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21st Century Skills

There are two schools of thought about 21st century skills. One addresses the skills needed in 'new economies' or 'knowledge societies', making a case that building competence in such skills will generate economic returns to those societies which develop them. Another school argues that while such skills may be needed, many people are and will be employed in low-paying service jobs where such skills are largely irrelevant, and that there exists evidence of growing disparity between rich and poor. The first school of thought's "new economy" skills are addressed in this section, while the second school's ideas can be read in the section Alternative Views: A Changing World. 

In addition to these two schools of thought there are a number of presentations which consider why we need different forms of education to recognize changing skills needed for an evolving world. Some of these are found in the Key Articles and Reports section, but here we include a few links to stimulate thinking on the rationale for new approaches to learning.

Changing skills for a new economy

21st Century Learning Initiative. (2011). Born to learn. [Animation series].  Multimedia icon (video camera) 

BlackboardTV. (2012). The voice of the active learner. Blackboard Inc. Multimedia icon (video camera) 

Chace, Z. (2011, March 4). Want a job? You ought to be a tech geek. National Public Radio.

Consortium for School Networking (COSN). (2008). Learning to change-Changing to learnMultimedia icon (video camera) 

Garriock, R. (2011). Adding the 4Cs to the 3Rs: Making a place for creativity in the curriculum. Education Canada, 51(4): 57-59.

Heffernan, V. (2011, August 7). Education needs a digital-age upgrade. The New York Times.

McLester, S., & McIntire, T. (2006, November 15). The workforce readiness crisis. Tech & Learning.

New Learning Institute. (2010). A 21st century education. [Film series]. Pearson Foundation. Multimedia icon (video camera) 

PBS. (2011, February). Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century. [Documentary]. Multimedia icon (video camera) 

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5). PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants, part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6).  

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). (2010). RSA animate: Changing education paradigms. [Animated adaptation of a talk given by Ken Robinson]. Multimedia icon (video camera) 

TED. (2006). Ken Robinson says schools kill creativityMultimedia icon (video camera) 

TED. (2010). Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! Multimedia icon (video camera) 

Wesch, M. (2007). A vision of students todayMultimedia icon (video camera) 

XPLANE. (2009). Did You Know 4.0Multimedia icon (video camera) 


21st century skills and learning

British Columbia 

British Columbia Ministry of Education. 21st century learning.

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2011). BC Education Plan.

Premier's Technology Council. (2010). Vision for 21st century education. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 


ArtsSmarts. (2010). 21st Century Learning. [Report is free with registration].

Conference Board of Canada. (2010). Employability Skills 2000+. [Pamphlet]. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Friesen, S. (2013). The rich and challenging work of competency-based curriculum. ATA Magazine, 93(4).

Hunter, J. (2011, January). Preparing students for the world beyond the classroom: Linking EQAO assessments to 21st century skills. EQAO Research Bulletin #7. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

United States 

21st Century Schools. (2010). What is 21st century education?   

Fusaro, M. (2009). Five minds for the future: HGSE professor Howard Gardner. Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Gordon, D. (2011, March 7). Return to sender. THE Journal. 

Mathis, W. (2013). Research-based options for education policymaking: Twenty-first-century skills and implications for education. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

The New Media Consortium. (2005). A global imperative: The report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2004). Framework for 21st century learning. 

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2009).  The MILE guide: Milestones for improving learning & education. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Project Tomorrow. (2011). The new 3-Es of education: Enabled, engaged, empowered. How today's students are leveraging emerging technologies for learning. Speak Up 2010 National Findings. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Regan, B. (2008, July 1). Why we need to teach 21st century skills - and how to do it. Internet@Schools. 

Silva, E. (2008). Measuring skills for the 21st century. Washington, D.C.: Education Sector. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Vockley, M. (2008). Maximizing the impact: The pivotal role of technology in a 21st century education system. ISTE; Partnership for 21st Century Skills; SETDA.  PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Wolf, M.A. (2010). Innovate to educate: System [re]design for personalized learning. A report from the 2010 symposium. Washington, D.C.: Software and Information Industry Association, in collaboration with ASCD and the Council of Chief State School Officers. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

United Kingdom 

Enhance Learning. (2009). 21st century learning [Professor Stephen Heppel]Multimedia icon (video camera) 

josepicardo [YouTube user]. (2009). I teach, therefore you learn... or do you? Multimedia icon (video camera) 


Curriculum Standing Committee of National Education Professional Associations. (2007). Developing a twenty-first century school curriculum for all Australian students. (CSCNEPA working paper). PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Whitby, G. (2007). 21st century pedagogy. [Interview with Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.] Multimedia icon (video camera) 


Schleicher, A. (2010). The case for 21st-century learning. OECD Education Directorate.

Singapore Ministry of Education. (2010). Nurturing our young for the future: Competencies for the 21st century. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 


Apple. (2012?). ACOT2: Apple classrooms of tomorrow - today.  

Blackboard Inc. (2013). Education in the 21st century 

Cisco Systems Inc. (2012). Transforming education globally. 

Cisco Systems Inc. (2008). Equipping every learner for the 21st century. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Cisco Systems, Intel, Microsoft, & the University of Melbourne. (2013). Assessment & teaching of 21st century skills (ATC21S). 

Dell & Intel. (2010). Learning, technology, and the future: Catalyzing a new conversation. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

IBM. (2009). Education for a smarter planet: The future of learning 

Intel. (2011). Intel education initiative. 

Intel. (2011). Designing effective projects: Project-based units to engage students. 

Lenovo. (2009?). 21st century learning. [ebook, free with registration].

Microsoft. (2013).  Microsoft in education: Leadership. 

Pearson Canada. (2013). Empowering 21st century learning. 

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