Modern Learning: What, Why and How?

by Marcus Bernard

WHAT IS MODERN LEARNING?

Modern learning offers a holistic approach by recognizing that people absorb information in more than one way. At its core, this learning model consists of three learning methods: experiential (70%) social (20%), and formal (10%) (Woody 2016). These three methods allow students to develop the fundamental skills needed for personal development and self-growth, and are key in enhancing their overall learning experience. Modern learning helps expand the thinking capabilities of learners to help them make better informed decisions and connections with others that are unmediated by an institution. This shift in learning methods motivates students to learn on their own in an environment that addresses the needs and demands of our future leaders.

Traditional learning methods are more passive in the way they are structured and directed/organized. Instead of being able to immediately apply newfound concepts, skills, and ideas to a real-life experience, the learning process is controlled. This is what typically exists in institutions and in the school system even in the present day. One of its notable downfalls is how it privatizes space and does not offer the same openness and flexibility that is available through modern learning. As a result, this influences how information is consumed by learners and creates a barrier that is both unengaging and passive.

Modern learning is split up into three core groups, with experiential learning as the largest component at 70 percent. In this method, students learn by doing and are given the opportunity to get hands-on and engage with others. It teaches students how to apply previous learning when faced with unfamiliar situations to gain valuable insight on the task at hand. Ultimately, experiential learning helps bridge the gap between formal and informal methods of learning by putting knowledge into practice.

At the base of this framework, formal learning carefully structures the way information is delivered and received by students. Hereby, information is transmitted in a systematic way that enforces training and learning from others. Like traditional methods, formal learning encourages students to work with defined goals and objectives to further their learning.

Social learning ties up this cycle through the act of reflection. Once both experiential and formal learning has taken place, students then work together to expand on their knowledge and deepen their understanding of the material through collaboration and mentoring. This includes discussing areas of improvement, problem solving, and hypothesizing theories to ultimately build a shared community of knowledge. With this method alone, knowledge retention is said to increase by 70% as a result of detailed attention and active participation (Woody 2016). This observation of behaviour has its benefits and helps instruct students on how to modify their own performance after sincere reflection.

WHY IS IT EFFECTIVE WHEN TEACHING YOUTH?

Modern learning has proven to be a positive influence on youth by offering flexibility, openness, and access to resources (Osborne, 2013). Through active collaboration, youth learn to work through observations and gain a true understanding of how their capabilities are shaped by others. It gives youth the opportunity to enhance their learning and be a valuable contributor in their personal growth, self-esteem, and development of life fundamentals.

Youth benefit from having structured activities that encourage participation and reward them with long-term life skills. It encourages them to initiate a learning experience and connect to the physical world and authentic contexts (Malone & Tranter, 2003). This interaction in modern learning environments creates a sense of independency and motivates youth to become self-directed learners. It teaches youth about the importance of creating social connections and fostering relationships with others.

When all three modern learning methods are singled out, students become limited in how they apply their knowledge to new contexts. Therefore, it is important that in the 21st century, modern learning has a place in all teaching environments where learning from others, learning by doing, and learning through observations are widely recognized and adopted.
                                

HOW SFC USES MODERN LEARNING

Soccer For Change has adopted this approach to assist in the personal development of its participants in their Youth Leadership Development Program. With a framework that uses all three methods of modern learning combined, volunteers can fully immerse themselves in the experience and apply it to real-world contexts. It goes beyond being able to act as a leader; it involves developing important life skills, strengths and mentoring, that benefit our volunteers and youth participants for the future. During our service trips, all three methods are set up so that they complement one another throughout the day. Formal training takes the role through group activities and workshops to instruct our volunteers and help them best prepare for the afternoon Soccer Camp. The Soccer Camp provides the experiential stage for our leaders to work with the youth and provide them with engaging activities in a safe and fun environment. These activities are then evaluated as a follow-up to determine the outcome and the experience of those involved. Through this programming, leaders at SFC grow to make impactful connections with youth using modern learning to positively influence their learning dynamic.

References:

Malone, Karen & Tranter, Paul. “Children’s Environmental Learning and the Use, Design and Management of Schoolgrounds.” Children, Youth and Environments 13, 2003. (from the Core Education Whitepaper below)

Osborne, Mark. “Modern Learning Environments.” Core Education Whitepaper, 2003.

Woody, Matthew. “Accelerate Your Training Strategies with Social and Informal Learning.” Docebo, 20 Oct. 2016.


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