Learning 21st century skills at JBU
Monday, February 10, 2014
“Wisdom begins in Wonder” -Socrates
In addition to some wonderful alliteration, Socrates captured the essence of learning in four simple words. As educators, our goal is to cultivate both wisdom and wonder in our students as we facilitate a love of lifelong learning. This cultivation begins with us. It is our responsibility as teachers to continue our own personal learning through reading, writing, viewing, participating in professional development, and collaboration with colleagues. Pursuing a graduate degree at JBU has provided an authentic opportunity for me to be a student again and experience learning from a fresh, 21st century perspective.
The landscape of education is currently undergoing massive changes as it tries to keep up with the demands of the global economy. There is much talk of the need to teach our students 21st century skills so they will be prepared for the future, our future. These skills include mastering content, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, and digital literacy. Although the first three skills are not new ideas, the backdrop for the learning has changed greatly from the time of Socrates and Plato, as well as the time many of us did our undergraduate work. The invention of the worldwide web has caused a great divide that must be bridged between many educators and students. For the first time in history, we have digital immigrants teaching digital natives. Many students have digital literacy skills that eclipse those of their teachers. We are faced with the challenge of helping students learn to use their digital skills in an academic setting.
The course work in the masters programs at JBU is steeped in the practices of 21st century skills. I am pursuing my Curriculum and Instruction degree with a concentration in TESOL. I am a digital immigrant. The hybrid nature of my classes has provided opportunities for me to use and refine my digital literacy skills. We meet face to face 50% of the time and online 50% of the time. The new information we are learning in our courses is channeled through a combination of reading textbooks, listening to lectures in person and online, watching videos online, reading articles, and collaborating in person as well as electronically. Our assignments foster opportunities for us to apply what we are learning using critical thinking and problem solving skills with the constant goal of mastering content. I have been introduced to the wonder of using technology to create products such as videos and podcasts, stretching me beyond basic word processing and PowerPoint presentations.
Being a student again has given me first-hand glimpses into the lives of our current students. I am learning to cultivate my own set of 21st century skills which is enabling me to be a more effective teacher and a wiser learner. I am excited about what the future holds. This is truly an exciting time to be a teacher, one filled with much wonder.
JBU MEd Student