Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a national organization dedicated to education reform aimed at better preparing students for the workplace, citizenship, and leadership through ICT literacy. This organization represents a collaboration between “the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to define a
powerful vision for 21st century education.” Their website is a great place to view real examples of teachers integrating technology into their curriculum to better connect their content to students’ lives and future work.

The Partnership presents the Framework for 21st Century Learning, which includes core subjects, as always; but adds “Learning and Innovation Skills, Information, Media and Technology Skills, Life and Career Skills, and 21st Century Assessments.” I am pleased that the importance of content knowledge is in no way diminished by the addition of ICT literacy, according to this vision. Ideally, content learning is enhanced by the use of tools and strategies that businesses expect students to become familiar with.

I am not surprised to see Learning and Innovation Skills included in the outcomes for 21st Century learning, since critical thinking and problem solving skills, creativity, innovation, communication, and collaboration are all skills that have been emphasized in my own coursework, and in my Language Arts classroom. Nor am I surprised by the call for Information, Media and Technology Skills. Clearly, in the 21st Century, students, employees, and citizens need the ability to “access and assess information.” It makes sense that 21st Century Assessments should come along with this curriculum, too; since it is important to develop meaningful assessments for all of these types of skills and knowledge.

The outcomes that do surprise me are the Life and Career Skills. The partnership calls for us to “incorporate these essential skills into schools deliberately, strategically and broadly.” Included as Life Skills are: “Leadership, Ethics, Accountability, Adaptability, Personal Productivity, Personal Responsibility, People Skills, Self Direction, and Social Responsibility.” As an educator, this list seems a bit overwhelming on top of the curriculum that has already been articulated for my classes. However, these do seem like important life skills; and they are skills that businesses are asking for. Fortunately, there are examples and resources available at this website to help educators engage students in meaningful work that will prompt them to develop these skills.

The Partnership urges business leaders and community members “to partner with local school districts to help create an educational system that better prepares today’s students for tomorrow’s workplace.” Through these “Public-Private” partnerships we can define the skills needed to succeed in the workforce while developing real, community-based learning opportunities for students and teachers. I believe collaborating with the business community and convincing business leaders of the value of investing in education will be fundamental to funding advancements in the use of technology in public schools. Here is a site that seeks to encourage this; and to push 21st Century Skills to the forefront of the Education agenda in the United States.

In my own work as a teacher, I continue to educate myself about technology and methods for using it to make learning more relevant, more personalized, more forward-thinking, and more global. I strive to prepare my students for creative careers that may not even exist today. I have bookmarked The Partnership for 21st Century Skills website as a valuable teaching resource, and as another place to connect with other educators who are addressing the importance of ICT literacy in the classroom.


Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 2004. Retrieved Jan. 25, 2010 at


  1. Hi Sherrie,
    21st Century Skills are very important for our students to learn to be successful in their futures. Technology is really interlinked in everything we do as a society. Students need these skills to be lifelong learners. I agreed with your statement that when reading through the website it was a bit overwhelming as to effectively include this information into my teaching and my classroom, but I really feel the website gave appropriate guidance and support for educators. The support system that was provided on the website was definitely helpful, but I think for the program to be a success the school district and the state have to mandate/require the program in schools. This support would provide us with the appropriate resources and immediate support in the school system that we would need to effectively teach our students. What are your thoughts on the implementation of this program in your school?
    The partnership between businesses and schools would truly be a connector for students and the workforce. I believe this would make education and learning more real for students. My students in many ways know more about technology than I do because they have grown up with it and they are dependent and entertained with technology. When I teach a lesson that involves technology my students are more observant and excited about the material. They collaborate more with their classmates and they are creative. It was stated that, “Now, with incredible amounts of information available through the Web, we find a "new" kind of learning assuming pre-eminence-learning that's discovery based. We are constantly discovering new things as we browse through the emergent digital "libraries." Indeed, Web surfing fuses learning and entertainment, creating "infotainment." (Brown, 2002). In addition to this, the workforce depends on technology and the use of the internet therefore student’s excitement over the use of technology will benefit them in their future career. As an educator I feel the obligation to prepare my students appropriately for their futures. The 21st Century Skills and Partnership provide the knowledge and the missing link for educators, students, and the workplace.
    Brown, J. S. (2002). Growing up digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn. USDLA Journal. Retrieved from

  2. Hi Sherrie,

    I can understand that incorporating these skills in already too full curriculums to be very overwhelming. It is great that the website provides way to incorporate these skills into our curriculums. I think that as a teacher, I would begin to incorporate these skills slowly, to not overwhelm myself or the students. I agree with you able continuing to learn more about technology and how to incorporate into our classrooms. Before I had been to take this class, I stuck with the basic things such as PowerPoint and simple things like that. Now that I am taking this course I have learn new technologies such as wikis and blogs. I feel that the more I learn about new technologies the better I can prepare my student for the future workforce.

  3. Hi.

    You mentioned that it is important for us to collaborate with the business community. Are you or your school doing this now or do you have plans to do this in the near future? If so, what are you doing? How do you set this up? What successes or failures have you experienced? I'd like to learn from you so that I, too, can collaborate with our local businesses.

    Thank you!


  4. I agree with your comment that it is overwhelming to have so much material to cover and the added responsibility of technology. In the ideal world we would have the resources to integrate the two and it would be beneficial to both students and educators. I feel that the 21st Century skills provide a great base and ideas in which to springboard these technologies over time. Before, I thought I was incorporating technology into my class, although now I realize there is so much more I can do such as blogs and wikis. As an educator as well as a student, I realize that long-term learning takes place when students are engaged and have ands on experience, not just sitting through lectures and taking notes. By experimenting and trail and error, students learn to be creative and complete tasks. As Richard stated, creativity is one of the most important characteristics of today’s students that need to be nurtured and encouraged. Through technology we can certainly open doors to our statements that to the past generation was unavailable.
    Have you seen a difference in your students enthusiasm level since you started using technology into your classroom, I know I have.

  5. Reference
    Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms(2nd. ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:Corwin Press.


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