21st Century Learning

This week we’ve been discussing 21st Century Learning. For such a simple term, there seems to be a myriad of different definitions, and upon further research it seems that even the education community is struggling to define precisely what it means. I found some thought-provoking definitions and read some great definitions uncovered by my peers. There were some common trains of thought amongst many of the definitions, but there was a great deal of variance too.
Does 21st century learning simply refer to future learning? It can’t strictly refer to future learning, can it? I mean, we’ve been in the 21st century for some fourteen years already so it mustn’t refer only to future learning.
Does 21st century learning simply refer to any learning achieved in the 21st century, regardless of the methodology used? If a child attends a school in the year 2014 stuck firmly in the industrial age and just happens to luck upon learning something is that 21st century learning?
Does 21st century learning need to involve modern technology as the name might suggest, or is it deeper than that?
Is 21st century learning simply about buzz words and key terms?

Here are just some of the terms that cropped up after our learning group did some simple research into 21st learning to try and seek a definition:

  • Knowledge-based
  • Personalised Learning
  • Interests
  • Talents
  • Capabilities
  • Success
  • Future
  • Transormation
  • Reform
  • Embrace
  • Nurturing
  • Skills
  • Educational Path
  • Conformity
  • Standardised
  • Dynamic
  • Passions
  • Flourish
  • Technology
  • Vision
  • Past
  • Intellectual
  • Fostering
  • Thinking
  • Experiences
  • Engaged
  • Master Content
  • Producing
  • Synthesizing
  • Evaluating
  • Understanding
  • Respect
  • Diverse
  • Demonstrate
  • Culture
  • Digital Literacy
  • Civic Responsibility
  • Design
  • Remodel
  • Analyse
  • Collaborate
  • Solve Problems
  • Make Decisions
  • Emerging
  • Isolated

Well, that’s certainly some list! Some great words in there and by reading them I think we really get a feel what this 21st century business is really all about. Interstingly, although it’s a common thread amongst many discussions of 21st century learning, few of the terms actually refer to technology directly; although I do think the technology we have available to us can certainly help facilitate 21st century learning. For the most part I believe 21st century learning has its roots in a change in our way of thinking, away from the industrial age school where the school had the monopoly on information (Senge et al., 2012, p.59) to a world where “the typical teenager has at least as much access to knowledge about the world as parents and teachers have.” (Senge et al., 2012, p.60). Students are engaged in personalised learning where the teacher is no longer a font of knowlege, but a facilitator there to guide and encourage students to learn in a way that explores their environment and helps them identify and embrace their talents.

Here are the actual definitions we came up with as a result of our research:

“…it can be considered as an emerging cluster of new ideas, beliefs, knowledge, theories and practices—some of which may be visible in some schools and classrooms, some which exist only in isolated pockets and others which are barely visible yet.” (Bolstad et al.  2012)

Bolstad, R. & Gilbert, J., with McDowell, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S. & Hipkins, R. (2012) Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective, Retrieved from http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/109317/994_Future-oriented-07062012.pdf

“In 21st Century Learning, students use educational technologies to apply knowledge to new situations, analyze information, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions.”

Retrieved from https://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/dist_learning/21century_learning.htm

“The focus has shifted in recent years from the individual teacher designing a module or session to include teams designing the whole course. There is the greater sense that, with learner access to the burgeoning resources on the web, and with their increasing digital skills, we should remodel education so that learners can take control of their own learning.”

Beatham H & Sharpe R, Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing for 21st Century Learning.

“Twenty-first-century learning means that students master content while producing, synthesizing, and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources with an understanding of and respect for diverse cultures. Students demonstrate the three Rs, but also the three Cs: creativity, communication, and collaboration. They demonstrate digital literacy as well as civic responsibility.” (Barnett Berry, Founder and CEO, Center for Teaching Quality)

Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2010/10/12/01panel.h04.html

21st Century Learning is a move away from the past, The Industrial Age-based  education of knowledge transfer, to the education of now and the future which requires an ability to use knowledge to innovate.

In “Supporting future-oriented learning and Teaching: a NZ Perspective” Learning is defined by concepts such as:-

-Learning involves THINKING

- EXPERIENCES are critical to learning

-Learners need to be actively ENGAGED

- Learners need to want to learn

- Learning needs to be personalised (not standardised)

Bolstad, R. & Gilbert, J., with McDowell, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S. & Hipkins, R. (2012) Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective, Retrieved from http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/109317/994_Future-oriented-07062012.pdf%5D

“Twenty-first-century learning means hearkening to cornerstones of the past to help us navigate our future. Embracing a 21st-century learning model requires consideration of those elements that could comprise such a shift: creating learners who take intellectual risks, fostering learning dispositions, and nurturing school communities where everyone is a learner.” Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year, USA

Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2010/10/12/01panel.h04.html

“The vision of a 21st century K-12 education system is rooted in personalised learning. It focuses on providing students the skills they need to participate in a knowledge-based society, while also allowing them to explore an educational path that is best suited to their interests, their capabilities and their chosen future. Such a vision means the system must be transformed in a number of ways”.

Retrieved from http://www.gov.bc.ca/premier/attachments/PTC_vision%20for_education.pdf

” 21st century learning is a remix of multiple literacies which fuse with the tools of technology—and the skills of critical thinking—to stimulate authentic, relevant learning opportunities for all learners, anywhere, anytime.”  Lucy Miller-Ganfield

Retrieved from http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/21-definitions-for-a-21st-century-education/

“21st Century learning is the process whereby digital natives utilize the power of modern technology to learn anything, anytime, anywhere. Classrooms are no longer necessarily defined by rigid walls, as hybrid learning models blend the virtual with the physical into a truly engaged and collaborative educational experience.” Ligon, D. (2009, August 9) 21st Century Teaching & Learning

[Web Log Post] Retrieved from http://www.classroom20.com/profiles/blogs/21st-century-teaching-amp

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