21st Century Skills Not Always High-Tech

21st Century Skills

21st Century Skills Not Always High-Tech

Aug 1, 2012

CONTEXT, THE 5th C: In response to our commentary on the "4 C's of Digital Age Learning" (included in the BYOT Network's five pearls of wisdom for implementing bring-your-own-device) in ES-Instruct Edition 024, one edSurge reader writes:

"Just a quick note to point out that contrary to your comment 'technology provides new learning capabilities' on the the '4 C’s of Digital Age Learning,' those 4 C's are not really tech-specific despite the 'digital', -- they're essentially the 4 C's for 21st century learning developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, EdLeader 21, the Hewlett Foundation's Deeper Learning initiative and others.

It's important not to conflate those skills that relate to/are enabled by technology with the broader skills/goals of education (that are sometimes achieved through low-tech means, though it's always great when technology can help students achieve them faster/better or help teachers do more/cheaper)!"

We agree that critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration need no iPad to occur in the classroom. Still these skills will likely be used outside the classroom through current and emerging technologies. The NEA, a founding member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, says as much in the FAQ section of its Educators Guide to the 4 C's: "While critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity can all be taught in a low-tech environment, 21st century students need to harness technology to be effective problem solvers, collaborators, communicators, and creators. They must use technology to collaborate with others in communities beyond their own."

The guide does more than answer burning questions. There's also definitions, classroom examples, and resources for each of the 4 C's, and "Next Steps" recommendations for classrooms, departments, school districts, states, and the national level.

A special thanks to our reader for highlighting the true nature of the 4 Cs and nudging us to dive deeper. As always we urge you to keep the comments coming and push the conversation forward!

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