Archive for December, 2012

Creating the 21st Century Learning Experience — Asia Futures Magazine Online

Working to better prepare its nation’s students to thrive in a fast-changing and highly-connected world, the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) is promoting the development of self-directed and collaborative learning skills in its third Master Plan for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Education. As an MOE-designated “Future School in Singapore” and a Mentor School in theMicrosoft Innovative Schools Program, Nan Chiau Primary School (NCPS) is playing a vital role in pushing the frontier of technology to prepare its students for the future.

Creating the 21st Century Learning Experience — Asia Futures Magazine Online.

Are 21st Century Skills the Missing Piece?

by Coby Enteen

The introduction of 21st century knowledge and skills as a focal point for educational initiatives has reignited discussion as to the role of the teacher in the classroom.  Educators have been attempting for years to initiate a ‘paradigm shift’ in terms of the role of the teacher with the classroom; from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’.  However, very few have been able to turn this change into a reality.

When technology was first introduced into the classroom, educators believed that computers would speed up change and that teachers would finally let go of old habits and capitalize on digital resources as a means of transforming the classroom.  This did occur on a very small scale, where forward-thinking teachers understood the value of the technology in terms of encouraging student inquiry and a higher- level of discourse in the classroom.  However, for the most part teachers continue to serve as a single source of knowledge and the technology is used as a supplementary resource if at all.

One of the most significant trends of the past decade is the introduction of 21st century skills into teaching and learning.  Although academia is still wresting with the most accurate definition of these skills and practices, they have become the cornerstone for nearly all educational endeavors.  So, what are these 21st century skills?  The partnership for 21st Century skills (www.p21.org) defines them as: Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation.  The division of Assessment and Teaching in of 21st Century Skills (ATOCS) at the University of Melbourne (www.atc21s.org) further divides these skills into 4 categories:

  • Ways of thinking. Creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and learning
  • Ways of working. Communication and collaboration
  • Tools for working. Information and communications technology (ICT) and information literacy
  • Skills for living in the world. Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility

Transformation of teaching and learning occurs when we begin to base our  instructional practices on 21st Century Skills.  Educators that integrate these skills into daily practice are unable to avoid more active instruction and begin to understand the importance of allowing student to construct knowledge through the development of these skills, at which point technology plays the ‘natural’ role of enabler.  This process leads to a transformation in the teaching process or an ‘instructional paradigm shift’ as illustrated in figure 1 below.

21CTI_Model

Figure 1 – 21CTI Model

Another article related to 21st century skills:

Living in a Digital World We Don’t Understand | edtechdigest.com.

Social Networks or Learning Networks?

Social Media

Written by Coby Enteen

Social networks are gradually becoming commonplace in the K-12 classrooms.  Teachers have awoken to the fact that 12-18 year old’s  spend much of their after-school hours socializing online, and they only started to realize the value of bringing this experience into the classroom.

I have personally had the opportunity to introduce a teacher controlled social learning platform in a recent 1-to-1 initiative in a large school district.  Teachers received hands-on training using the Edmodo online tool to introduce topics, assign schoolwork, create classroom discussions and encourage student learning and inquiry both during the school hours and at home in the form of homework.  The teacher training was voluntary and only 30% of the teachers attended the initial sessions.  Within a two months of the training the number of teachers using social networks in the classroom doubled and it became a source of discussion in the teachers lounges.

Although social networks are viewed by most as a leisure activity, we must not forget that it is the voice of the young generation.  It is the medium of speech and something that comes naturally to them.  Therefore, the ‘natural’ place is in the classroom, and maybe we should consider it to be a learning network instead?

More Educators Joining Online Social Networks -- THE Journal

More information about teachers and social networks:

More Educators Joining Online Social Networks — THE Journal.