Saturday, May 29, 2010

What are 21st Century Skills? Why are they important? Thoughts from a child, about creativity, and online learning

There is a lot of talk in the world of education about teaching and fostering 21st Century Skills. In fact, here in the Spring Lake Park Schools we speak to, and are working to, integrate 21st Century Skills in the daily work of staff and students.

What does this mean? What are 21st Century Skills? Why is it important?

We have to do more for our students than just provide them with content, and prepare them for a state test. We need to open up the world to our students, fostering creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing global and digital world. However, do our current practices in E-12 schools really do this?

I've provided a couple of links that I believe provide some unique and interesting perspectives around this topic of 21st Century Skills, as well as online learning and the influence of technology. I hope you find the perspectives of those featured below thought-provoking.

First, Adora Svitak, a child prodigy and published author who has been sharing her message with educators and leaders across the country. She talks about what she thinks the world needs for the future - bold ideas, creative thinking... Take seven minutes and check it out.

Sir Ken Robinson provides an entertaining, comical look at our educational future, creativity, and the work of schools. He also takes a critical look at our work, asking schools and policy-makers to examine what we are doing, how we are doing it, and what that means for students.

Finally, online learning is a real emerging influence in education. Online learning isn't a 21st Century Skill by itself, but is a means of delivering instruction and engaging students. Students across the country are demanding it more and more. In fact, researchers out of Harvard project that 50% of high school students will be learning online by 2019. So, inevitably, online learning will be a vehicle of delivering instruction in the future. As we think about online learning, the larger question is, how are we preparing students for the digital future they will live in?

District 287, based right here in the Minneapolis metro area, has developed a video that provides a glimpse into the expansion of online learning.

While the future of education is anything but certain, it is exciting to think about the possibilities. It's also more important than ever for our students.

Have a good one!

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