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21st Century Learning Styles
This lesson suggests that the most important 21st Century Learning Style to emerge is a "Networked Learning." The 21st Century offers more opportunities to embrace more learning styles than ever before.

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Ira Gorelick

First Published

June 24, 2020

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Our 21st-century learning styles are significantly different than at any time in the past.

That does not mean we throw out the old styles. What it means is we evolve the old styles to fit the new world of digital technology.

The old style worked for thousands of years. And it works well enough to help us thrive.


21st Century Learners Can Be:

  • distracted
  • overwhelmed
  • impatient.

Research shows, and it makes sense, that teachers now have between 5 and 10 seconds to grab learners’ attention.

We probably have only about 1% of our time to focus on learning and development in the traditional sense. (The key being “traditional sense.” )

In the old days, you would either go to a teacher directly (schools) or go to books (libraries). Both those resources were limited. If you took a book from the shelf, no one else could get that learning at that time. Or if the teacher was far away, you could not physically get to them.

Because of this, some definite preferences have emerged for the modern learner.

Untethered.

Workers work from everywhere – plants, planes, cars, airports. Workers want to be able to learn from these places as well.

On-demand.

Learners have a preference for learning in-the-moment, when they need the info. Google gets accessed much more than online courses. People are increasingly turning to smartphones to get answers to questions.

Collaborative.

Developing and accessing networks is becoming more important. Sometimes more important than the knowledge itself when it comes to doing a job.

Empowered.

The half-life for a lot of the 21st Century skills we need to thrive is now between 2.5 to 5 years. To stay relevant we need to be continuously learning.

In fact, 62% of IT professionals say that they have spent their own money on outside courses to learn skills for their job.


Why is this?

A new mode of organization—a “network of teams” with a high degree of empowerment, strong communication, and rapid information flow—is now sweeping businesses and governments around the world.

The growth of the Millennial demographic, the diversity of global teams, and the need to innovate and work more closely with customers are driving new organizational flexibility among high-performing companies.

They are operating as a network of teams alongside traditional structures, with people moving from team to team rather than remaining in static formal configurations.


Two major factors are driving change.

  • Small teams can deliver results faster, engage people better, and stay closer to their mission.
  • The digital revolution helps teams stay aligned.

Today, teams use web or mobile apps to share goals, keep up to date on customer interactions, communicate product quality or brand issues, and build a common culture.

What’s needed?

The days of the top-down hierarchical organization are slowly coming to an end, but changing the organization chart is only a small part of the transition to the network of teams.

Now, more than ever is the time to challenge traditional organizational structures, empower teams, hold people accountable, and focus on building a culture of shared information, shared vision, and shared direction.

Using work for learning.

21st Century Learners are looking for opportunities where work already provides developmental experiences.

One study asked about 40 different technologies and methods for learning to see which were impactful.

It turns out that the only group that showed a positive, significant relationship with business and learner experience outcomes were these 10 as showed that high-performing organizations are using 21st Century Learning tools much more than their lower-performing counterparts.

21st Century Skills

Capabilities required for digital are different from today’s learning org capabilities

  • Predictive and advanced analytics
  • Data analysis/visualization
  • Information/knowledge management
  • Website management
  • Marketing
  • Business alignment/acumen
  • Design thinking
  • Strategic thinking
  • Project management
  • Knowledge of technologies
  • Product management
  • Creative thinking
  • Visual / Process design
  • Multimedia / Graphics design
    Information design
  • Logical structuring
  • Software programming
    App design/development
  • Gamification / game-based design
  • Software programming

5 Information ages