21st Century Skills
by Paul Stewart, eLearning Guy on Sep 24, 2010
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ap·pli·ca·tion (ap-li-key-shun) ...
The act of applying.
The act of putting something to a special use or purpose.
The capacity of being usable; relevance.
Close attention; diligence.
A request, as for assistance, employment, or admission to a school.
Computer Science. A computer program with a user interface.
A colleague and I were preparing a workshop on designing curriculum for today’s students and we were discussing the skills and dispositions we felt were important to meet the challenges of tomorrow. It was a good chat and I came out of it with some ideas I felt were worth pursuing. I like to represent my thinking visually, so I thought it might be interesting to create images that convey some of the ideas I had running through my head…
For want of a better term, let’s call it an iPed - excuse the awful pun.
Now there is a subtext here – good curriculum design starts with the students and considers what their needs are. As Maslow suggested, we cannot expect individuals to soar until their basic needs are met. And then there are their academic needs. Teachers need to consider vertical alignment (using prior knowledge to build on), horizontal alignment (the pace at which a group of students moves through the curriculum) as well as looking for interdisciplinary connections which may increase the relevancy of the skills and content. All these elements need to be considered in the context of other standards (e.g. VELS, ACARA in Victoria, Australia), contemporary research and policy (e.g. MCEETYA, the Melbourne Declaration) as well as school vision and strategy documents. It’s a challenging but rewarding process and can be supported in a host of ways by technology (hence the motif of the apps in my visualisation). Technology can assist in liberating the students’ thinking, providing them with mechanisms for inquiry as well as giving them ways in which to provide a performance of understanding so that their teachers can assess their progress.
Of course, the collection above is not definitive – there’s a few items I’d like to add, such as evaluation, synthesis and inquiry. It’s worth noting that my thinking regarding 21st century skills is dynamic. A list of these skills cannot be static and the acquisition of such skills is an ongoing process (just as any assessment should not suggest that the learning has stopped or been completed). I am sure there are many other dispositions, skills and attributes readers of this blog could add. I’ll supply the means to do so below. Some time in the not to distant future I’ll pop on a black skivvy, stand up on stage and say, ‘But wait… there’s more!’ as I proudly reveal the next iteration of my iPed.
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