As we are approaching the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, we are still trying to figure out what 21st century skills, learning, and workforce should be or look like. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills Consortium has done a great job in developing the framework, fostering the national discourse on the needs for 21st century skills and learning, and expanding its reach through its consultation and assistance to state education agencies in their learning standards revisions or updates. I would like to know how our educational leaders, especially technology savy leaders have envisioned the new learning environment and what operationalized 21st century schools or learning would or should look like and where we can find some preliminary model(s) of practices around us for reference. To some extent, I believe that you can not wait for a 21st century learning model to take a shape and rather you should make it happen through experiment and innovation. Who would be in a better position to do so than this group of experienced and talented educational leaders on the Island?
I agree 100% that we cannot wait and the various models will be exposed through experimentation and innovation. With that being said, there are some great resources out there for looking at change and ideas to implement tools and strategies in line with 21st Century Skills.
I say in some of the presentations I give that a part of 21st Century Skills and looking at the technology component is like taking ICT literacy skills and meshing it with Blooms taxonomy (hope that makes sense).
With that being said, another component to this is the physical environment and the existing structure and foundation of the way schools have been constructed (process and pedagogy as well as physical infrastructure). I would venture to say that we must look at the physical environments of learning as much as the practice.
We can throw technology terms around all day, but until we design learning environments and shift process and strategies to meet the needs to todays very diverse learner that are pounded with media (in all forms), we will not realize a systemic change.
It has been said that we are educating our students in systems that were created 150 years ago for an industrial age. We are far removed from that age and have very much moved into an information age.
I have some great resources that I can share with this group that have been created and will add some when I get some more time.
In short.... I think its time to rethink (systemically). We cannot afford to approach initiatives and concepts/ideas in isolation from each other. True change comes from the "System."
I am glad that you mentioned meshing 21st century skills with Bloom's Taxonomy. It does make a perfect sense and demonstrates that you are approaching technology from educational perspective rather than the other way round. 21st century skills place emphasis on higher order thinking and application skills and Bloom's Taxonomy serve as a roadmap to educators in their pursuit of students' active participation in learning and knowledge creation.
You must have known that Bloom's original work has been recently revised (Anderson, 2001) with more active connotation and two dimension matrix has been developed to help map instructional objectives along the scale of the Cognitive Complexity Process as well as the knowledge categories. To a great extent, 21st technology has such a great potential to enable students to engage in higher level of cognitive thinking and learning.
This leads to your second important point: System. After two decades of exploring with technology, we may have to admit that while some progress has been made, it is difficult for the learning community to claim a great victory in a broad sense. The system has not been significantly different nor general classroom practices. Of course, the rapid changes in technology has not helped either. What is more, generally decisions associated with technology initiatives have been made more from technology perspective than from educatonal consideration. There is a desperate need of comprehensive and coherent framework to guide the thinking for system change in response to the needs and demands of the 21st century learning and workforce envirnment where technology can be both tools to introduce changes as well as subject content for learning.
Wonderful comments. You are not rambling at all. This is just a too complex topic with so many angles and issues for consideration. Hope this is a beginning of good conversations among the school refpormers here.
I think Clifford is right on target. The present model of schools was set up to mirror the assembly line. That served us very well for many years. It actually made us an industrial poerhouse in the world. Now, however, I think we can imitate the worksplace again by creating workspaces for kids. I think the school our students need should probably resemble the Google offices where creativity abounds, people can work in teams, and communication across national boundaries is the norm. To illustrate how behind we are, I recently received an e-mail from a principal who had just become a member of this site and wanted to invite her chairpersons to join. The district's filter blocked my invitations because a link was imbedded in the message. That is no way to function.
I just want to draw particular attention to your remark about filtering...
These days, many students are walking around with mobile devices. Many of these devices have Data plans and internet connectivity (think iPhone here folks as an example). These kids have easy access to inappropriate content (if they so wish) wherever they are... including on school grounds.
Now think about the plan to blanket Nassau and Suffolk counties with "free" wireless access within the next 3 years (of course this is a gov't plan, so that timeline may slip). With that being said, PLEASE bear in mind that this county provided free internet access will penetrate into schools. There is no way to stop it.
Don't you think it is time to put a little less focus on screwing this things down with filters and more on acceptable and responsible use?
You are so correct. I heard a wonderful analogy the other day from a primary teacher. She explained that primary teachers teach kids how to use pencils. Carry them point down, never run, etc. Just because a pencil can be dangerous and some students have been poked with them, the school would never think of banning pencils. The analogy is clear. We should be teaching children to use technology rather than banning their access to it, especially, as you so clearly point out, access can't really be banned.
I would love to be able to access the web at work with my notebook. The district does not allow access to the internet except through district equipment. Now try sharing a classroom with a few other teachers - in effect you are blocked from computer access while "other" classes are in session. Labs and libraries are usually "booked" and even available seats/machines are awkward to use since there is no privacy for handling confidential material (IEPs, gradebook, etc.) and there is the difficulty of blocking out instructional chatter (as in the shared classroom).
Can we equate these limitations to banning books in the library? Would the federal government require filters in homes to protect children like they do is schools?
We need a culture of trust.
It is interesting that you mention Google offices where shared spaces help to initiate conversation and where people can congregate. (Google again made the list of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2008) This is in contrast from the way I recall the 1990s, where offices were filled with cubicles everywhere! I was on Rt110 last night and lit up on the east side of the road were the newly changed over signs of Capital One (who bought Northfork Bank). Well, in the darkness of the road, the inside offices were lit and aisle after aisle after aisle of cubicles shone in the night. I wanted to take a picture. It gave me an eerie feeling. How little has changed in the 17 years when I first started in Corporate America. While I make no assumption about what happens in those offices it is clear that some spaces may hinder collaboration and don't always promote privacy (ask people who work in them and usually the answer is the same). Here's a few links to You Tube Videos: An inside look at Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuP3Gxnd-vE & Working for Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd6BPhJjYL4 from Oprah's show last year. A collaborative workspace where students feel welcome, safe, appreciated, healthy, where they can work and play....may make a difference in the way they produce.
I applaud you for what you are learning and what you are trying to provide for your students. Your students are quite fortunate to have you as their teacher as you all continue on this journey. May I ask what grade level you teach?
To answer your question I refer to a quote (I think from Tom Friedman), "If you need a boss in the future, you probably will not have a job."
Thanks for enriching our site with your experience.
You make a very good point on teachers that struggle with technology or do not see its utility to engage students in knowledge work. Many elementary schools completely underutilize technology at the peril or their students future success. Students need experiences collecting knowledge and creating knowlege. Computer labs and one computer classrooms are not providing enough opportunity for students, especially disadvantaged students to practice 21st century skills. Much of this mindset goes back to teachers that are not sure how to apply and integrate technology into their plans other than providing a half hour a week on a learning software program. School leaders will have to confront that problem.
And that "letting go" is hard to do as a teacher sometimes, isn't it?" That you did, and they were successful shows you gave them self-extending skills in technology. Those skills will lead them to future innovation.
FYI..Harvard University's Tony Wagner has written his "newest" book which covers many 21st century ed. issues..
The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need--and What We Can Do About It
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