This is the "21st Century Skills: Now What?" page of the "21st Century Skills in Education" guide.
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Last Updated: May 15, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

21st Century Skills: Now What? Print Page

21st Century Education

"As educators in the 21st century, we are charged with educating students to be successful in a complex, interconnected world. This responsibility requires schools to prepare students for technological, cultural, economic, informational, and demographic changes."
                                                  Source: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)


What Does the 21st Century Classroom Look Like, Feel Like?

Our education system is still for the most part, a paper-and-pencil oriented system, while our students live in a digital world. Schools often teach content in isolation, in departments that are disconnected, yet we live in an interconnected world. Traditional teaching focuses on the mastery of content rather than the mastery of collaborating, communicating, thinking critically and creating content.  It's not about teaching content and skills. It's about using content to teach skills. Today there is a growing consensus in K-12 education of putting more emphasis on teaching skills than knowledge to produce career and college ready high school graduates. So how do we do that?

There are multiple ways to describe the 21st Century classroom. Think of it as an environment where...

  • Students are actively involved in authentic learning and learning experiences are connected to the real world
  • Time is spent on inquiry-based activities (i.e., explorations, investigations, research) rather than memorizing facts
  • Students are provided with opportunities to work collaboratively on projects designed to find solutions to problems, draw conclusions or form opinions
  • Assessments are project-based rather than based on knowing the correct answer
  • Learning is student-centered and teacher-facilitated
  • Student desks are not arranged in rows but in clusters to promote collaboration
  • Multiples technologies (i.e., interactive whteboards, learner response systems, blogs, educational social media, online databases, Web 2.0 tools) are used effectively, purposefully and meaningfully to enhance both teaching and learning
  • The use of technology is driven by content, purpose, audience, and age-appropriateness
  • Students access authoritative sources of information anytime both from school and home
  • Experts and community partners are brought into the classroom as needed, either in person or via distance learning
  • Students publish projects online rather than paper, and use them to build their own e-portfolios
  • Content is rigorous, relevant and enables students to get ready for life

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