The Characteristics of 21st Century Learners
Responding to the globalization era, schools need to expand what the schools are teaching to keep pace with the demands of our modern workforce and societal needs. This is in line with Spencer’s (2010:1) enlightenment that the world is less static, collaboration is vital, and learning is a continual process. The environment in which students are exposed to is media rich, immediate, fast, engaging, dynamic and instant. Therefore, teachers should be able to enable their students to acquire skills needed in this current century. Teachers should not only focus on teaching the materials required as stated in the curriculum, but they also should complement the students with living skills.
Furthermore, to meet the needs in globalization era, students have to acquire 21st century skills. By having 21st century skills, the students can be at the level to become creative, inquisitive, reflective, collaborative, efficient, flexible, tenacious, and open-minded, and in turn, they can be effective learners, collaborators, communicators, and creators. Students who already have and or are equipped by 21st century skills are more prepared to align with the shift in how students learn, how people get jobs, and how everything works in this era. Teachers, therefore, should have ability to integrate 21st century skills into core academic subjects.
Rodgers, et. al. (2006) elucidate that a 21st century learners tend to be a multi-taskers who use sounds and images to convey contents whenever possible. Students tend to learn better as they receive multi-learning stimuli. Therefore, the written learning materials need to be accompanied with visual and sound materials. Rodgers, et. al. (2006), then, also adds that the hypertext minds of 21st century learners crave interactivity, are good at reading visual images, have strong visual-spatial skills, tend toward parallel processing and inductive discovery, look for fast response times which leads to short attention spans. Expands in technology in this century render students tending to be multi-modalities learners.
Moreover, 21st century learners have to have higher order thinking, they have to be collaborating, creating, critical thinking, contributing, conversing, and connecting. Hart, P. D. (2007) mentions some of 21st century skills that should be acquired by 21st century learners, those are: critical thinking and problem-solving skills, computer and technology skills, and communication and self-direction skills. In this regard, students should be engaged in a relevant and contextual problem- and project-based learning designed to develop 21st century skills and provided using a multi-disciplinary approach.