21st Century Skills

Schools today face a serious challenge of preparing students with 21st century skills.  Since the report “A National at Risk” published by National Commission on Excellence in Education in 1983, many similar definitions from different sources have emerged.  However, most definitions point to the same goal: that being technology literate is much more than just having good technology skills. It is learning core subjects with application of these learning skills and communication tools (SREB, What are 21st Century Skills?).

A SREB’s Web site “21st Century Skills and Information and Communications Technologies Literacy: From A Nation at Risk to ICT Literacy” has done an excellent job of compiling information on 21st Century Skills, including standards, instructional resources, assessment resources and organizations and initiatives.  In addition, the site provides an outstanding graphic illustration of key literacy documents that show the evolving development of these literacies from A Nation At Risk in 1983 to the present.

So, what are the 21st century skills?  I have recently read the 2008 report “21st Century Skills, Education & Competitiveness:  A Resource and Policy Guide” published by Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has emerged as the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. They define 21st century skills as follows:

  • Learning and Innovation Skills (creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, etc.)
  • Information, Media and Technology Skills
  • Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes (global awareness, financial literacy, etc.)
  • Life and Career Skills (initiative and self-direction, among others)

The report emphasizes that all Americans need 21st century skills that will increase their marketability, employability, and readiness for citizenship such as:

  • Thinking critically and making judgments
  • Solving complex, multidisciplinary, open-ended problems
  • Creativity and entrepreneurial thinking
  • Communicating and collaborating
  • Making innovative use of knowledge, information and opportunities
  • Taking charge of financial, health and civic responsibilities

Finally, the report summarizes the challenges and opportunities and also warns the consequences.  If we do not infuse 21st century skills into our school curricula, we will diminish our global competitiveness and standing in the world.  Unfortunately, the 21st century skills are not included in many state learning standards or measured on state or local assessments.  I, therefore, urge schools must do more to keep pace with rapid changing technology, embrace new learning based on emerging research, and integrate 21st century skills into standards, assessments, and graduation requirements at all levels. Also, for those of us who involve in teacher education programs, we should embed 21st century skills into teacher preparation and professional development.

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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
This entry was posted in Educational Research, research and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to 21st Century Skills

  1. 陳旭能 says:

    關於本文所列出之21世紀應具備之技能,不論是提到學習與創新之技能、資訊、媒體與科技之技能、21世紀核心議題能力,乃至生活與生涯規劃技能等,均非常貼切與重要。尤其以我任職於台灣大型連鎖企業之人資部門主管多年觀察經驗,在這個員工數超過十餘萬人之企業集團中,我認為對於一般員工應可區分為嬰兒潮時期人類與新人類二族群。其中若對應以上述四項技能時,嬰兒潮時期人類一般較不足為「資訊、媒體與科技之技能」一項;而新人類則對於「生活與生涯規劃技能」有較明顯之欠缺。
    對於企業人才培訓而言,上述之兩代人力特質欠缺方面,恰可為員供訓練計畫擬定時之重要參考—對四十歲以上之員工,企業教育訓練重點應在於新資訊科技、觀念與應用方法之提供;而對於二、三十歲之員工族群,則應在個人內心層次作建設,不論是正確工作觀、道德觀與務實之生涯規劃、專長培養等。此類議題均有待於企業人資主管與訓練企劃負責人、訓練講師乃至單位主管等正視與積極開發。

  2. 陳旭能 says:

    關於本文所列出之21世紀應具備之技能,不論是提到學習與創新之技能、資訊、媒體與科技之技能、21世紀核心議題能力,乃至生活與生涯規劃技能等,均非常貼切與重要。尤其以我任職於台灣大型連鎖企業之人資部門主管多年觀察經驗,在這個員工數超過十餘萬人之企業集團中,我認為對於一般員工應可區分為嬰兒潮時期人類與新人類二族群。其中若對應以上述四項技能時,嬰兒潮時期人類一般較不足為「資訊、媒體與科技之技能」一項;而新人類則對於「生活與生涯規劃技能」有較明顯之欠缺。
    對於企業人才培訓而言,上述之兩代人力特質欠缺方面,恰可為員供訓練計畫擬定時之重要參考—對四十歲以上之員工,企業教育訓練重點應在於新資訊科技、觀念與應用方法之提供;而對於二、三十歲之員工族群,則應在個人內心層次作建設,不論是正確工作觀、道德觀與務實之生涯規劃、專長培養等。此類議題均有待於企業人資主管與訓練企劃負責人、訓練講師乃至單位主管等正視與積極開發。

  3. 鴻如 says:

    此文提到影響21世紀全球競爭力的幾項技術:學習與創新、資訊、科技、影音、核心發展、生活與職業技能,但通常在教育或其他領域,老師或老闆著重的都是在員工的技術能力,而常忽略了與人溝通合作及創新的能力,在強調科技與能力的時代上,於看過這篇文章後,我們是否更應注意的是能力之外是否有獨特力與創新力,會思考之後,是否有反向性的批判性思考與解決問題的能力,對於溝通及合群的能力是否同樣具備!方可成為一個21世紀應有的全方為技能發展!

