Teaching in a digital world: Lifelong learning in the digital age
Until recently the concept of lifelong learning has been a formal way of pursing knowledge via direct learning (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013). The learning has occurred through family, teachers and peers or via student-learning from newspaper articles, books or magazines (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013). As the world becomes dependent on digital technologies (such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets) it is inevitable that life long learning will adapt to meet the changes in communication, collaboration, and gathering and receiving information. Teachers can engage digital technologies in the classroom to continue to assist students to be life long learners.
Daphne Koller (2012) reflects on how learning via digital technologies can benefit learners as per the TED presentation. The Koller (2012) video highlights how the availability of online learning resources allows learners to break away from a standard class room learning style, allows short and clear topic learning areas as well as a personalised curriculum to enable people to learn in their own time (Koller, 2012). Online learning allows learners that may not have access to education due to location the ability to learn assuming they have access to Information Communication Technology (ICT). Koller (2012) and Howell (2014) note that online learning is different to standard class room direct learning environment in that students must be engaged on the topic or it is going to be no benefit for learning.
The discussion presented by Howell (2014) reflects on the Department of Education syllabus and Australian curriculum requirements as well as the importance of linking the basic skills learners require to participate in digital skills such as digital fluency and digital blurring. As teachers and students are “global citizens” (Howell, 2014), that is there are multiple ways in which the basic digital skills learnt are communicated, utilised, shared and expanded upon. As global citizens, knowledge can be learnt in our own time via the use of digital platforms which utilize online applications for sharing of information such as YouTube or Pinterest. Topics viewed through these online tools may also be used as additional teaching resources which assist learning things such as baking macarons, learning to sew, update software on mobile devices and keeping up with the latest fashions. These skills are all a form of lifelong learning in the digital age. Teachers can make use of the learning tools such as YouTube, Pinterest and News websites in order to engage students in learning.
Figure 1. Example of Pinterest pin on content used for baking macarons
Lifelong learning using tools such as YouTube can be utilized to meet the Australian Curriculum Science: Science as a Human Endeavour: Linear motion and waves content descriptor (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014, ACSPH055) by researching the use of hearing aids and relating how the technology in these is developed and how it relates to the field of human biology. Tucker (2012) states that “students cannot be passive observers if they are to learn 21st century skills; rather they must be challenged with real-life situations and problems” (p. 3). The opportunity for teachers to have students work collaboratively and hence be challenged whilst they “communicate effectively to find creative solutions” (Tucker, 2012, p. 3) ensure students have lifelong skills of “higher order thinking” (Finger et al., 2007, p. 208) thinking critically, problem solving and multi-tasking.
Lifelong learning in the digital age is becoming more and more of a prerequisite for numerous employees and hence if basic learning of Information Communication Technology (ICT) can be taught within schools, students are set at an advantage to pursue their lifelong careers. Lifelong learning within Australia by the use of digital technologies in the digital age of the 21st century is inevitable for learners with access to mobile phones, tables and attends a school which follows the Australian Curriculum (White, 2013). The numerous benefits of lifelong learning in Australia are supported by the Australian Government as well as a pre-requisite for success within the majority of career paths.