Twenty-First Century Learning?

Cathy Nelson blogged about 21st Century Learner Standards yesterday, drawing our attention to the American Association of School Librarian’s Core Standards:

The Standards describe how learners use skills, resources, and tools to

  1. inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge;
  2. draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge;
  3. share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society;
  4. pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

21 Century Sign

While I only have just begun, I currently have 31 links in delicious on this topic. I hope to put together a faculty learning community next fall to explore this very subject. There is definite commonality among these links but some differences as well. Many focus on the technology alone. While the web may well be ubiquitous, does 21st Century literacy simply mean digital literacy, or is there more to it than that?

Some great starting points that I have found so far:

Jeff Utecht (based on the National Council of Teachers of English) suggested that twenty-first century readers and writers need to:

Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
• Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
• Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
• Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
• Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
• Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

These align nicely with the AASL Standards, focusing on both technological skills and collaborative skills.

I think that it is important that we do define what we mean. I am mindful of an award winning post by Karl Fisch last year on the peril of the illiterate teacher. He chided all of us that we need to model 21st Century skills:

In order to teach it, we have to do it. How can we teach this to kids, how can we model it, if we aren’t literate ourselves? You need to experience this, you need to explore right along with your students. You need to experience the tools they’ll be using in the 21st century, developing your own networks in parallel with your students. You need to demonstrate continual learning, lifelong learning – for your students, or you will continue to teach your students how to be successful in an age that no longer exists.

If a teacher today is not technologically literate – and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more – it’s equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn’t know how to read and write.

To model, we have to define what we mean. So, I am looking for comments and guidance here. What do YOU think are some good resources on what we should mean when we say “21st Century Learners”? Looking for the wisdom of the crowds to help me out here!

[Photo Credit: hyperspace 328]

3 thoughts on “Twenty-First Century Learning?

  1. Kim is awesome! She is one of the 31 links I have saved in delicious on this subject. Good call! And I love great job titles! I want to be a Flat World Travel Agent!

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