Good Afternoon!

I will be working with a group of educators tomorrow. We will be talking about Web 2.0 tools, in general - what are they good for . . . . I want to show them ONE way that Classroom 2.0 can work for them by letting them see the richness of social networking with other educators.

So, here's a topic. . . How would you define 21st Century Skills? Why do you think they are important - for both educators and students? How does Web 2.0 fit in? Or - do you have something else you'd like to share?

Thanks for your time!
Lee Anne Morris

Tags: 21stCenturySkills, Web2.0

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I'd say that the most important two skills of the Twenty First Century are:
1. Accessing needed information
2. Accessing the appropriate people

In many ways these two items are very much interrelated.
Hi Andrew,

Great points. It's all about building learning networks that can flex and flux - finding the right people for the right learning job. When you find the right people, chances are good you will find the right information, and . . . . well, you are so right. This is a chicken/egg relationship!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Lee Anne
The right people and the right learning is definitely important. Collaboration projects are quickly becoming the norm and we have to know how to utilize Web 2.0 to use these collaborations effectively in our classroom.
Helping our students see a world outside of their backyard is very important to me, and using tools like Skype will take my students all the way around the world without costing a thing.
Hi Linda!!

I love your use of the word "buffet." Leave it to an English teacher to find the perfect word. Here's why I like it so much, like most buffets, you have a lot to choose from but you don't have to choose it all. In fact, if all you like is beet salad, then you can just eat beet salad. I don't know how long a person could keep up the beet salad diet, but the point is we have choices. We can use as many or as few tools as we need to get the job done - or to bring us back to Pam's point earlier in the discussion, to communicate.

Thanks for playing!
Lee Anne
The quickly shifting job market will make employability much more difficult to define. IBM sending 5,000 white collar jobs to India and GM cutting everywhere makes you wonder where to begin defining employability not just today but in the short term future as students graduate.
Hi Matt,

I like Evan Abbey's blog. Thanks for sharing. The post you linked to gave me yet another angle from which to look at all this. I love that.

I am curious; what do you think about this list of 21 Century skills?

I can see all sides, really, but can't seem to solidly land anywhere. Education used to have completely different goals not so long ago in the relative history of human kind. The goal was to follow scholarly pursuits and become a more well-rounded person. It was about exploration and discussion and philosophy and analysis . . . etc. I don't see a whole lot of that scholarly pursuit in classrooms anymore. I am not at a university, where I’m sure there is more ivy on the walls. I teach at a community college and I work with K-college educators. I know the community college has always had a more pragmatic approach to education – that’s its purpose. However, it just seems like all education is becoming more pragmatic. And when I look at this list you have shared, that is the word that comes to mind. Is this a good move or a bad move? Do we need so much focus on content or is content obsolete? Are we rejecting change or are we just that left behind?

I guess that's enough questions! :-D
Lee Anne
Hello,

I believe you need to have infrastructure in place to provide 21st Century Skills. Look at this 21 Century Network: http://www.doit.wisc.edu/news/story.asp?filename=1133

Without right network in place -- all the 21Century applications simply will not run.
The answer to the question so what are the 21sth century skills starts with another question: What were the 19th century skills? The answer is the traditional 3 R's -- reading, writing, and arithmetic -- that comprised the basics of the educational system and prepared students for the workplace of the 19th century. Now what prepares students for the 21st Century?
Word processors, spreadsheets, and access to information. Web 2.0 is just one third of those new basics.

We need to stress word processing and spreadsheets over handwriting and computation. These play a role in the 21st century but not the role they played in the 19th. Yet our children are being held back by these 19th century skills and we argue about how to integrate technology into the schools rather than how to integrate the schools into the existing technology.
As I continue my quest to move our school into the 21st century, I constantly remind myself to not throw the baby out with the bath water. While I completely agree with the shift to "21st century skills" as they have been defined in the discussion above, I am also mindful that "traditional" skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic, will always hold value. Students need to understand the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic in order to be productive consumers of information and participants in society. These base skills are what enable individuals to access higher-order thinking skills. That said, I believe that the real value of 21st century technologies is in HOW we teach, HOW students learn, and HOW students demonstrate their understanding. If students are engaging in school in a platform that will prepare them for the realities of the future and still learning the content they need, their potential for success will be much greater. Additionally, "21st century technology" is the world in which they live. It is their comfort zone, their reality. Why do we force them to interact with a world that they are not familiar or comfortable outside of school?
yes yes yes yes yes! I am with you on the "how" and the 3R's and the whole thing. Some teachers for get that technology is more about the "how" and not so much about the "what." I find they often focus too much on the skills of using the technology instead of using the technology to grow skills. It's natural to do that - I get it.

Thanks!
Lee Anne
Funny, just starting a dissertation and needing to define 21st century skills.

According to Tony Wagner, 21st century skills include: The Seven Surivival Skills for Careers, College, & Citizenship in the 21st Century include:
1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
"The idea that a company's senior leaders have all the answers and can solve problems by themselves has gone completely by the wayside...The person who's close to the work has to have strong analytic skills. You have to be rigorous: test your assumptions, don't take things at face value, don't go in with preconceived ideas that you're trying to prove." - Ellen Kumata, consultant to Fortune 200 companies

2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
"The biggest problem we have in the company as a whole is finding people capable of exerting leadership across the board...Our mantra is that you lead by influence, rather than authority." - Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Cisco

3. Agility and Adaptability
"I've been here four years, and we've done fundamental reorganization every year because of changes in the business...I can guarantee the job I hire someone to do will change or may not exist in the future, so this is why adaptability and learning skills are more important than technical skills." - Clay Parker, President of Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards

4. Initiative and Entrepreneurship
"For our production and crafts staff, the hourly workers, we need self-directed people...who can find creative solutions to some very tough, challenging problems."- Mark Maddox, Human Resources Manager at Unilever Foods North America

5. Effective Oral and Written Communication
"The biggest skill people are missing is the ability to communicate: both written and oral presentations. It's a huge problem for us." - Annmarie Neal, Vice President for Talent Management at Cisco Systems

6. Accessing and Analyzing Information
"There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren't prepared to process the information effectively, it almost freezes them in their steps." - Mike Summers, Vice President for Global Talent Management at Dell

7. Curiosity and Imagination
"Our old idea is that work is defined by employers and that employees have to do whatever the employer wants...but actually, you would like him to come up with an interpretation that you like-he's adding something personal-a creative element." -Michael Jung, Senior Consultant at McKinsey and Company

You can find some good info on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills web-site.

To me Web 2.0 can support the development of 21st century skills since it provides a unique way for students to collaborate, innovate and imagine with others. It also provides a very public & authentic forum for written expression which can support the development of good writing if the lessons are well thought-out using the writing process. In terms of agility and adaptability, students can see the changes and new content that is being developed on a regular basis and understand that they need to learn how to learn and be open to trying new things. Finally, I think integrating Web 2.0 tools can provide us with the opportunity to help our students learn how to navigate and sift through the vast amount of information on the internet responsibly and ethically. We need to ensure that the students see the web as a tool to help them learn but that it's all about balance.

Teachers who integrate Web 2.0 tools also need to provide:
Authentic tasks that have rich academic components and deep questions
Authentic learning experiences away from the computer
Ample time for reflection and synthesis
Regular time for discussion about the many ethical issues that arise when interacting with others both in face to face and online environments.

I love this cool Bloom's 2.0 Graphic which I just came across!

Good luck,

Lisa Mireles

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