Monday, February 25, 2008

What skills do our students need?

What is the technology skill set that the graduate of a High School will need to complete their college work? To enter the work force? What tasks will be second nature for them that we are not thinking about today?

In order to compete in the 21st century global economy, students need to learn how to harness the power of technology to communicate in our increasingly flat world.

If students are to learn these skills, they may need to get very different kinds of assignments. Here's a traditional assignment: "Read the following descriptions of sites in Metropolis and, referring to the specifications, determine which site would be the best for a park." A corresponding assignment that would teach 21st-century skills might be this: "Using GPS equipment, work with students from two other schools in this city to determine the best site for a park, collaborate on a multimedia presentation, and arrange to make that presentation to the city council." In the latter assignment, students use various forms of technology (Internet, Email, GPS equipment, perhaps digital cameras, PowerPoint™), solve real-life problems, and work together to produce the desired result.

Note that the technology alone is insufficient. Good pedagogy is still good pedagogy, and that means engaging students, challenging them, encouraging them, and trusting them to do well. The trick—the goal—is incorporating technology into that pedagogy.

-The Journal/21st century Skills

Good pedagogy is still good pedagogy. This year at Educon 2.0 five guiding principals were outlined in a discussion about our schools.
  1. Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members.
  2. Our schools must be about co-creating — together with our students — the 21st Century Citizen
  3. Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around.
  4. Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate
  5. Learning can — and must — be networked

We also need to consider the three essential questions from Dan Pink's, A Whole New Mind:

As teachers we need to make sure that our lessons are surrounding these questions/statements. If our students are going to be competing in a global economy then we need to take a serious look at the essential learnings and pedagogy in our classrooms. In order for change to occur we need to continue to look at 21st Century literacy skills.


David said...

Knowing that you teach in a Lutheran school, we need to take these goals one step further, for we have the opportunity and the charge to harness these tools for productive ministry as well. We would not be fulfilling our mission if we simply adopted the goals of the world without sprinkling these goals with the salt and light of the Gospel message.

Kevin said...

I agree with learning being networked and a group effort.

I feel that we need to put much more emphasis on mathematics (especially) and the sciences. American students are far behind other students in these areas. It would take years for us just to catch up with the world. Computer classes, other than keyboarding, should be removed from highschool. Computer skills should be taught in every class alongside the daily lesson. Technology should be integrated not highlighted. This will teach students how to use technology practically in day-to-day life rather than separating it as an entirely different subject.

If you want to add a technology class, add a basic computer fundamentals class where students can know how the machines work. Let students study the evolution of computers. This would be a great skillset to have later in life.