Who is changing? Is it our students, or the world around them?

Suggested Reading for this section:

As the video explains, we live in exponential times, where the pace at which things change is rapid and increasing. What are the skills we need to foster in our students to handle this changing workplace? The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has produced these as the essential skills that all students must possess as they leave high school:
Every student in this nation must be:
• A critical thinker
• A problem solver
• An Innovator
• An effective communicator
• An effective collaborator
• A self-directed learner
• Information and media literate
• Globally aware
• Civically engaged
• Financially and economically literate

They've developed a model based on these ideas that works within the NCLB framework.


Social Networking in Plain English

We all may still be wondering what the reasons are that our students, some as young as 7 and 8, are doing in online social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Meebo, or for the younger set, Club Penguin or Xanga. This video might help clear up some of the confusion.

Social networking has not escaped even the Democratic Presidential candidates in importance. Take for example My.barackobama.com, where you can join thousands of other Obama supporters in a huge online social network. Or go to Hillary Clinton's page and start your own blog right from her main page. This is a phenomena that engages our students like we have not seen.

The prevailing notion I hear among educators is that it is a waste of time, something to be done in lieu of homework. However, I ask, is it all bad? 21stcenturyskills4.jpg

These two graphics show the results of two surveys done on groups of students as part of a report entitled "CREATING &CONNECTING:Research and Guidelines on Online Social — and Educational — Networking" commissioned by the National School Boards Association. In this first set of pie charts, students admit to spending as much time in their social network talking about school work and topics related to classes as they did everything else.

There is potential here. If our students are voluntarily expanding the walls of the classrooms through social networking, we can use this. We can and should be teaching, or better yet, guiding our students to access these invaluable learning environments.

The second graph depicts their activities broken down into further categories. A few to note:
  • Posting messages
  • Posting photos
  • Blogging
  • Creating and sharing virtual objects
  • Sending suggestions or ideas to web sites
  • Participating in collaborative projects
  • Creating polls, quizzes, or surveys


"Developing a Framework for 21st Century Learning." The Competitive Edge: Equipping Students with 21st Century Skills. San Francisco, CA. April 14, 2007.
Lang, Vockley. United States. NSBA.Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Social and Educational Networking. 2007.