Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Learning in the 21st Century -- An Overview

"What you do there has a chance to influence any learner or education professional anywhere on this planet, and someday in this century your contributions will be felt far beyond planet earth" (Bonk, 2009, p. 30).

In the domain of education, teachers and educators are finding out firsthand how revolutionizing the technological age is for the classroom.  Technology has transformed our world into one that is constantly sharing the most recent news, update, or statistic into a free and open domain we now know as the Internet.  As Dr. Curtis Bonk states in his book The World is Open, we are currently in an era that can be termed as the learning age.  In this era, learning is instantaneous.  At the click of a button, technology has allowed learners to have choice in their education--what they learn, where they learn, and how they learn.  It has transformed learning from a process of absorbing information to a process of sharing content all over the world.  This transformation of learning is one that must be modeled in education.  Dr. Bonk states, "Unlike traditional stand-and-deliver classes, the sun never truly sets in the world of online learning.  The implications of this change allow students to play a more self-determined role in their own learning.  While this openness of sharing content is advantageous, it also raises challenges such as equal access to technology, privacy and copyright issues.  It also requires teachers to prepare students to participate in the 21st century education.  This will entail modeling strategies for students that require students to be collaborative workers, critical thinkers, and self-determined learners.  

In this new learning era, the skills that students must learn are vastly different than any other educational period.  As Dr. Bonk explains, we have changed from a era of drilling learning to one of enhancing learning, to one of extending learning, to the current era of transforming and sharing learning.  Each of these eras requires students to learn, understand and apply different skills and strategies.  In this 21st century, the skills that students need to develop are ones that combine technological strategies and higher order thinking methods.  These methods allow students to show creativity, be innovative, and apply problem solving and critical thinking skills.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is an organization that readies students to participate in the 21st century in order to engage in the global economy by building upon these skills.  The Framework of this organization is described in the structure below.

This Framework combines a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies with innovative support systems to foster student 21st century abilities.  The arches of the rainbow in the above Framework are the 21st century skills student outcomes and the pools at the bottom represent the 21st century support systems.  This Framework suggests that students must be engaged with real world examples in order to build these 21st century skills into multiple measures of mastery.  The potential outcome of a pedagogical framework such as this is to emphasize a deep understanding across and among core subjects as well as 21st century interdisciplinary themes.  

As stated by Dr. Bonk, "Technology by itself will not empower learners.  Innovative pedagogy is required" (2009, p. 33).  In order to prepare our students in this learning era, teachers must make sure to combine not only their content and pedagogical knowledges, but also their technological knowledge.  This model is known as TPACK.  The Framework for this model is described in the graphic organizer below.

This model emphasizes the combination of technological, pedagogical and content knowledge in order to authenticate connections and build understanding for students.  I really like this model because it is supposed to be made specific for each classroom of diverse students.  When teachers create lessons by using this model, they are constantly developing strategies for students to become better 21st century learners.


  1. Love the title of your blog!!
    There are so many positive aspects of incorporating technology into the classroom environment yet I wonder how effective this technology will be when many classrooms have at most maybe 5 computers for upwards of 30 students. I am excited to learn about the wide variety of tools we can implement within the curriculum but also hope we learn how we can effectively manage the amount of time is allotted for each student to be able to engage with the tools.

  2. I love the layout of your blog. Integrating technology into the classroom is a challenge for many teachers. Many teachers feel that it is a lot of work to sift through websites to find ones that are of substance and would help students be successful. They also find it increasingly difficult to use the limited resources they may have at their school or the limited training they have had in regards to technology. Having all this information at the click of a button is a good thing only if you have the knowledge of how to use it and incorporate it such as in the TPACK model. Teachers feel they have to be experts, however I am learning that I can learn along with the students.

    Larissa Bryant