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Why should we care?

BY: Mubarak Abdessalami

            This generation Y is torn between the various entertainment sources and the need to take profit from school for future careers. They cannot find their path with all the distracting factors provided by multimedia, so most of them are taking the wrong misty way where fog gets thicker and thicker with every step they walk. They are almost nowhere and they seem to enjoy being there. They absolutely cannot define exactly what they really need and, even more perhaps, who they are. However we can not blame them alone for this intricate situation they are in struggling to understand and to be understood. The smartest among them are using these entertainment devices for cramming. Indifferent as we are, we all assume that technology has tremendously transformed the way this generation lives and views life

            That's why Ian Jukes refers to them as "screenagers". They are different because they can use these e-gadgets better than “digital immigrants” can. It is true that some of them use them just for entertainment, but the aware among them use technological devices as arbitrary constituents of their learning and discovering processes.

            Well! Surely it is insane to believe for a second that these students will learn anything outside this digital realm of information technology. Using the chalkboard in teaching them is just persecuting education and suffocating progress and eventually generating disturbed freaks who may not allow us to interfere with their coded virtual plans for a gloomy future.

            The point is that our teaching methods and tools should be modified and transformed accordingly. If we don’t, we’ll clash with the “losers” - those who use technology purely for entertainment- and we will lose the smarter among them. As a matter of fact, the teachers must cope with the evolution in the field of technology to be able to redirect them when needed. These “digital natives” need to go to a school which reflects their true daily lives and which allows them to meet their interests. A school void of e-materials is a cave for primitive tribes where this generation doesn't want to belong. As human beings of course, they are keen on learning new things and acquiring more experience and skills, but their sole condition is to provide them with the appropriate methods and tools they are used to in their daily life. What if they are forced to be taught in the same old environment where their grandparents used to study decades ago?!

            It is true that technology has defects, but we must be aware that we have no other options. The 21st century learners as well as we are already part of this complicated net of connections. Once we decide to reject the new wave, we make the worst decision ever. We can adapt for the sake of the learners and together we can tame technology to serve our noble goals the maximum. Teachers can show their students how not to be lead by the illusion of amusement they get from their e-gadgets, and use those tools as visual aids to redirect them towards the real sources and secrets of long life learning.

            The 21st century learners do not need information and knowledge to be transmitted to them, they can get whatever they need to know the easiest and the fastest way by means of search engines. Sometimes they don't even need to look for information because information comes up to them thanks to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) service. What the learners need the most is the way they can decide if a given collected piece of information is evidently authentic and how they can use it to form new meaning. And these are competencies and skills which make the whole of the new teacher's work. The latter becomes more a facilitator or mentor than a teacher. The kids she is dealing with are no longer in need of long lectures but they seek to answer the "how" and "why" questions rather than the "what" ones.

            No more instructions needed because these learners are learning through:

            In brief they have tendency to learn through doing. This active learning they are gradually adopting is leading automatically to constructivism as opposed to the old instruction-based methods of the past. This simply means that the 21st century learners are in need of new and practical collaborative pedagogical methods like Task-based approach.