Rationale and Neo-Millenial Learning Styles

Educators, business people and professional organization leaders all agree that in order to be effective and productive contributors to American society, 21st century students need to be competent in core skills and they must possess media, global and environmental Literacy. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a project of the United States Department of Education in conjunction with business entities including Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Walt Disney, Verizon, Scholastic, Sesame Street and many others proclaims that 21st Century Learners need to be “critical thinkers , problem solvers,  good communicators, good collaborators, innovative and creative, tech-literate, flexible and adaptable, globally competent and,  environmentally literate.”

The Asia Society points to the essential role of media literacy if our students are to develop an authentic sense of global awareness and an understanding of their peers across geographical borders. Given that access to the Internet has made it easier for students to use websites, voice tools and social media, there is no reason for them not to make personal connections and have real-world dialogue on questions that concern them and their world, such as intercultural understanding, similarities and differences, common solutions to common problems and more. For language educators, these global conversations can mean more time on task and the added bonus of increased language proficiency to complement media literacy.
Source: “Five Ways to Use Technology and Digital Media for Global Learning” retrieved from the Asia Society website

The age of ubiquitous computing is here. Young learners are expert users of handheld electronic devices that they use to keep themselves connected- twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Whether they use these devices to snap pictures or to produce videos to upload on YouTube, they capture life as it happens. Their phones tell them what movie is playing where, tell them through GPS how to get to the closest theater and allow them to “text” a friend who might accompany them. All kinds of decisions from the trivial to the essential can be handled, as long as these devices hold a charge. Educators need to think about the effect that this anytime/anywhere access to information is having on our learners. The use of technology is becoming second nature to them, so much so that Harvard and MIT researchers are showing that it is affecting their learning styles. (Dieterle, Dede, Schrier, 2007)

As language educators we have to ask ourselves how we can harness the power of these technologies to encourage our students to learn languages.