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The Face of Today's Learner

Explores how students today learn: brain development, cultural interaction, behavioral modes

Kirsten Pylant

on 24 June 2013

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Transcript of The Face of Today's Learner

Where Do We Go From Here?
The Face of
Today's Learner

Daniel Pink
The Keynote Speaker at the GISA Conference, November 2012
San Francisco
(cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr
(cc) photo by Franco Folini on Flickr
(cc) photo by jimmyharris on Flickr
(cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr
They are loud!
They always seem
to have their own
ideas of how
to do something.
2 Main Ways of Defining Today's Learner:
2005 - "Engage Me
or Enrage Me"
Profile of
Today's Education:
photo frame
What do we know about today's students?
Isolation is worse
for them than death...
(7 years ago!)
Marc Prensky coined phrase "Digital Native"

Kip Leland, Los Angeles Virtual Academy,
"Today's kids are not ADD, they're EoE."
Same 3 types of learners as in '60's:
1. Truly self-motivated
2. Who go through the motions
3. Those who "tune us out"
Big Difference today:
"kids back then didn't expect to be engaged by everything they did...Many if not most of them never even knew what real engagement feels like. But today, all kids do. All the students we teach have something in their lives that's really engaging -- something that they do and that they are good at, something that has an engaging, creative component to it." Marc Prensky
Every day we risk providing
"yesterday's education for
tomorrow's kids."
It is not relevance that's lacking for this generation, it's engagement... Sure, today's video games have the best graphics ever, but kids' long-term engagment in a game depends much less on what they see than on what they do and learn. In gamer terms, "gameplay" trumps "eye-candy" any day of the week.
(It ain't going away, folks!!!)
1) Age & Generational
Attitudinal Differences
2) Use of technology
Five generations are alive, and for the first time in history four are in the workforce. And one of them is forcing a cultural shift on companies and managers. Which one is it??!!
Veterans (born 1925-1945) - due to economic hardship, they are disciplined and self-sacrificing

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) - had economic prosperity, strong nuclear families, value personal accomplishment, are workaholics

Generation X (born 1965-1979) - divorced parents, working mothers, resilient, independent, adaptable, "work to live, not live to work", move in and out of workforce to accomodate family needs

Generation Y (Millenials - born 1980-1995) - children of Boomers, who indulged them, have only known economic prosperity, did not anticipate unemployment; self-reliant, very social, large network of friends; not afraid of challenging managers (or teachers!) in the workplace (Boomers); work is a means to an end, a place, not an identity; can have it all, not embarrassed to ask for it; happy to job hop to get it

Generation Z (born 1996 onwards) - technology and internet have been a major defining influence in their lives
"Digital natives share a common global culture that is defined not by age, strictly, but by certain attributes and experiences related to how they interact with information technologies, information itself, one another, and other people and institutions. Those who were not "born digital" can be just as connected, if not more so, than their younger counterparts." Digital Native Project
a) Level of engagement
1. Readers (browse)
2. Participants (respond)
3. Creators (generate)

b) Frequency of engagement
c) Scale of engagement (tools used)
The Hyper-Linked Mind
Kids today look like us, but inside they are wired very differently. They've developed a "cultural brain" profoundly affected by digital culture...brains of today's children are changing physically and chemically. They are actually neurologically wired differently than we are.
21st Century Fluency Project
Brain Data:
New scanning technologies have proven old assumptions false
IQ is not fixed by early childhood - the brain continues to reorganize throughout life
Kids of the digital generation have developed "hyper-linked minds." Their brains process information in a parallel or simultaneous manner.
We are born with 50% of brain wiring in place - this covers critical functions like respiration and circulation. The other 50% happens after birth.
Neuroplasticity: the brains ability to rearrange current connections, prune unnecessary ones, and form new ones. It changes memory capacity, processing power, and actually re-grows neurons.
The brain's reorganization and adaptation is based on 1) input and experiences we have, and 2) the intensity and duration of the experiences.
The most heavily used neural connections become coated with myelin. These connections are 13 times faster and process 30 times more info per second. Visual memory, processing, and learning skills in particular are being enhanced.
University of Rochester has found that:

People remember content of over 2500 images with 90% accuracy several days later, even though they see picture for 10 seconds. After one year recall rate is 63%

Oral information, after 72 hours, has a 10% retention. Add an image, and retention goes up to 65%

The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. We are designed for visual/tactile learning.

30% of nerve cells in the brain are dedicated to sight, 8% to touch, and 3% to hearing

The digital generation eye-scan is different
Highly engaged at all levels
(Consumer, Participant, Creator)

On a regular (read: 24/7) basis

Wide experience with all
types of media tools

They work at "twitch speed"
Profile of
Today's Learner
Preferences include:
hyperlinked information from many sources

parallel processing, multi-tasking

interacting with others (this is key to their learning)

relevant information that can immediately be applied

real-time feedback, responsiveness, ideas from others
Learning Style:
highly visual learning, processing pictures, video, sounds rather than text

experiential learning, retaining discovery input over auditory input

independent learning, teaching themselves with guidance
No sector ignores its own research as much as education

If there is a truism in... education, it is that student activity increases learning. The case for moving from the teaching model of delivery to an active model of facilitating learning has been made frequently and convincingly, though apparently not persuasively.
Higher Learning Commission
Technology Engagement:
(due to neural connections)
(it's not wrong, it's just NTWWADI!)
Not only will our students have jobs that do not exist today, but the future they will be living...is already here!
Recommended Books on the Digital Generation:

iBrain by Gary Small and Gigi Vorgon
The Brain That Changes ITself by Norman Doidge
Everything Bad Is Good For You by Steven Johnson
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott
Rewired by Lary Rosen
Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology by Allen Collins & Richard Halverson
Works Cited
Hart, Jane. "Understanding Today's Learner." Learning Solutions. September 2008. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.

"Ian Jukes Quote" [video]. (2010). Retrieved Mar 12 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hLVfrdttHY.

Prensky, Marc. "Engage Me or Enrage Me." EDUCAUSEreview. September/October 2005: 4. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.

Taylor, Mark. "Teaching Generation NeXt: A Pedagogy for Today's Learners." A Collection of Papers on Self-Study and Institutional Improvement 26th Edition (2010): 192-6. 13 Mar. 2012.

"Understanding the Digital Generation: The New Connections." 21st Century Fluency Project. Web. 23 Mar. 2012.

4Atigers 21st Century Learners [video]. (2011). Retrieved Mar12 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh7Xn2LMZSY.

CMS Film Club. "Let's Digitize" [video]. (2010). Clayburn Middle School, Abbotsford, BC. Retrieved Mar 12 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_PvafoH4ss.
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