Welcoming the age of e-learning

Academic Dale Spender has turned her attention from feminism and towards “new learning” and how education in the 21st century must adjust to the digital revolution.

Computers have changed the way we learn. The getting of wisdom is no longer a linear process, but a journey where information is forever transforming and where learning is a “trip” from one Web site to another.

The “survival skills of the past” – those of order, systematic processes and reliance on memory – are gone. While today’s parents learned by memorising information for exams, today’s students need a completely different skill set.

“Today’s students,” Spender argues, “need an education that encourages them to be independent, innovative and self-reliant — able to generate their own work and income.”

Digital technologies are enabling us to do creative things with information. With blogs and wikis, everyone can communicate. With RSS feeds, everyone can read about it. MySpace and FaceBook help us to connect with the world. Flickr helps to sort, store and share your snaps, while YouTube lets you show off your movie making talents. Tagging sites like Del.ici.ous enable us to share our favourite Web pages.

And as Spender points out, “When we set out to find a solution, it is not the right answers that we need to remember, but the right questions that we need to ask.”

More than 80 percent of Australians are in the information-making business creating something in the workplace that you can’t drop on your foot.

So we need to recognise that the skills that we developed aren’t going to be the same skills that the next generation of workers needs to survive and flourish in the digital age.

But how do we nurture those skills so that our next generation of workers can succeed?


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