K-12 Education in the Digital Age
Recognizing the Needs of Learners, Educators, and Parents

Assignment Number 2

Submitted to Allister Dyke

Submitted by Leslie Davis

In partial fulfillment of Education 6426
For the degree of Master of Education – Informational Technology

Memorial University of Newfoundland 

St. John’s, NL 

            The revolution is well underway and it is, quite literally, in the hands of the young.  With iPods, smartphones, tablets, netbooks, notebooks and desktops, the Net Generation is continually connected to the world.  This is the 21st century and those involved in education must start to reshape the concept of instruction and learning if the young are to inherit a system that is viable, relevant, and progressive.  

            Across the globe, an education proclamation for 21st century skills and attributes has emerged as an evolving mandate that not only builds upon the learning theories of the past but also declares that the act of learning is, in itself, a major component of education (Fig. 1).  The 2010 report of the Premier’s Technology Council in B.C. begins with the claim that “The fabric of a knowledge-based society is built around individuals with the ability to use information and continuously adapt to a rapidly changing globe” (p. 1).  Such policy makers envision the integration of technology and media as the call to arms for a workforce becoming more dependent on information systems in an increasingly competitive global market. 

            For teachers, however, technology and media is simply becoming the reality of their students’ frame of thinking.  The advent of New Internet Usage (Web 2.0) tools will enable forward-looking educators to realize how digital literacy1 can empower their students to meet the ideals of the 21st century mandate (Vid.1).  Subsequently, teachers must not only integrate technology into their instructional plans, but they must create new learning spaces, relinquish control over access to content, and let the students take the lead in building their own connections to information and producing their own knowledge. 

            With increasingly sophisticated synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, as well as a changing concept of what actually constitutes face-to-face (F2F) interactions, the youth of today naturally multi-task their way through each day without much thought or intent.  It is important to understand how, as Ito remarks, “…the learning outside of school [the informal learning space] matters tremendously for the learning in school [the formal learning space]” and how the changing roles of the student, the teacher, and the parent must result in actively linking the two together (as cited in MacArthur Foundation, 2010). Existing education systems, therefore, must examine a new approach to learning and how to embrace the integration of technology in order to meet the needs of a wide range of students from K-12 education and beyond.

1  The Premier’s Technology Council, in their 2010 report, quotes the website Media Smarts: “Generally speaking, international definitions of digital literacy   

     include the following principles: ‘the skills and knowledge to use a variety of digital media software applications and hardware devices, such as a 

     computer, a mobile phone, and Internet technology; the ability to critically understand digital media content and applications; and the knowledge and 

     capacity to create with digital technology.’ (p. 35)

Video 1. 

21st Century learners are multi-faceted in their outlook and attitudes.  They are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the use of tools and skills that are required for accessing, connecting and producing knowledge. It is also important to see technology as a tool of choice, not just of necessity, and that increased digital literacy does not mean the loss of F2F interaction or human engagement.  The role of teachers and schools is changing from purveyors of knowledge to guides for discovery, facilitators for reflection, and mentors for sense-making.

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