Today on Twitter there seems to be a lot of talk about 21st Century Learners and Skills and it has my brain percolating. I just got back in from walking my dog and now I really have to write (apparently this means I’m bodily and word smart according to @Twilliamson15‘s Multiple Intelligences Survey).  So I’m going to break it down into my ideas of a 21st Century Learner and 21st Century Skills.

21st Century Learner:

  • spends much time online via social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace
  • blogs him/herself or reads blogs
  • gets information for school work or pleasure from the internet
  • if into current events, reads news and sports online or watches streaming footage
  • VERY computer literate
  • finds it easier to type rather than write or print
  • has a cell phone, iPod, mp3 player, digital camera, digital video camera or all of the above
  • is an avid text messager or uses instant messaging often or both
  • can multitask fairly well (upload pics to Facebook, Flikr, while IMing and downloading music)
  • likes background noise (ie music)
  • plays video games online or at least knows how to
  • dislikes using paper and pens
  • is a very visual and likely kinesthetic learner
  • enjoys surfing Youtube or posting their own videos
  • is very familiar with making slideshows
  • can’t imagine going out of the house without some piece of technology on their person

21st Century Skills:

  • navigate the internet effectively (when using social networking sites, consider appropriateness of content, photos, comments, etc.)
  • understand and use p.d.a’s for organization (ie. online calendars, e-tickets, etc.)
  • create a positive digital footprint (most of them have already made a footprint but we need to reign in some of our students to a more appropriate level)
  • understand that when something is “deleted” in cyberspace, it’s likely not gone for good
  • finding a balance between being ‘wired’ and ‘unplugged’
  • keeping up face to face social contacts/interactions
  • every action has a reaction and potential consequence – even if you’re hidden behind a cell phone or computer screen
  • remember and appreciate the non-technological aspects of life like family, nature, and homemade chocolate chip cookies 🙂

So that is my list so far, but it is by no means complete and I’m sure it will change and grow on a regular basis. I would like to invite you to add to my list and hopefully it will help to develop a pedagogical consensus of how we view our students. Feel free also to criticize my list as it is by no means perfect 🙂


3 thoughts on “21st Century Skills

  1. I would add to your portrait of the learner this: Feels the need to be connected to peers/social group almost all the time, except when sleeping :), so doesn’t always see the need to be ‘unconnected’ from time to time.

  2. I agree with Tanya – but you have the beginning of a great list in terms of identifying the traits of a 21st century learner. I would add to that list, these students seem to have an increased need and desire to connect with their teachers – in the discussion of rigor, relevance & relationships, students always cite relationships (with teachers) as the key component to keep them engaged in school.

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