21st Century Learning

“The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human” (John Naisbitt)

"The heart of “21st Century Learning” is not about the tools, it is all about learning how to learn." (Marianne Malmstrom)

"Students digitally connected brains are 21st century brains and teachers must encourage these brains to operate fully in our classrooms." (Sprenger 2009)

Education from the 20th Century style involved a stand and deliver lecture approach by teachers. As we move into the 21st Century Learning realm that style is changing. The move towards a constructivist style of teaching and learning where the student is the center of the learning and the teacher becomes a facilatator is more the norm. The teaching methodologies is now a problem-based learning approach where students become critical thinkers and through projects, solve problems of meaning using the tools available to them. By working collaboratively with teachers the classroom no longer refers to the contained space of four walls but the limitless outreach of the technological devices in the hands of the learner.

Partnership for 21st Century Learning has developed a model which outlines the framework for this new approach to education. They say the Framework presents a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that combines a discrete focus on 21st century student outcomes(a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies) with innovative support systems to help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century.


If you look at the rings to the front....this represents strong foundations that exist in our system now...

- Standards and assessment

- Curriculum and Instruction -important to note that we advocate making the links within our existing curriculum. New curriculum guides include some good examples of this.

- Professional development - changing to include key components of 21st century learning

- Learning environments - need for flexibility, new technologies and redefined learning spaces.

THE GREEN ARC ... this refers to the Core Subjects. Not a whole lot different than what we see today

THE BLUE ARC ... information, media and technology skills...effective citizens must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills such as Information Literacy, Media Literacy, ICT Literacy with the following characteristics

  • access to an abundance of information
  • rapid changes in technology tools
  • the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale

THE RED ARC … includes Life and career skills. The new workplace requires that our students have skills such as:

  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Self Direction
  • Social and Cross Cultural Skills
  • Productivity and accountability
  • Leadership and Responsibility

THE YELLOW ARC … learning and innovative skills. The P21 organization sees this as the skills that separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in today's world and those who are not. The four c’s are intertwined and must be fused with the three r’s in order to ensure that the educational experience of our students provides them with the necessary skills needed to function now and in the future.

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking

If you wish to read a more indebt description of the Arc's outlined above then please follow the following link.

As we move into the realm of 21st Century Learning what are the characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher. According to
Andrew Churches' wikispaces site entitled Educational Origami provides a very insightful overview of the characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher. When one reads through the descriptors of a 21sr Century Teacher as outlined by Mr. Churches one cannot argue with the picture that he has painted.

21st Century Teacher Characteristics:
  • Collaborative
  • Adaptive
  • Information, media and technology savvy
  • Communicators
  • Risk Taker
  • Creators
  • Visionary

Recently I had the opportunity to view a video about 21st Century Skills delivered by students at an elementary school. Brad Flickenger a technology teacher in Colorado delivers a very interesting video about these tools.