A lot has changed in the past 200 years. That might seem like a long time, but the truth is, the rate of technological and societal transformation since the early 1800s is unprecedented in human history — and it’s only speeding up.
While the human brain has been the fuel for this progress, our cognitive capacity has also been greatly influenced by society’s evolving needs. We’ve passed through four distinct ages in the past two centuries, and each has asked us to master new cognitive skills to survive and succeed. The proficiencies that the Information Age required — retrieving, comprehending and analyzing — were more complex than those needed for the Industrial Age, which in turn had higher cognitive demands than the Agricultural Age that came before it.
And now we are on the precipice of yet another new era: the conceptual age,
marked by our ability to not only access, but also easily create and disseminate
our own content, instantaneously and on a global scale.
“From YouTube to Facebook to a host of other early web 2.0 tools, our world forever changed during the first 10 years of the 21st century,” say Shawn K. Smith, Ann M. Chavez and Garrett W. Seaman, authors of Teacher
as Architect: Instructional Design and Delivery for the Modern Teacher . “Users became content creators, not just information retrievers.”
This shift, perhaps more than any that came before, asks students — and educators — to rethink what and how we learn. The basic cognitive skills needed by previous generations are no longer enough. Students in the conceptual age must also master the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, including creation, metacognition and self-actualization.
“It will require an upgrade to our curriculum, new instructional methods and materials, a new profile of a global graduate and an open mind,” say Smith, Chavez and Seaman.
For ideas about how to re-create your classroom for the conceptual age, including potential classroom setups, blended learning models to mix and match, and a curriculum design process, take a look at the infographic below.
Ready to learn more about reinventing learning experiences and environments for the digital age? Read Teacher as Architect: Instructional Design and Delivery for the Modern Teacher.
Andra Brichacek is ISTE's senior editor. She has worked as a content creator and editor for nearly two decades.