The Futures of learning 2: what kind of learning for the 21st century?

Author(s): Scott, Cynthia Luna

Date: 2015

Pages: 22 p.

The past two decades have seen the emergence of a global movement that calls for a new model of learning for the twenty-first century. There is now a significant body of literature focusing mainly on three topics – motivations for a new model of learning, the specific competencies and skills needed to function effectively in the twenty-first century, and the pedagogy required to stimulate those capabilities. This is the second in a series of three papers based on a comprehensive review of the literature. It addresses the competencies and skills that are deemed necessary for today’s societies. While it is generally accepted that formal education must be transformed to enable the new forms of learning needed to tackle the complex global challenges ahead, there is no single prescribed approach to educating young people for the twenty-first century. Multiple sources have identified a variety of competencies and skills that warrant consideration, most of which are absent from current learning processes. Growing concern about potential economic and global crises ahead are leading many to question whether today’s learners possess the combination of critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative and communication skills, necessary to tackle the unexpected developments they will face. This paper explores these skills in depth and highlights several key elements for learning in the twenty-first century including personalization, collaboration, communication, informal learning, productivity and content creation. It also underlines the importance to the twenty-first century workplace of personal skills such as initiative, resilience, responsibility, risk-taking and creativity; social skills such as teamwork, networking, empathy and compassion; and learning skills such as managing, organizing, meta-cognitive skills and ‘failing forward’.

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