Twenty First Century Skills

The skills and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century!

Twenty first century is characterized as the VUCA world; it is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. The world is changing from its linear thinking to exponential thinking and nothing stays constant for a long time. In this scenario, our traditional methods of learning and education is left obsolete. We need to learn how to learn now!

A group of teachers, education experts, and business leaders who realized this came together and collaborated the skills that students need to succeed in their life, career and citizenship. This framework for 21st century learning is now used by thousands of educators and schools as their basis of teaching.

As a business student, I have been imparted several aspects of this framework throughout the course of Entrepreneurship, which is a key paper in my PGDM Curriculum. The paper was taken by Sijo Kuruvila George, founding CEO of Startup Village, Kerala and along with covering the theoretical part of the course, he gave practical knowledge on how to learn and how to make use of the modern technology tools.

So, what does this framework aims at?

  • Transition from learning outcomes into experiences students need to have.
  • Provide students with skills they need in their future.
  • Bring back creativity into education

What is the framework for 21st century learning skills?

P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning

The ten skills are divided into 3 areas: Learning & Innovation, Information, Media & Technology and Life & Career Skills.

1. Learning & Innovation

It focuses on creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. It develops these skills through following ways:

  • Be able to come up with multiple solutions to the same problem

Since every student think differently, they will be able to give different solutions to the same problem. We were asked to brainstorm on finding an app solution to common problems faced by the society. The session resulted in many students forming prototypes for their apps and some even started to learn coding.

  • Be willing to work with a variety of individuals to solve complex problems that require critical thinking

It will help them to work as a team and collaborate to solve complex problems. The group assignments in ENT course benefitted us in being a good team player and work towards a common goal. An important skill of a team player is to resolve conflict of interests, which we gained from the group projects.

  • Analyze information in a variety of formats and draw conclusions using inductive and deductive reasoning

There are times when students need to solve a problem by themselves. This will help them to reason, find solution and feel empowered.

  • Reflect critically upon what was learned to further the learning experience

When a student does not reflect on or apply his/her learnings in real world, that learning won’t be effective. Reflecting will also help them to find areas that require further learning.

2. Information, Media and Technology skills

It focusses on assessing and evaluating information, and utilizing technology to further the learning experience. This skill is developed using following ways:

  • Be able to access and analyze credible online sources

Students should be able to differentiate between credible and non-credible online sources for their research. How to search Google better? It was one of the session taken during the course. Innovations brought about by Google and other search engine giants also changed the traditional belief that sorting is better than searching.

  • Create original online media, while choosing the most appropriate tools.

Students creating their own blogs and videos as part of the course was an example of this. They were exposed to Medium, Slack, Reddit and other technical tools for publishing their blogs and share their learnings.

  • Use a variety of online technologies to analyze and contribute to online knowledge databases.

3. Life & Career Skills

It is focused on creating self-driven, focused individuals who are willing to collaborate with others in real world environments. It can be achieved being:

  • Both flexible and adaptable

It is an essential skills required in the ever changing work environment to be flexible and adaptable

  • Possessing superior time management skills according to goals

A key factor to success in life lies in how punctual you are and how you manage time to complete all your tasks. It helps students to avoid procrastination and not to wait for the deadline to start working.

  • The provider of leadership and guidance for diverse groups of individuals

Not everyone has the same skills and qualities. Every person is unique. A good education will give personalized guidance and leadership to individuals based on their needs and interests.

Current education system is the great grand daughter of an education system brought to India by the British colonists to generate clerks out of us. This system is in dire need of change! As a wise person once said “If it's not interesting, it is not worth continuing!”. Students should have this attitude when they get out of the college and pursue their life.

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