  4. 鴻如 says:

    此文提到影響21世紀全球競爭力的幾項技術:學習與創新、資訊、科技、影音、核心發展、生活與職業技能,但通常在教育或其他領域,老師或老闆著重的都是在員工的技術能力,而常忽略了與人溝通合作及創新的能力,在強調科技與能力的時代上,於看過這篇文章後,我們是否更應注意的是能力之外是否有獨特力與創新力,會思考之後,是否有反向性的批判性思考與解決問題的能力,對於溝通及合群的能力是否同樣具備!方可成為一個21世紀應有的全方為技能發展!

  5. 莊明廣 says:

    本文引述了2008的報告,加以探討21世紀的技能內涵,我認為有下面的幾項意義:
    1 隨著時代的演變、科技的進步,學生所必須具備的關鍵能力也有所改變,從1983到2008,我們可以發現內容調整不少,創新能力、批判思考、解決問題的能力變得重要了,而應用科技、媒體工具的能力更是不可少,全球意識、生活職業技能等,都反應了時代的快速變遷。
    2因此,提醒了我們,現在學校的課程內涵是否滿足了這些需求,我們的課程教學能夠培養具備這些關鍵能力的學生嗎?如果傳統的課程架構、教學模式無法達成,是否應該引入科技工具,適時的給予協助呢?因為,我們的孩子未來的職場是全球性的、競爭也是全球性的,我們必需及早因應。
    3 而這些改變,除了透過國家的機制、政策的力量因應外,迫切而立即可見效果的是老師的改變,如果教師能夠體察這一層變化與世界脈動,那麼就能運用行動力加以調整因應,這是最直接而有效的方法。

  6. 莊明廣 says:

    本文引述了2008的報告,加以探討21世紀的技能內涵,我認為有下面的幾項意義:
    1 隨著時代的演變、科技的進步,學生所必須具備的關鍵能力也有所改變,從1983到2008,我們可以發現內容調整不少,創新能力、批判思考、解決問題的能力變得重要了,而應用科技、媒體工具的能力更是不可少,全球意識、生活職業技能等,都反應了時代的快速變遷。
    2因此,提醒了我們,現在學校的課程內涵是否滿足了這些需求,我們的課程教學能夠培養具備這些關鍵能力的學生嗎?如果傳統的課程架構、教學模式無法達成,是否應該引入科技工具,適時的給予協助呢?因為,我們的孩子未來的職場是全球性的、競爭也是全球性的,我們必需及早因應。
    3 而這些改變,除了透過國家的機制、政策的力量因應外,迫切而立即可見效果的是老師的改變,如果教師能夠體察這一層變化與世界脈動,那麼就能運用行動力加以調整因應,這是最直接而有效的方法。

  7. 林學志 says:

    老師您好
    我是高師大工教博士班學生 林學志

    生活於現今與未來的人們應具備何種能力或是素養?這個問題似乎常令人感到擔心,其實從工業革命自今約300年來,幾乎人類都在追求創新,當知識體不足時,充實知識體,並生產便利的媒體和工具,而至今多媒體網時代的來臨,應具備的技能是,我個人認為還是創新,舉目所見網路上中大發異彩的工具或媒體,那一項不是具備著創新與創意的元素,之前在多媒體相關科系任教,創新意涵就是一個很重要的核心概念,而今就讀與科技教育相關科系,面對教育領域我仍堅持要掌握創新的元素。
    而正視目前資訊爆炸的時代,當知識體的需求已滿足,是否多重辯證與多哲學觀念的萌發是需要的,其實在我看來持續秉持著創新的概念或想法,也就是掌握了21世紀的核心技能。
    以上看法與大家分享,也期待大家的指教~謝謝

  8. 林學志 says:

    老師您好
    我是高師大工教博士班學生 林學志

    生活於現今與未來的人們應具備何種能力或是素養?這個問題似乎常令人感到擔心,其實從工業革命自今約300年來,幾乎人類都在追求創新,當知識體不足時,充實知識體,並生產便利的媒體和工具,而至今多媒體網時代的來臨,應具備的技能是,我個人認為還是創新,舉目所見網路上中大發異彩的工具或媒體,那一項不是具備著創新與創意的元素,之前在多媒體相關科系任教,創新意涵就是一個很重要的核心概念,而今就讀與科技教育相關科系,面對教育領域我仍堅持要掌握創新的元素。
    而正視目前資訊爆炸的時代,當知識體的需求已滿足,是否多重辯證與多哲學觀念的萌發是需要的,其實在我看來持續秉持著創新的概念或想法,也就是掌握了21世紀的核心技能。
    以上看法與大家分享,也期待大家的指教~謝謝

  9. hsiuminlu says:

    人應該要有問題解決的能力,不論在哪一個世紀,因此問題解決能力我想亦還是21世紀青年應該具備的能力!但除了問題解決能力之外,我想要對事情應該要有批判的能力,因為唯有具備批判的能力才能反思這個世界的潮流與動向,隨時的進行修正,此才可以解救自己時間的浪費,因此認為21世紀青年除了有問題解決能力、批判能力獨立思考能力外,會解救與管理自己時間亦為重要之能力!

