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The 21st Century Learning and Teaching Skills You should not Miss

Digital media and internet are transforming the way our kids socialize and play; they are even changing the way they learn and participate civically. Many believe that this shift could possibly transform teaching and learning broadening, thus, the focus of literacy to include the digital element.

Technology is not only revolutionizing education but it is also reconceptualizing the way this education is delivered. Here is  how this reconceptualization process is taking place :

Learning environments in the 20th century :

Learning in the 20th century was basically taking place in a poor environment whose major players were : school, teachers, and parents. The focus was on learning content and students were supposed to passively  consume the information using techniques such as rote memorization and mechanical drilling. Teachers were considered as the only authoritative source of knowledge. They were themselves confined by the  strictures of a rigid curriculum; a curriculum that only celebrated facts and content but no skills.


Learning  in the 21st  century :

Now that technology has creeped into our life a new vision of  learning emerged. This vision is based on the following core principles :

  1. The first principle is the shift from education to learning
  2. The second one is the shift from consumption of learning to participation and production
  3. The third one is the shift from thinking about institutions to thinking about new works.

In this new digital age students learn in rich and stimulating environments. Their role has shifted from being passive consumers to active producers of information. The teacher for them is but an initiator, a mediator, a collaborator, a coach, and a mentor. This new transformation of roles has brought about a change of  the educational system at play. We moved from class system to community system where knowledge is socially constructed. Students learning has become  diversified drawing on several media including :

  1. Online communities
  2. Social networks
  3. Peer learning
  4. Making global connections
  5. smart and mobile devices
  6. networking

Using technology, students become able to free learning from the confinements of time and geography. They can now learn whatever, whenever, and wherever. This type of learning has created a new set of literacies pushing educators, practitioners, and curriculum designers to redefine their list of priorities. What students want now is a knowledge that will empower them with the tools to :

  •  Find information
  • validate this information
  • Synthesize it
  • Leverage information
  • Communicate information
  • Collaborate with it
  • Problem solve it
  • Reflect about it 
  • Evaluate it
  • Publish it

These skills are at the core of the pedagogy  of the 21st century literacy. But to help our students achieve them we need to have an equally challenging curriculum , one that calls on their : 
  • Aesthetic abilities
  • Synthesis abilities
  • Abilities to Understand the context
  • Abilities to work in teams and (a) synchronously
  • Multidisciplinary,multilingual, and multicultural abilities
  • Creative abilities
  • Lateral, divergent,  convergent, and critical thinking abilities

We will also need to make sure our students cultivate the following tech skills :

  • Paraphrasing
  • Attributing
  • Subscribing
  • Editing
  • Twittering
  • Experimenting
  • Reflecting
  • Podcasting
  • Animating
  • Recording
  • Tagging
  • Commenting
  • Searching
  • Posting
  • Locating
  • Linking
  • Networking
  • Bookmarking
  • Mashing
  • Uploading

Now that we know the tools and skills we need for the 21st century teaching and learning we are left with some ethical considerations to address before we can comfortably claim that our toolkit is complete. I am talking here about issues of responsibility, reliability and integrity. These are just as important as the tech skills we have talked about. We , as educators, need to teach our students about the real meaning of professionalism. We have to educate them on topics such as :

  • Copyright
  • Pirating
  • Plagiarism
  • Confidentiality
  • Cyber Crimes
  • Cyberbullying
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Slander

These and some other issues constitute the digital citizenship kit you need to add to your tool kit to finally say you are a 21st century teacher/learner.

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