21st Century Skills for Teaching & Learning

Written by Susan Zolezzi
October 26, 2017 • 2 minute read


Whether you love, dislike, or are indifferent to the kinds of technologies that we are increasingly exposed to each day, you must admit that they are here to stay and that they have a profound effect on many ares of our lives.

Along with these constantly emerging technologies comes the need to adapt and learn the skills needed to use technology efficiently. There are often referred to as "21st century skills."

Here are examples of what many consider "21st Century skills":

  • Critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, analysis, and interpretation of the constant flow of online information; in other words, higher-order thinking skills
  • Online research skills and practices
  • Ability to access and use social media
  • Leadership, teamwork, collaboration, cooperation, facility in using virtual workspaces
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy, media and internet literacy, data interpretation and analysis, computer programming
  • Understanding of digital citizenship

(Source: EdGlossary)

In essence, 21st Century skills correlate to the newfound demands of a more technologically integrated society. A modern curriculum should be crafted to challenge students to meet these demands and develop a technologically conscious mindset.

How have technological advances in the past ten years affected you personally? Even if you don't consider yourself to be particularly tech-savvy, you have probably absorbed some new methods and routines in how you communicate and interact with information using technology. For example, you might use a smartphone to send a text message or to read online content.

How have you adapted the learning environment that you create for your students? Some of the hallmarks of a 21st Century learning environment are:

  • A student-centered classroom. Either face-to-face or online, the student-centered classroom gives students more freedom to make choices about how they learn.
  • Students learn about new technologies and use them to produce information, projects, and digital artifacts such as videos, podcasts, and online group projects.
  • Students can and do use mobile technologies.
  • Students are aware of and use multiple ways to get information digitally.
  • Students learn to collaborate and cooperate with each other (a 21st Century work skill).

Whether or not you have gone willingly into the teaching modes of the 21st Century, there is no doubt that this area of communication and teaching will continue to evolve. As teachers, we have a responsibility to prepare students for the modern workplace, and embracing methods now considered commonplace, such as the constant communication and collaboration expected at work.

Information about digital citizenship and how to be a responsible consumer of online information is also vital for the success of our students. In addition, it will continue to be important for us as teachers to keep updating our skills and proficiencies to refresh and provide a 21st Century repertoire, and hopefully stay one step ahead of our students.

Are you or someone you know finding success with incorporating 21st Century skills in your classroom? We'd love to hear from you! Email instructionaldesign@usfca.edu to share your story.

Not sure where to start? We're here to help.

For help with integrating 21st Century skills into your curriculum, contact Instructional Design to request a consultation.

Contact Instructional Technologies & Training to schedule a training session and access self-guided training materials on educational technologies supported at the University of San Francisco.

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