21st Century Learning

21st Century Skills: How do we get there?

Welcome to the Future

In 2010, USD 230 formed a committee in order to understand and integrate 21st Century Learning skills across the district. The committee delineated, defined, and prioritized the following skills:

Communication and Collaboration

Definition of skills: In a global world, everyone must communicate effectively and work together with one another competently and respectfully.

Skill indicators - A 21st century learner: 

Understands, manages, and creates effective oral, written, and multi-media communication in a variety of forms and contents, and for a variety of purposes;

  • demonstrates ability to work and communicate effectively with diverse teams;
  • exercises flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal; and
  • assumes shared responsibility for collaborative work.

Information, Communication, Technology, and Media Literacy

Definition of skills: Information comes to us in a wide variety of media and through a wide variety of technologies. Not only must we develop skills with a range of technology, we must also develop skills with diverse types of application software and use such technology to access, interpret, evaluate, create, and communicate information.

Skill indicators - A 21st century learner:

  • Accesses and evaluates information efficiently and effectively, evaluates information critically and competently, and uses information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand;
  • Understands how media messages are constructed, for what purposes and using which tools, characteristics, and conventions;
  • Examines how individuals uniquely interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded, and how media can influence beliefs and behaviors;
  • Uses digital technology, communication tools, and/or networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge economy;
  • Uses technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information;
  • Possesses a fundamental understanding of the ethical, legal, and safety issues surrounding the access and use of information. 

Responsibility and Leadership

Definition of skills: In our collaborative world, our ethical behavior and our ability to leverage and inspire others to accomplish a common goal are essential. Our actions must demonstrate integrity and our influence and power must be wielded ethically with the interests of the larger community in mind.

Skill Indicators - A 21st century learner:

  • Demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior;
  • Acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind (civic awareness and responsibility);
  • Uses interpersonal and problem-solving skills to influence and guide others toward a goal; and
  • Leverages strengths of others to accomplish a common goal.

Productivity and Accountability

Definition of skills: With so many roles and responsibilities competing for one’s time in our rapidly changing world, it becomes critical that we have the ability to set and meet goals, even in the face of obstacles and challenges; to prioritize, plan, and manage work to achieve the intended goals; and to multi-task and cooperate actively with others to produce quality work.

Skill indicators - A 21st century learner:

  • Demonstrates diligence and a positive work ethic (e.g., being punctual and reliable);
  • Self-monitors the process of developing quality work; and
  • Sets and meets high standards and goals for delivering quality work on time.

Self-Direction and Initiative

Definition of skills: As our world and our responsibilities grow more complex and inter-related, our need to demonstrate self-direction and initiative also increases. By leveraging our power and ability to follow through with plans and projects energetically, and to guide and orchestrate our own learning and growth, we reach higher levels of success both as individuals and as communities.

Skill indicators - A 21st century learner:

  • Monitors his or her own understanding and learning needs;
  • Goes beyond basic mastery of skills and/or curriculum to explore and expand his or her own learning and opportunities to gain expertise;
  • Utilizes time efficiently and manages workloads;
  • Initiates, prioritizes, and completes tasks with minimal oversight; and
  • Demonstrates initiative to advance skill levels towards a professional level and a commitment to learning as a lifelong process.
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