21st century skills have been a hot topic in the world of education, and there is an overwhelming amount of 21st century skill information on the web. However, it’s not easy for every education professional to absorb what it means to them and their district.
- The world is more connected, flatter, and moving faster.
Technology evolution, a maturing world economy, dynamic teaming and collaboration. Windows of opportunity are getting smaller as news flows faster. Reaction time is a critical differentiator.
- Information is growing rapidly – and all can contribute.
Information is exploding – but some is accurate, some is not, some are opinions, some are lies, some are personal expressions. Information in the new world is not static – it is interactive and dynamic.
So based on these changes, what are the new and growing skills required in the 21st century? For the benefit of my own school district – and anyone trying to get their arms around the fundamentals – I’ve narrowed the list to seven key skills:
- Information Literacy: Navigating, interpreting and effectively using the explosion of information available to us is critical in the 21st century.
- Media Literacy: IM streams, blogs, streaming video, web conferences – information is being channeled through ever-changing media. The ability to navigate and interpret those media in context, as well as the ability to use those media effectively to communicate are critical skills.
- Information Technology Literacy: The tools that we use to create or access media that contain information are constantly evolving. Understanding exactly which tools to use, and when, in a constantly evolving tools environment is a critical skill.
- Global Literacy: The world is more connected, and insularity is not an option. Awareness, social and cross-cultural skills are valuable.
- Flexibility & Adaptability: The world has always been changing, but change happens – and is communicated – faster. Agility is critical in the 21st century.
- High-Level Knowledge Skills: In a flat world, lower-level skills are a commodity. Critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and innovation are valuable.
- Communication & Collaboration: A connected world requires better communication skills, and the ability to dynamically team to accomplish tasks.
Want to dive deeper? I’d recommend the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. And my colleague Daryl Plummer’s post on 20th century thinking. And, of course, my own thoughts on the impact of the web, social software and cloud computing on education. Good luck, and I’d love comments!