At the start of ISTE12 I tossed out a concept through twitter that was discussed in the School CIO conference preceding ISTE. I proposed that we should retire "21st Century Learning" and start calling it "Learning". It has caused quite a discussion in twitter and I have had some great intellectual exchanges over it. I wanted to take this venue as a place to put my thoughts on the concept together.
Here is the general idea: words matter
All of the discussion on PLC's show us that a common vocabulary means something when working with groups of people. Over the course of the past 15 years 21st Century Learning has developed as a term to prepare educators for what was coming when technology became a common and essential part of society, children, families, and learning.
So let's just admit what happened. The 21st Century came and we were not ready. Some screamed for change and some resisted - others just rode the wave. The 21st Century started a dozen years ago and technology is here. In the ISTE12 keynote we heard that the number of cellphones will soon outnumber people on this planet. Accessibly to technology, while still lacking in many areas, is becoming more pervasive across the world. Slowly the peaks and valleys of technology access will erode and the world will truly be flat. But for this conversation, that doesn't matter. What matters is the Internet changed the way that the world communicates, accesses information, and shares information, some of the key components of learning, and has led to a new way the world learns to change.
21st Century learning is here, it isn't going away, so let's just call it "learning". We are all starting to understand what good teaching and learning looks like. We can quantify the science and qualify the art - and can see when students succeed and when they do not (we just have to be willing to look). Teachers that ignore the change that has already happened will face increasing pressures to change or leave the profession. Let's just call it learning. We know many of the basic building blocks of learning, and some of these involve the use of resources (including technology). Let's recognize those teachers that create excellent learning environments and experiences and celebrate their accomplishments in promoting LEARNING in this century, the last, or any into the future.