characteristics of 21st century learners

Characteristics of 21st Century Learners

The purpose of education is to prepare the next generation. We want them to be productive and good members of our communities. So as the world evolves, our education system must follow suit to ensure we are preparing our kids for life within it. 

In the busy and bustling 21st century our basic systems are transforming at a pace never seen before. The way we access and spread information, our work habits, methods of socializing, and much more have been revolutionized by the increasing sophistication of technology. As modern educators, it is more vital than ever that you are providing your students with the tools to tackle this tech-rich environment and thrive within it. 

So what are the key characteristics of 21st-century learners and how can you create an environment that will equip them with the necessary skills to succeed?




What are the key characteristics of 21st-century learners?


Global citizens

Social media usage and access to the web has made students more aware of their place in a diverse world. They are involved in conversations and issues that need to be tackled on a global scale. For example, health concerns, environmental protection, and economic growth. 

Encouraging this mindset across all subjects will help prepare students for the rapidly globalizing economy and the growing need for worldwide collaboration. Classes that introduce new ideas, different cultures and lifestyles will open up discussions and get your students engaging with the rich variety within the world. 

You can also take it a step further and develop some of the skills needed to interact with people from various different cultural and linguistic origins. Remember that the ultimate aim is to create internationally-minded citizens, who are considerate of other cultures, nations, and lifestyles. Effectively collaborating with a variety of people from different backgrounds will help our communities to thrive. 



Thinking creatively 

In an age of accessible media, streaming and even Instagram, creativity is more available than ever before – as are the tool to engage in creative pursuits. Similarly, we have entered an economy where innovation and disruption of the norm rule supreme. A world where a few Harvard students can disrupt the entire digital comms system armed with only an idea and a laptop and roommates in a need of a few extra bucks created a platform that put the whole hotel industry on its toes. Facebook and Airbnb may be extreme examples, but a new age of digital flexibility is putting big thinking and creativity at the forefront.

Students need to be supported in their ability to develop creative solutions to everyday problems and engage with the artistic tools at their fingertips. In the typical classroom, this means moving past techniques of route learning and rule-following instead of looking towards discovery, analysis, and innovation. Thinking outside the box is something that this generation is uniquely well-positioned to do, we need to help them grab the opportunity with both hands. 



Thinking critically

Knowledge is power, but in the age of the world wide web determining what’s useful and what’s not, is a skill in itself. When information of any sort is merely a click away, young people need the ability to think critically about what they are reading and decide how and why they agree or disagree. 

Critical thinking skills will also be essential in the future work environment where constant tech change will require fast adaptation. Students need to have the ability to make connections between arguments and knowledge sources. Interpreting this information and drawing intelligent conclusions will allow them to reflect critically on processes and create better experiences. 

Developing an environment where students are required to analyze and think deeply about sources, explain opinions and relate them to other works will equip them for the information age. 


Communicates and collaborates with others

Humans are social creatures and communication has always been key to our survival. With increasing globalization and the need for remote collaboration, this essential part of our makeup is just, if not more important. 

Students access to social media and other communication platforms have primed them to engage with people of different opinions, expectations and cultures. As educators, we need to cultivate these skills. Pupils need to learn to respect each other’s differences and use their different personalities to collectively solve problems and create original ideas. Using apps and devices which encourage collaborative work can help to engage these traits in students and make your classroom a more cooperative place. 



Digital literacy

Technology is at the heart of just about all workplaces the majority of industries and economic spheres. The next generation, digital natives though they may be, need to be equipped with the skills to navigate the digital world. Incorporating technology into the classroom and encouraging the development of skills such as coding and data analysis can help students to really get a grip of the devices they will need to expertly wield in the future. 


A 21st century learning environment


Given the set of skills above, as modern-day educators, we now have a daunting task ahead of us. How do we modify our courses to help the students further their skills? Education today is more than just giving lessons and assignments. It is now a two-way process where both the student and the teacher learn from each other side by side. A lot of resources are available to help achieve this goal. What’s important is that we remain focused and push through our desire to make this world a better place, starting with the people who live in it.

At Kami, we believe that the right digital tools are now an essential part of maximizing learning and unleashing the 21st century student’s potential. Learn more about how our leading annotation app could boost your pupil’s skills here.

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