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21st Century Learning

What Do 21st Century Learners Need?

Bloom's Toxonomy, Constructivism and 21st Century Skills

Blooms Taxonomy has long been used to describe and organize thinking behaviours that are considered important to learning outcomes. Describing differing levels of complexity, Benjamin Bloom organized learning into six major categories, from the simplest behaviour to the most complex. At the more basic end of the spectrum is knowledge, with the most complex demonstration of learning being described as evaluation.

The 6 levels including sample outcome verbs are listed below:

Technology and Bloom's Toxonomy

The wide spread adoption of technology has resulted in a group of cognitive psychologists, led by Lorin Anderson (a former student of Bloom), modernizing Bloom's original taxonomy/hierarchy. Reflective of the new core competencies associated with the integration of technology into the classroom and workplace, the updated taxonomy places creativity at the highest level of cognitive skill.

The following diagrams compare Bloom's original taxonomy to Anderson's revised taxonomy (Blue/Original - Yellow/Revised):

Bloom's comparison

Digital Bloom's

Bloom's DigitalBloom's Digital Explained

International Society for Technology in Education

Consistent with Bloom’s higher order thinking skills and constructivist philosophy, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) describes the types of digital age skills 21st century learners need. The core skills outlined below emphasize innovation, collaboration, global citizenry and critical thinking: As outline in the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) the 6 core technology standards for students are defined as:

(Refer to the ISTE/Nets Performance Indicators for Students for a More Detailed List of Skills and Indicators)

Although the need for higher order thinking skills is not necessarily new the emphasis on them will continue to increase for students earlier and earlier in their education. With 5 year-olds showing up in kindergarten plugged in and connected, computer literacy skills are now as fundamental as the ABC’s of yester-year. With limitless access to internet based information, even very young students now need to learn the critical evaluation skills necessary to assess the quality and reliability of these sources.

In addition, as globalization, free trade, and technology have all converged to turn communities of place, into communities of interest, 21st century learners need to develop global and digital citizenship skills. As defined by ISTE, “Digital Citizenship ensures students understand human, cultural and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behaviour.” According to Ribble (2007) The 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship are defined as:

1. Digital Etiquette
2. Digital Communication
3. Digital Literacy
4. Digital Access
5. Digital Commerce
6. Digital Law… including copyright and fair use
7. Digital Health and Wellness
8. Digital Security
9. Digital Rights and Responsibilities

In order to demonstrate appropriate online bahaviour, today’s students need to learn the rules of Netiquette , an entire new Internet venacular using emoticons and Internet Slang, and to become open and culturally sensitive to their new friends and classmates from around the world.

With English functioning as the common language of the internet, and global communications becoming the norm, we need to give increased focus to cross cultural communications and differences. Although it is natural and normal to assume what is normal to us is normal to everyone, basic conventions such as what constitutes a polite request, plagiarism and the appropriateness of paraphrasing experts vary from culture to culture. Today’s learners (students and teachers alike) need to develop improved cross cultural communications awareness.

Finally, no discussion regarding digital citizenry would be complete without ensuring that the ethical dilemmas emerging from widespread internet use such as cyber-bullying, internet addictions, and the Digital Divide are part of the curriculum of the technology-advantaged student. Describing the social and political implications of the gap between people with access to technology and those with limited or no access at all, the term "digital divide" has evolved over time to encompass a number of individual and infrastructure level access factors resulting in disadvantage. These include: socioeconomic status, gender, race, age and location. The term global digital divide refers to differences in technology access between individual countries and the rest of the world.

21st Century Skills and the Workplace

The Seven Cs

Not just limited to academia, the skills identified by ISTE are also reflective of the core requirements and changing realities of today's and tomorrow’s work force. Seventeen core skills, grouped into 4 categories, are identified by Professor Lawrence Jones as job skills for the 21st century:

Foundation Skills are grouped into four categories:

The Basic Skills

The Thinking Skills

The People Skills

Personal Qualities

Download Foundation Skills PDF:
The Career Key:

Most of all what 21st century learners need is 21st Century Teachers!

Next up, see Creativity Needs Arts & Humanities