21st century learning – a students’ perspective

In this second post about 21st century learning and museums it seems appropriate to hear from learners themselves – i.e. students from the Coalition of Knowledge Building Schools, a loose network of schools across the greater Sydney region who work with universities, industry and cultural institutions to solve problems and undertake research.

At the Coalition’s 2013 Annual Conference in November, we heard from a range of students reporting back from their peers about what they think 21st century learning looks like. Here’s some of what they said.

The nature of education:

  • education has always been changing – yet staying the same, for example we will still be covering basic subjects in the syllabus
  • social roles in education have changed – classes and teaching are now ‘gender neutral’
  • the ‘Imperialist culture’ is no longer the dominant force in providing information
  • having an education is still highly valued – school is still used as an important place to develop life skills
  • the school environment is still same – we have classrooms, uniforms and the teacher is a respected role model
  • education today is more applicable to everyday life
  • the kind of critical thinking will change – for example we won’t need to solve maths problems anymore but social subjects and citizenship will become more important
  • plagiarism could be more of a problem
  • we will value memorisation less
  • there is a more positive culture of learning with students taking more responsibility for their learning and enjoying it
  • there is a need to integrate learning and education with the world in which we live


  • new technologies provides students with new ways of learning and breaks down perceived ‘borders’
  • as technology changes education will change
  • it is easier to find answers to questions – technology enables more broad research
  • use of social media means that face-to-face communication will change as more of our conversations take place online
  • as people switch from note taking to using the latest tablet or other device will the skill of handwriting become insignificant and typing now the key skill?
  • mobile is everywhere – this means we have everything readily available

What is amazing about these ideas is that they have come from the students themselves, who are truly what Prensky (2001) termed “digital natives”.

I’ll finish with two of my favourite quotes from the day:

  • Now we can just look things up on our iPads: this allows us to be independent learners and collaborate with our peers.
  • In the olden days they had to write by hand [but for future learning] they will make a copy and paste pen so you don’t have to write anything.

Lots to think about!


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