Tools to assist learning are , of course, only one part of the picture. More important are the skills these tools are needed to support. Clearly, not all skills will require the tools of technology and in some cases only the simplest of support would be required to encourage development of these skills. In other words, care needs to be taken to not see technology as central to learning, but as a useful support when needed. Technology can be a big help, or perhaps only a minor help and in some cases of little help at all. Still, in most cases some aspect of technology can be seen as helpful.
The advantage is that this is an age of technological abundance. To that end, it is important to know what is available in the way of technology and what will become available in the future and find ways to assess and evaluate it as to its demonstrable worth as a learning tool.
So, while the tools are a factor, the skills are the main focus. The key question, then, is what skills are required for survival in the 21st century. That may sound a bit more dramatic than it is meant to be, but exponential scientific advancement is driving societal change. The skills and knowledge that were satisfactory in the twentieth century will not be enough to live successfully in the twenty-first.
Going forward into the twenty=first century everyone will need to develop the skills to deal with the overwhelming and ever growing quantity of information that will come at them. The skill to refine and filter that information to fit the individual’s needs will be essential. For those with special needs, for our elders, for those with physical and mental health needs, the 21st century goal is independence.
From the perspective of the beginnings of this new century, one of the obvious observations has to be that many of the social safety nets that arose in the last century are presently in flux as financial guarantees are becoming much more difficult to make. What this will ultimately mean in the long haul remains to be seen, but in this uncertainty, the one thing that becomes apparent is that people, no matter what their needs, have to become more independent. Our elders have to find ways to be able to live out their lives in their own homes. Those who are physically and mentally disadvantaged will likewise need to grow their independence, to be able to live and function to the very best of their abilities.