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Anatomy of The 21st Century Classroom

May 29, 2014
As a doctoral researcher in the field of emerging literacies, I view the affordances brought about by the integration of digital technologies in education as a major game changer in the transformation of those basic literacy notions that have accompanied us since the emergence of the first signs of literacy (writing) 5000 years ago. The impact of these networked digital technologies in the first decade of the 21st century alone is unprecedented both in scope and breadth. We are now witnessing the birth of a new educational system that is more geared towards celebrating diversity, collaboration, independent learning, self directed learning and on-the-go learning.

Of course any change in the education ecosystem is first felt in the classroom where it is demonstrably translated into teaching and learning pedagogies. In the case of the 21st century classroom this change is clearly noticeable in three main areas:

Teaching pedagogy:
In the 21st century classroom, the reigning teaching pedagogy is student centred. It foregrounds students as active meaning makers.

The teacher student rapport:
There is no longer any sage on the stage but only mentors and coaches who guide students to look at different possibilities but without showing them what to see.

Learning skills
In an environment where digital media and Internet are ubiquitous means of connecting, sharing and learning, it goes without saying that new priorities are placed on top of the learning pyramid. These priorities highlight skills that students will find more relevant to use in their future job market. The list of these skills is long but suffice it to embed them under  four  broad categories as shown in the table below. In each of these categories is featured the role of teachers and students.

Check out this table from  GASH-Math featuring a very good summary of what a 21st century classroom is.