Technology and 21st Century Learning

You've probably heard of the 21st Century Learning Initiative. There's a good chance you think it is mostly about technology in the classroom. But that's a misconception.

The 21st Century Learning Initiative has more to do with applying a Constructivist approach to learning to the pedagogy of the classroom than it has to do with technology. If I had to describe the 21st Century Learning Initiative, I would phrase it something like this: It is the conceptual space where modern brain research, Constructivist learning theory, school reform, and the demands of the 21st Century workplace come together.

One of the fascinations that I have with the movement is this. On the one hand, I'm a special education teacher; special education, more than any other field of education, seems to cling to Behaviorist learning theory. On the other hand, I have a background in linguistics and a profound interest in reading education, and I know that language behavior is the place where Behaviorism is least useful in explaining or predicting learning.

Ultimately, the 21st Century Learning Initiative seems to be about promoting higher level thinking skills in the classroom and making the educational experience (particularly at the secondary level) relevant to life outside the classroom and after high school. That is where technology comes in. Technology is a tool for the 21st Century, it is a context for life in the coming decades. Students need to be able to cope with it and use it productively. But while productivity might imply familiarity with the tools, it places more emphasis on what students actually write when they use a word processor than on whether the students can use a word processer.

An example of this idea is a book I reviewed recently by Ted McCain. McCain is a technology person and an educator who writes and speaks about 21st Century Learning. I reviewed his book Teaching for Tomorrow: Teaching Content and Problem Solving Skills. To be honest, I was pretty hard on McCain. While he said things I didn't like, the truth is that chapter three of his book provides an excellent approach to teaching problem solving. And his book illustrates my point: he's a technology person who seems (in this book at least) more concerned with thinking skills than technology proficiency.

For any of you who have read McCain's book, I'll leave you with this question: Was I too hard on McCain?

Greg Cruey, Guest Blogger

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less