technical communication, instructional design, twenty-first century learning, educational technology, digital natives, neuroinformatics, neuroscience, brain mapping, technology in the classroom


The increasingly global environment has spurred the economy in the United States as well as the economies in nearly every other nation. Although the U.S. remains the world leader in the global economy, research shows that the United States is at risk of losing its place as the world leader in science and innovation. Policymakers have recognized the need for research addressing global competitiveness. President Bush signed the America Competes Act, which calls for increased investment in innovation and education to improve U.S. competitiveness and President Barack Obama has named a platform, "Science, Technology and Innovation for a New Generation" which will extend and prioritize the efforts to improve math and science education. K-12 U.S. students are graduating from high school unprepared to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in college. Without STEM degrees they will be unable to pursue technology jobs after graduation. Statistics show that the U.S. is failing to produce as many graduates in STEM as other countries. In an increasingly global world, without graduates in STEM courses the U.S. is at risk of losing its position as the economic world leader. Government, industry and academia all agree that the U.S. needs to address education on a K-12 level to ensure that U.S. students are equipped with twenty-first century skills to compete in a twenty-first century global economy. Twenty-first century students are different from students of previous generations. Researchers argue that changes in the environment, specifically an increased exposure to technology, have changed the brains of twenty-first century students; twenty-first century students learn differently. However, twenty-first century students are being taught with an instructional curriculum that was designed for a previous generation that did not have the same exposure to technology. This is causing a digital-divide that is hindering the achievement of students. The instructional curriculum needs to be updated to meet the needs of twenty-first century students. This thesis addresses this need from a technical communication perspective by arguing that the instructional design of twenty-first century learning materials should be improved by adhering to guidelines for twenty-first century learning characteristics and twenty-first century technology use. The guidelines support a national goal to improve K-12 achievement in order to increase U.S. STEM graduates and increase the U.S.'s ability to compete in a global economy.


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Graduation Date



Flammia, Madelyn


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program









Release Date

September 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)