A Modern ‘Who Came First’ Debate

When modern learning is in your job title it’s bound to come up as a topic of discussion. It’s interesting in my travels to see how we each interpret the wording slightly differently. Is modern learning technology? Can you have modern learning without technology? What is the relationship?

I sat down to try to sketch out the relationship with some colleagues and it suddenly came to me.

Modern learning is not about technology BUT you can’t have modern learning without technology.

Modern learning is not about the tool. It is about a set of global competencies that is needed to be successful in an ever changing workforce. I struggle even writing workforce because I think it’s so much more. The global competencies are about us finding our place in our communities and contributing. It’s about ‘arc of life learning’ as John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas mentioned a few years back. It’s about creativity, innovation, problem solving, collaboration, self-directed learning skills and so much more.

BUT (and it’s a big one), I find it hard to believe you can have modern learning without capitalizing on the digital tools we have at our disposal. I think our idea of learning through technology is stuck in the computer lab phase with each learner staring blankly, typing away on their keyboards. These digital tools have evolved to seep into every part of our lives (evidence: digital fridges and self replenishing shopping lists). Not capitalizing on their power to help us access content in new ways as well as find avenues to better communicate and connect would be a disservice to our modern learners.

Maybe unlike tools of the past it can play different roles at different times.

  • Sometimes it’s the lead, front and centre. We see the robots, coding games, filming.
  • Other times it’s a supporting player, helping us capture our observations as educators; connecting us to a provocation that sparks learners’ curiosity.
  • At then again sometimes it’s behind the scenes. We think we are doing it alone but the idea came to us via a tweet, curated on a Pinterest board or even just a chain reaction from a colleague that was in one of those spaces.

Paper.Fall 2018.37 2

So yes modern learning is not about technology but accepting that technology is a necessary, ever present tool for modern learning may help us push forward to explore  how best to leverage the tools to empower modern learners.

What do you feel is the relationship between modern learning and technology? Love to hear your thoughts.

5 Replies to “A Modern ‘Who Came First’ Debate”

  1. I am curious about how you define modern learning. You state that it is found in job titles but I am not sure what components of learning that is done today are modern compared to learning done 10 or 20 years ago. Defining these differences would help me towards understanding your case as to why technology is mandatory for modern learning to occur.

    1. That’s a big question and folks like Will Richardson probably articulate it better than I do. In many ways I feel modern learning is what great teachers have always done (student ownership, inquiry, relationships, environment) but necessary and possible for all now. Our vision for our school district probably articulates my ideas best bit.ly/peelEML

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