowledge-driven world, where the key to success is inextricably linked to the spread of Information Literacy and subsequent establishment of knowledge banks. Teachers, needless to say, ought to be able to mould their students for accessing information through various electronic and print sources optimally, in evaluating information critically and applying the same, with precision and originality.

In the demanding knowledge-based economy, teachers should also inculcate in their students the drive towards seeking knowledge based on well-researched and validated information. In other words, beyond gaining understanding of existing facts, students should also develop simultaneously, the capacity to rise above the mundane, and instead aim towards innovation rather than replication of existing ideas.

Media and Information & Communications Technology (ICT), propelled by the Internet, have a pivotal role to play in the dissemination of learning. Teachers should be adept in using multiple media, such as text, video, audio and animation, to facilitate effective teaching and learning. Advancement in digital technologies has integrated multiple media using graphical and interactive interfaces. This necessitates new literacies and terminologies to decipher, interpret and communicate using visual imagery such as icons, along with interactive modes, such as the technology applied in touch-screen smart phones and interactive smart-boards. Multicultural literacy effectively amalgamates the domains of culture and languages, as well as the ways in which multi-sensory data (text, sound and graphics) integrate language, subject matter and visual content.

As teachers today reside in diverse societies and teach in myriad settings, multicultural literacy presents a dynamic, meta-framework with the potential for integration across curricula and geographical borders. In the 21st-century learning environment, teachers must be able to support learning communities that empower students to network, collaborate, share best practices and seamlessly integrate new-age skills into the classroom. This, in turn, will enable students to learn ‘exponentially’ in relevant, real-world contexts (e.g., through project-based or applied work).

Teachers should also be able to provide access to state-of-the-art learning tools, technologies and resources, thereby expanding the learning environment to community and international settings, both face-to-face as well as virtually. The 21st-century curriculum research demonstrates that effective pedagogy in the 21st century needs to take on a symbiotic stand, reaching out to learners, and enabling them understand how to access, absorb and synthesise information. The aim is to provide a plethora of opportunities for the application of these skills across a global dashboard of content areas and for a competency-based strategy to learning.

Today, teaching and learning in a world without borders presents both challenges and rewards – education is empowerment in the truest sense, and the deeper it penetrates, the faster will a more equal and harmonious global society emerge. It is time we apply technology to bridge gaps in an otherwise highly fractured world.

It is time we unleashed change.

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