  10. hsiuminlu says:

    人應該要有問題解決的能力,不論在哪一個世紀,因此問題解決能力我想亦還是21世紀青年應該具備的能力!但除了問題解決能力之外,我想要對事情應該要有批判的能力,因為唯有具備批判的能力才能反思這個世界的潮流與動向,隨時的進行修正,此才可以解救自己時間的浪費,因此認為21世紀青年除了有問題解決能力、批判能力獨立思考能力外,會解救與管理自己時間亦為重要之能力!

  11. Sung-shan Chang(Charles)張松山 says:

    我們常常在講,面對21世紀,學校或是我們的學生需具備什麼樣的知能與技能,這是非常重要而且嚴肅的話題,常被提到的知能與技能是國際化能力(語文能力)、創新思考能力、批判能力、資訊科技能力、管理能力、21世紀核心議題能力,乃至生活與生涯規劃技能等。
    一般企業或是我們學校在人才招募時,老闆或主考者會問您具備什麼能力?可以為企業(公司或學校)帶來及創造多少價值等等,講實在一點就是你會有多少貢獻度?因為老闆希望出多少錢,就要回收多少。
    所以在全球化競爭激烈的今天,我們不但教育我們的學生除了必需具備足夠的科技技術外,尤其重要的是我們也要教導他們科技文化也是相當重要,核心的能力、如何運用技術的概念,以及溝通的能力等等也都相形重要。

  12. Sung-shan Chang(Charles)張松山 says:

    我們常常在講,面對21世紀,學校或是我們的學生需具備什麼樣的知能與技能,這是非常重要而且嚴肅的話題,常被提到的知能與技能是國際化能力(語文能力)、創新思考能力、批判能力、資訊科技能力、管理能力、21世紀核心議題能力,乃至生活與生涯規劃技能等。
    一般企業或是我們學校在人才招募時,老闆或主考者會問您具備什麼能力?可以為企業(公司或學校)帶來及創造多少價值等等,講實在一點就是你會有多少貢獻度?因為老闆希望出多少錢,就要回收多少。
    所以在全球化競爭激烈的今天,我們不但教育我們的學生除了必需具備足夠的科技技術外,尤其重要的是我們也要教導他們科技文化也是相當重要,核心的能力、如何運用技術的概念,以及溝通的能力等等也都相形重要。

  13. itjil says:

    These articles are very interesting. I agree that all of the skills mentioned are very important for students in today’s world. However, I believe it is not just important in K-12 education. Adult learners also need to be fluent in these skills. That’s where the digital divide really gets us all in a mess. Teachers must be educated to incorporate technology for teaching and for their own professional development, of course, but I think these skills are important for most professions today. I really think that all higher education programs should require more technology courses as mandatory courses to achieve degrees. Because different technology skills are required now, many of the higher learners will be at a disadvantage if they are not only computer literate, but also well aware of social media, social networking, and creating online content. The technology is only going to increase & change, so all people need to catch up as quickly as possible. Should someone graduate with a degree in journalism if they have never used a blog or Twitter? Should business majors receive a degree if they are not competent in the ways social media can affect businesses? I agree that digital natives need and deserve engaging instruction and creative outlets, but it will not happen until their mentors are skilled to provide and exemplify these things.

    I am not a big fan of federal policies that create programs (I won’t even start on No Child Left Behind), but if the government is going to fund any program I think that some of the ideas in the article would be a place to start. It can’t be restricted though. It must not only include K-12, but also workforce training and adult education as well.

    Lastly, I cannot help but say that it really gets on my nerves that these ideas and skills are called “21st century skills.” Most of the ideas packaged into that term are ideas that have been around forever and sometimes I think the new technology aspects override the actual knowledge aspect of educational goals. We have to remember that while the new technologies are wonderful, they must be used as TOOLS in education to get the greater knowledge across to students. The “new school” and “old school” must make ends meet.

