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What is 21st Century Learning?

What is 21st Century Learning?

The quote above is probably the most often misquoted line floating around the internet.  I will be honest and say that I have used it incorrectly from time to time.  The quote is actually an adaptation of a paragraph from Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock written in 1970.  It reads:

“A similar strategy can be used to enhance human adaptability. By instructing students how to learn, unlearn and relearn, a powerful new dimension can be added to education. Psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy of the Human Resources Research Organization phrases it simply: ‘The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, how to evaluate its veracity, how to change categories when necessary, how to move from the concrete to the abstract and back, how to look at problems from a new direction—how to teach himself. Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.’”
This paragraph states the goal of 21st century education.  We want our students to know how to learn, and how to learn well.

Not only is the world changing at a rapid pace, but information is changing at a rapid pace.  Take a look at what happens online in just 24 hours:

  • 241 Billion Emails are sent.
  • 1 Billion searches occur on Google.
  • 460,800 New Twitter Accounts are created.
  • 252 Million pictures are uploaded to Facebook.
  • 18.7 Million iPhone Apps are downloaded.
  • And this one is the shocker…. 98 years worth of video is uploaded to YouTube.
Information from here, here, and here.
While we may find all of that information daunting, the greater task is to educate our students on how to use it.  How can we educate our students on what is valid information and what is not? How can we leverage technology to keep our students abreast of the most current and relevant information, rather than information that might be 10 years old?  How do we empower our students with the information that allows them to be critical thinkers? Basically, how can we give our students the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn quickly?
It may be shocking to hear, but it isn’t about just purchasing devices and putting them out there in the hands of students.  It’s a much bigger process.  To see true success of any 21st Century Learning process, there are several areas that have to be addressed that don’t even have direct ties to technology.
The organization, Project Red, has done quite a bit of research into what makes a successful 1:1 school.  You can read about their findings in this PDF.  What they have found is that successful schools launching 1:1 initiatives focus on what happens in the classroom, not on the technology.  Technology becomes a tool that will enhance learning for the students, but the overall process is not about the technology.
Providing our teachers with high quality professional development that is available anytime, anywhere is a priority that is being designed and implemented as we speak.  This professional development will focus not only on how to use the technology, but also how to design learning scenarios while utilizing technology.
As in everything we do in the Lafayette Catholic School System, developing relationships will continue to be key.  Helping our students develop their relationship with Christ will always stand at the forefront of our education.  We will also always make it a priority of our educators and administrators to develop strong relationships with our students.
Bringing 21st Century Learning to the students of the Lafayette Catholic School System is a priority for our team.  We want to ensure that everyone knows this isn’t a process we take lightly and we are continually making this more than just a “technology initiative.”

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