Youth and Contemporary Learning

Youth and Contemporary Learning

Gun-Marie Frånberg (Umeå University, Sweden), Elza Dunkels (Umeå University, Sweden) and Camilla Hällgren (Umeå University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-206-2.ch001
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Abstract

The aim of the chapter is to problematize the concept of learning and common views on transformed conditions for learning; have contemporary digital media reformed the processes of learning and if so, how can the educational system benefit from and exploit this? The chapter highlights changes and reflects on contemporary and future aspects of learning. What is seen as meaningful learning? Is learning more demanding today or does the open and abundant access to information simplify it?
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Societal Changes And Learning

Not only is the approach to education transforming but also the conditions of human society have changed profoundly. E.g. English sociologist Zygmunt Baumann (2003) explores the conditions and claims that we have moved from the solid stage of modernity to the liquid stage of modernity in the recent decades. The metaphor of liquidity is a demanding view and a challenging condition for contemporary society. For the first time in history, fluidity is a major logic for structuring human life, since ideas of instability and change are more prevalent than ever.

To picture living in a society under thorough transformation there might be a need for an extension of the classic change-analogy; that we are not able to step into the same river twice. Perhaps the continuously shifting structures of our everyday life are better compared to an online game, that deals with adaptation and power? Given the proposed fluid logic of societal structures, players and rules are shifting continuously and randomly. Even the scripts of the everyday game are under constant change. Synchronity is irrelevant at times. The ability to identify important information, learning new rules and being flexible becomes key competences. Thus, in the end, the winner is not necessarily the player with the most points, or the one who played by the rules. The winner is most likely the one who could create and recreate truth, meaning and reality; the one who had the power and ability to adapt to change and generate the best storyline.

Following the ideas from the Game Analogy it becomes essential to develop ways of acting, and ways of interacting, which are fit for living in a state of constant change and uncertainty. This demands a different approach to learning; our culture today has become as much a culture of learning as it is a culture of forgetting in order to clear the ground for new things to replace the old ones. Learning is now more or less understood as a life-long process. And above all, today learning consists of the ability to change what is considered true, appropriate, usable, and effective knowledge.

The internet provides us with information, tools and resources. The combination extends memory and improves the quality of retrieving. In other words, internet extends accessible facts and concepts. But what is seen as important information seems to change from one day to another and the learners have to be ready to review their prior knowledge.

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