Catching a Hold of 21st Century Learning Trends

27 02 2013

Learning in the 21st century is not a cut and dry process that can be summed up in just a few words. 21st century learning is evolving, dynamic, engaging, and creative, just to name a few. From the young to the old, the learning process is no longer just confined to a classroom where the teacher stands in front of the chalkboard writing countless notes and in front of the students lecturing. Technology advancements have changed the way the learning process is carried out. 21st century learning trends now include smart devices, such as smartphones, smart televisions, smart tablets, social media etc. There was a time that technology was once limited in access to certain people who could afford the luxury. Today, however, it is now much more affordable for millions of people who can now take their learning on the go. How do we as individuals catch a hold of these 21st learning trends and make them work for us? My work over the past 8 weeks in Educ-6115 Learning Theories Instruction has shown me that I have to be willing to be informed and also open to going on a search to find the best tools to direct my learning experience.

What I found striking about the learning process during our weeks of researching and discussing is how rich our society is when it comes to learning opportunities. “People learn, continually, informally and formally, in many different settings: in workplaces, in families, through leisure activities, through community activities, and in political action” (Foley, 2004, p. 4). As we studied the learning theories of Behaviorism, Cognitive, Constructivism, Social Learning, Connectivism, and Adult Learning, I continued to see the connection between individuals and their environment. No matter what learning style or strategy we personally adopt, we still have to connect with others and interact with our environment in order to continue the human nature cycle of growing and relating in our society.

The course has deepened my knowledge of the personal learning process by helping me to understand the basic structure of each learning theory and the settings in which particular theories thrive. I have found that it is important first to understand my own personal learning process and motivation before I facilitate learning or training opportunities for others. “Before applying any model of learning in a classroom environment, we should first apply it to ourselves as educators and adult learners, for unless we have an experiential understanding of the theory and have personalized its content, we are unlikely to be committed to using it with students” (Armstrong, 2009, p. 20). Spending time exploring what type of learning styles are dominate for me will make me a much more effective facilitator. I will then be able to teach my learners how important it is for them to research and explore different learning strategies until they find what works for them.

At the center of learning theories, educational technology, and motivation is the learner and their connection with the environment and these concepts. Learning about Connectivism really brought this home for me. Davis, Edmunds, and Kelly-Bateman (2008) explain:

Just like anything else that involves human experience or interaction, the act of learning does not happen in a vacuum. It is at the intersection of prior knowledge, experience, perception, reality, comprehension, and flexibility that learning occurs. In years past, the traditional learning paradigms of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism have been the benchmarks against which the learning process has been measured. What happens, though, when you throw into the mix all the technological advancements that have come about over the last 40-50 years? These theories certainly do not become obsolete by any means, but they do need to be used in a very different way to be able to incorporate the attributes of a 21st century learning environment. In today’s technology-rich society, it has become increasingly important to learn how to learn. Vail put it simply by declaring that learning must be a way of being.

21st century technology has changed the way learning theories and motivation evolves outside of the standard face-to-face classroom. Facilitators need to be able to learn how to cultivate and nurture the connection between the 3 very important entities.

As a future instructional designer, this class has taught me that I need to make sure I am a facilitator of learning who is not afraid to address and evaluate my own learning deficiencies, remain knowledgeable of the latest technology trends, and be conscious that learning is not one size fits all. Teachers need to get used to facilitating and not instructing in the 21st century learning environment. “Rather than simply provide knowledge, teachers must take students’ pre-existing ideas into account when planning instruction and ensure that instruction includes motivation for learning” (Ormrod, Schunk, Gredler, 2009, p. 110). As a current AmeriCorps member working in the community facilitating budget, credit, and home buying workshops, I am seeing how prior knowledge plays a big role in the instruction planning. During the course of the 8 weeks, I have been sharing my newfound knowledge with the program manager. As a result, she allowed me to help work closely with her in revamping some of the curriculum, which now includes interactive case studies, activities, and videos that are more in line with adult learning.

I believe I have a great start in instructional design as a result of completing Learning Theories and Instruction. The course has taught me some great foundational knowledge that I will carry with me into all areas of my life. I am passionate about community outreach education and this course has been especially helpful to me in understanding how Constructivism, Social Learning, Connectivism and Adult Learning are important in this field and many others. According to Trask (2012), “Congress should update the Workforce Investment Act, which has not been reauthorized in 14 years. State and local governments need to support adult education and workforce training programs which will mean resisting making drastic cuts in these areas to balance budgets. Many adult education programs already have waiting lists and we, as a society, can’t afford to make the situation worse” (Huffington Post). As I continue to learn more about instructional design, I will continue to be advocates for adult learners as we catch a hold of 21st century learning trends.


Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Foley, G. (2004). Introduction: The state of adult education and learning. In Foley, G. (Ed.). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. Berkshire, GBR: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing.

Trask, R. (2012, September 26). How adult education can help close the skills gap. [blog message]. Retrieved from

Ormrod, J. Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.



5 responses

8 01 2014
Lee Ahonen

Hi Cheryl, I’m in your Distance Learning class and have subscribed to your blog. I look forward to reading your postings. Laurene

9 01 2014
Rachael Juliano

Hey Cheryl,

I am also in your class and look forward to following your blog! Good luck this course!

10 01 2014

Thanks Rachael! Looking forward to navigating the course together with you!

10 01 2014

Hi Cherly,
I hope you are doing very well.
I am following your blog in our distance learning class.
Elisa Flores

10 01 2014

Doing Well. Thanks Elisa!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: