Competences and Learning Profiles of Digital Age's Students

Competences and Learning Profiles of Digital Age's Students

Ana Loureiro (Polytechnic Institute of Santarém, Portugal & University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Inês Messias (Universidade Aberta, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3417-4.ch101
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Abstract

In the connected world we live in today, people no longer look for information only in formal places. Internet has become a place of choice to gather information. Social networks have grown from places for socialization to platforms where knowledge is created and shared, where connectivity and collaboration are natural. Many people look at the web as a place for learning, using it to create a network which allows them to gather, select, share, reshape ideas and create knowledge to then replicate on social networks. Students' learning profile is becoming more proactive in the search for information and constructing valid knowledge. The demands of the information age raise the necessity of students to acquire different skills and competences – 21st century skills. This chapter aims to present the different students' learning profiles and the type of learning environments available online.
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Background

Students need to acquire certain skills and competences, specific of a digital and connected society in order to effectively benefit from e-government, e-learning and e-health services, and participate actively in the knowledge society as co-creators, and not simply consumers, as highlighted by the European e-skills strategy (McCormack, 2010). To only possess hard skills (that comes with experience and formal education) may not be enough to get a job. Besides e-skills and e-literacy competences, soft and social skills are also a demand. These skills and competences can be practiced and enhanced in virtual environments - which are by nature social and collaborative spaces. Students have access to virtual worlds with role-play and simulations, social networks and a wide range of web 2.0 tools, which allow them to practice and develop some of these skills and competences. In an e-learning format, which normally means to study at a distance of ‘brick and mortar’ tertiary institutions, e-skills are a demand. And in spite of what one might think, to learn at a distance is not by itself a synonymous of being isolated from the world; on the contrary, to be able to socialize and communicate is crucial, so that the student can maintain motivated, and also so that he can take advantage of collaborative tools to create and share knowledge. Therefore the acquisition of soft and social skills are mandatory.

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