Clarifying 20c / 21c learning

This blog post is the result of connections made between a live event, Twitter, blogs and related commenting. This is a good example of technology supporting a focused learning session,  with an invitation extended for some participation by remote educators. 

Background: David Warlick was delivering a visioning and leadership session at Greater Essex County School Board. As part of the session, David had posed the question: What is the difference between 20th and 21st century learning? There is no doubt this is a great question to ponder and attempt to wrap your mind around. 

The Connections:

  • David wrote a blog article focusing on this question
  • An invitation to ‘weigh in’ on the discussion was posted on Twitter
  • Many active educators on Twitter would view the invite
  • Some would check out the blog post, while others would participate in the commenting as well
  • For those who commented, their writing was reviewed and posted if suitable

The original blog post and the comments are all well written and interesting to read. As an active member of the educational online community, I certainly appreciated the opportunity to ‘weigh in’ and participate. 

A few highlights from the ongoing discussion include:

  • positive traits of 2oth and 21st century learning
  • a decade into the 21st century, why do we still refer to 21st century learning?
  • student engagement – who owns this? and do teachers own it alone?
  • are education and learning the same thing? or different?

After reading the comments and decided to submit a comment, I was thinking about some connections to the Element by Dr. Ken Robinson. In his book, the Element, he discusses the need to develop ALL of the intelligences in a person. Robinson declares that you are in ‘the element’ when you hit the sweet spot of doing what you excel at and what you are passionate about. 

Helping students find their element, by using the best instructional strategies available while taking advantage of appropriate technologies to support student learning and success is the journey we are on together. Perhaps this is what we mean, at least in part,  by 21st century learning.

David Warlick’s original blog post:  What is the difference between 20th and 21st century learning?

My comment (now posted): I like your definition David. There are a few points that stick in my mind that I would like to share.

1. I believe the use of the term ’21st century learning’ is inclusive of embedding the technology tools that we have access to as part of the learning process. It is not about the technology itself, but rather strategic integration of the tools we have (now or at some future point) to foster the best possible learning environment and opportunities. Certainly, we have those that embrace, and those that do not and perhaps this comparison drives our notion of 21st century learning.

2. I also think that there is a potential to make today’s curriculum more individualized for the independent and collaborative learners we develop.

3. In some ways, we reference 20th century learning as if was all bad. This is certainly no so in my mind. I expect we could make a good case to revisit a few areas we excelled at before the ‘digital’ time began.

Our journey is all about the learner. Creating the best possible learning environment covers the ‘whole playing field’ – curriculum design, building design, teacher training, assessment, changing with the times, best use of technology and steady, reflective incremental improvement. After all, we are life long learners!

~ Mark

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