What is 21st Century Learning?

Today I had the opportunity to sit down with a graduate class at the University of Manitoba. The course is looking at curriculum and curriculum design. I was asked to talk about 21st century learning. I am not really sure myself! Below is the process we went through to get at the heart of this nebulous term. Group members and people in the general public are asked to comment on what they feel 21st century learning is all about.

Initial Thoughts

At the beginning, we needed to start thinking about four important topics: Learning, Teaching, our Philosophies of Education, and 21st Century Learning.

Change in knowledge, understanding, meaning, engagement, needs of the child, expression, problem-solving, inquiry, decision-making, world, the other, environment. Developing the mind, thinking. Situation. Perspective. Acquisition of skills and knowledge, self-actualization. Relationships. Learner takes action.

What is my Philosophy of Education?: Joyful, constructivist, humanist, integration, synthesis of philosophy, complex creatures. Arena to foster need of expression/creativity. Safe supportive environment so students can become strong individuals and part of a community. Subversion, change in society, sustainability, citizenship, inquiry-based, social reconstruction. Humanistic. This is the most important.

Teaching: facilitation, feedback, engagement. Leadership, compassionate, dynamic, journey. asking questions, creating culture and climate. Learning is visible, needs of the child. Guide. Sharing power for creation of knowledge. Supporting needs. Relationship development for the purposes of constructing knowledge. Values/Virtues. Modelling behaviours and attitudes. Not indoctrination.

21st Century Learning: Critical thinking, collaboration, empathy, reflective thinking, literacy/ICT. Theory and practice, citizenship. Maximize oneself, with internal and external. Solve problems in the future. Redesigning, unpacking, variety of learning strategies, technology. Using resources to live sustainably, communication, innovation FUTURE?? Transformation. Literacy (new), Modes etc. Democratic.

Crowd Source
Then we needed to ask teachers from around the world what they thought…

Learn Unlearn Relearn

Matt’s Perspective

Then we needed to do some research…

Born to Learn from Born to Learn on Vimeo.

Technology is a Tool

Ian Jukes
Buck Institute on Education
Frank Smith – The Book of Learning and Forgetting
Jay Roberts – Beyond Learning by Doing
Alberta Education
Canadians for 21st Century Learning

Now it’s your turn to create an understanding of what 21st century learning is! Thanks to all those who contributed and will contribute. Let’s keep the discussion going and please suggest further reading….


7 thoughts on “What is 21st Century Learning?

  1. I dislike the term 21st century learning, just because it is used so often without being given a whole lot of thought. I think that current teaching and learning relationships should be democratic, transformational, multimodal, creative, inquiry based, and collaborative.

  2. For me it is about accessibility to meaningful education. How can education be relevant for all…including the marginalized? How will people currently enmeshed in poverty engage fully? How will the currently culturally marginalized participate?

  3. It is clear that there is no fixed definition of 21st Century Learning, and maybe this is precisely why it is so exciting. 21st century learning is evolving as quickly as the technology that helps to fuel it. To focus on this one aspect, tremendous access to information allows us to develop individually and as citizens of planet Earth. My hope is that we find ways to increase access as we build toward democratization of education on a global scale.

  4. In terms of accessibility, 21st learning and the tools that are involved with that can provide a more level playing field for all types of learners. Whether its incorporating different learning styles, or providing a learning support for a student who needs one to participate in the learning process, 21st tools and the skills involved with those are important to many of the learners in our classrooms.

  5. I agree, Gail. I think there are still way too many segments of our population, particularly those who are most vulnerable, who do not have equitable educative opportunities. Perhaps this should be the goal of 21st century learning?

  6. I agree, Brandi – I might go a bit further and suggest that a learning relationship needs to be based on a driving question that is real. I have found this to be the most important ingredient in collaborative learning. The lower-order processes become innate and obvious if the questions is valid.

  7. Democratization of education may require the decentralization of education itself. Perhaps smaller communities can identify what knowledge and skills are required for their context. I believe the infamous book "Ecotopia" ha a chapter on this. Might be worth a read – despite the writing being poor.

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