  14. Madelon Gruich says:

    I believe expertise falls into three broad categories: general education skills, job-specific skills, and interaction/life skills. All categories of skills are required of any successful worker in today’s job market. To be employable, an individual must be able to read, write, and perform certain math functions. The greater the proficiency, the more successful the individual will be. Additionally, the individual must prove that he/she possesses the skills required to perform the tasks of the specific job for which they were hired. This level of expertise is often the easiest part to assess. After only a limited amount of time, skills which are required to complete the job tasks are quite evident. The third category, interaction/life skills are more difficult to judge. These nonspecific job skills involve those soft skills of knowing how to interact with others, how to tactfully deal with personnel issues—basically, how to get along with people. These skills are the most difficult to teach. Personality traits influence how people deal with people with whom they work and with customers or clients. More people lose their jobs because of the lack of people skills relating to interaction with others, than the lack of job-specific skills related to job tasks.

    Did these skills only become evident in the 21st Century? I think not. Educational institutions have long tried to educate the whole person. Because individuals are all so different physically, emotionally, and psychologically, education is an ever-changing process. What works in one circumstance on one day may not work the next day in similar circumstances. Instructional theory and design undergo name changes, but the vision remains—to educate an individual to become an employable and successful citizen, utilizing whatever appropriate tools and materials are necessary.

  15. Roslyn Warren says:

    I don’t want to sound like a robot, but to piggyback off of other’s comments, Global competitiveness is SO important and the skills that are outlined have been needed today and in yesterday’s classroom. Yet, people are more openly speaking out about it perhaps with the increase in the way that the media portrays us as “competing” or in competition with other countries. Most of these ideals have been a goal, perhaps not on paper. Also, the “school politics” forces many educators to just focus on the nuts and bolts of education (e.g. making sure kids can multiply and substract). So, I also agree that teacher education programs should focus on building 21st century skills. I once saw a commercial that talked about the powerful role that nurses have, and it refers to one nurse in particular and her abiilty to be in so many places and saving so many lives. Then it reveals that nurse educator can impact so many people and this is why “she” can be in so many places at a time. So, starting with teacher education programs is a great start to implementing 21st century programs.

    In my opinion, the gifted education programs should be extended to include other students. Their curriculum is more engaging and more preparatory for work environments, similar to vocational programs. Great article!

  16. 郁茹 says:

    我記得我在成為一個中學老師前,因為要接受甄選,思考了很多學生應該具備的能力,以及老師應該具備的能力,老師和學生的能力息息相關,如果老師不具備有核心能力,那麼學生又哪有可能學習到呢?但是核心能力實在太多,又很重要,我們在教育上一定要深入思考,才能掌握最重要的能力教育給學生,進而由他們自己再去學習次要能力。
    本文提到的能力,包括學習與創新能力(創造力、批判性思考及問題解決等)資訊、媒體應用能力、全球意識及財務知識等,還有生活和生涯技能,這些都是一直被廣泛討論的,而身為一個公民,另外需要創造力、企業家的思維、溝通與合作等相關能力,但是我覺得,這些核心能力其實是不管時代如何變,都是相當重要,所以重點應該放在我們如何擁有這樣的能力,以及教育給學生,我認為可以做的如下:
    1.儘早給學生最核力的能力培養,例如資訊能力是最核心,那就應該儘早紮根。
    2.科學與人文並重,不只教會學生技能,還要給他們最重要人文素養,如誠實、積極有責任。
    3.不侷限在現代生活,放眼未來的能力,未來有許多可能,我們要給學生可以不斷發展的能力,例如資訊應用。
    當然,教師自己的技能再創新,應該要早於學生的能力習得!

  17. 郁茹 says:

    我記得我在成為一個中學老師前,因為要接受甄選,思考了很多學生應該具備的能力,以及老師應該具備的能力,老師和學生的能力息息相關,如果老師不具備有核心能力,那麼學生又哪有可能學習到呢?但是核心能力實在太多,又很重要,我們在教育上一定要深入思考,才能掌握最重要的能力教育給學生,進而由他們自己再去學習次要能力。
    本文提到的能力,包括學習與創新能力(創造力、批判性思考及問題解決等)資訊、媒體應用能力、全球意識及財務知識等,還有生活和生涯技能,這些都是一直被廣泛討論的,而身為一個公民,另外需要創造力、企業家的思維、溝通與合作等相關能力,但是我覺得,這些核心能力其實是不管時代如何變,都是相當重要,所以重點應該放在我們如何擁有這樣的能力,以及教育給學生,我認為可以做的如下:
    1.儘早給學生最核力的能力培養,例如資訊能力是最核心,那就應該儘早紮根。
    2.科學與人文並重,不只教會學生技能,還要給他們最重要人文素養,如誠實、積極有責任。
    3.不侷限在現代生活,放眼未來的能力,未來有許多可能,我們要給學生可以不斷發展的能力,例如資訊應用。
    當然,教師自己的技能再創新,應該要早於學生的能力習得!

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