At this time education seems to be in the crosshairs. It seems that the formal educational system is under the political gun as stakeholders and the general public push at it to give more for less. More significantly, education is at a crossroads and the concern is how it will look as it moves towards the 22 century and beyond.
Regardless of any changes the formal system goes through, learning will and must go on and it must go on at a greater rate than it is today. Despite the fact that we are more than a decade into it, learning in the twenty-first century while fundamental will be evolving far more rapidly than ever before. It will take twenty-second century thinkers to conceive the changes in education and learning that will need to happen long before this century comes to an end. Given the exponential change that will be encountered over the next few decades, only a clear vision into the 22nd century will do. This is not because we need to prepare for the 22nd century so much, but rather that with the rapid rate of change in the world, what is perceived as 22nd century may arrive well ahead of the centenary.
With all of this scientific, and technological advancement and the subsequent information glut that comes with it, it is important to have some idea what learning is all about.
Learning is the calming pool in all this. People will need to learn to cope, to handle vast amounts of information, to relax and to have fun. 21sr century learning is about building the calming pool, using what is available today to prepare the learner to deal with what is to come. The concept of life–long learning is integral, for the changes that are coming will continue to come only faster and vaster. What is available to the learner will also change requiring a whole new set of learning needs to keep the calming pool effective.
Given this, it is clear that the 21st century learner is everyone from the toddler to the elder, from the able to the disabled. Within this totality, each will have his or her own specific learning needs and his or her own unique approaches to them. As some of these learning needs are delineated, it is important to look at the tools available for assisting with these so that they can, as Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise says, “Make it so.”
Short of the warp drive and transporter that disassembles someone or something and reassembles it somewhere else, and no doubt someone is working on that somewhere, Science has met or surpassed many of the futuristic and fantastical devices encountered across various generations of Star Trek from Kirk to Janeway and beyond. The holodeck and its virtual reality are near at hand, and what a great tool for learning that would be. The link between Science Fiction and Science is far from tenuous when one considers that if a technological idea can be conceived then it is often not that big a jump to development.
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