Can you teach 21C skills without technology?

Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies – it happens when society adopts new behaviours.
– Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, p. 160

So my colleague Cat Lee posted this on Twitter a while back, and it started me thinking. Right away I wanted to answer, “Yes” then thought that a question like this deserves a lot more critical thought. The question asks us to separate behaviour and learning from hardware. I’m okay with that.

With that in mind, what are the skills necessary to be a 21st century contemporary learner? There are more than enough lists to choose from and I don’t think any one particular set of skills can (or should) be ranked higher or lower than any other. Three general areas keep coming up over and over,

  • Foundational Knowledge
  • Meta-Knowledge
  • Humanistic knowledge

Students working in tomorrow’s marketplace are going to require creative and critical thinking skills, a broad inter-disciplinary base and they will need to be able to play well with others. I suppose these could all be taught to some degree of effectiveness without technology. I’m just not entirely sure that’s the best plan of attack.


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