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21st Century Learning Initiatives

One of the problems with some of the 21st century learning literature is that it tends to focus on technology but ignores other initiatives which are already attempting to meet new economic and social orders.  This section attempts to widen the focus beyond  technology. Some initiatives shared here focus on the environment and argue that the focus on sustainability might be appropriate for 21st century learning.  Other areas seem minimally addressed in many 21st century learning initiatives - such as the inclusion of students with special needs, or the needs of Aboriginal learners.  Some of these areas may also be minimally addressed in the early development of this web page, but we aim to look for sources which address these areas and place them here as they are identified.

The Education Plan: Ways to engage

The BCTF is publishing a series of short papers which address the central concepts in the BC Ministry of Education’s “Education Plan” 

General initiatives

British Columbia Education Plan

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2012). BC Education Plan.

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2012). BC's Education Plan Engagement: What you've said. 

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2011). Personalized Learning in BC: Interactive Discussion Guide.  

ProvinceofBC [YouTube account]. (2012). BC's Education Plan Progress Update. Multimedia icon (video camera)  


Canadian Council on Learning. 21st Century Learning Initiative (Canada). 

Classroom Connections. (2011). Change Learning (Canada). 

Grand Erie District School Board (Ontario). (2011). 21st century learning.

Toronto District School Board. (2012). Schooling for tomorrow: Visioning, planning and designing educational programs and schools for 21st century learners. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

United Kingdom 

The 21st Century Learning Initiative. (2013).

The Innovation Unit. (2012).

United States

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

The Centre for the Future of Teaching and Learning. (2013).

Council on 21st Century Learning (Colorado). (2011).

Curriculum 21. (2013).

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2011).

U.S. Department of Education. (2011). Competency-Based Learning or Personalized Learning. 



Naylor, C. (ca. 2005). Understanding the concept and evolution of the Multiliteracies literature since 1996, with a consideration of its relevance to a Canadian teacher union engaged in a Multiliteracies collaborative research project. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Desigining social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1).

The State of Queensland (Department of Education and Training). (2004). The New Basics Project. 

Upper Yarra Community House. New literacies & classroom practice. Victoria, Australia.  

Inquiry-based learning for students

Alberta Learning. (2004). Focus on inquiry: A teacher's guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Edmonton: Alberta Learning and Teaching Resources Branch. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required.  


The Center for Ecoliteracy. (2011). What We Do.  

Facing the Future. (2013). (Seattle, WA).

Sustainable Schools Project. (2012). (Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, Vermont).

Building design & learning environments

DesignShare: Designing for the Future of Learning. (2012).

DesignShare. (ca. 2007). Reconsidering the design of schools: Bob Pearlman interview.

OECD. (2013). Innovative learning environments. Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing.

Pearlman, B. (2002). Designing, and making, the new American high school. Technos Quarterly, 11(1).

Pearlman, B. (1993). Designing the new American schools. Communications of the ACM, 36(5), 46-49. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Pearlman, B. (2010). Designing new learning environments to support 21st century skills. In J. Bellanca & R. Brandt (Eds.), 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (chapter 6). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Pearlman, B. (2002). Reinventing the high school experience. Educational Leadership, 59(7), 72-75.

Schulte, B. (2011). 'Clicks' get bricks; Once completely virtual, some K-12 online schools are settling into buildings. Harvard Education Letter, 27(4).

Cautionary tales

We include these sources of information with a general caution that they do not necessarily represent approaches to 21st century learning that fit within public school systems, and may in some cases promote private approaches to learning.  Yet they are all part of the evolving tapestry of 21st century learning initiatives and are therefore included here.

Big Picture Learning. (2013).

Harris Federation of South London Schools. (2013).

Khan Academy. (2013).

Kunskapsskolan (Swedish independent schools).

The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (The Met). (Providence, RI).

San Diego County Charter Schools.

School of Everything (UK).

School of One (New York).

Vaughan, R. (2011, May 27). More than half of free schools are in least deprived areas. Times Educational Supplement. 


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