What is the role of technology in the development of twenty-first century skills among learners?

Saturday, November 6th, 2010 | Computer Usage

It is difficult to imagine how 21st century skills can be developed without the use of technology, particularly computer and communication technologies (ICTs).

Sound computer skills:  You can’t become an accomplished pianist without your fingers regularly touching the keys of a piano.  Likewise, you need lots of practice on computers to develop adequate computer skills.

Information handling:  Before you are given the right to use a car in public, you must learn the rules of the road and prove that you can skilfully manoeuvre a vehicle in heavy traffic.  The internet is often called a super information highway.  This road leads to interesting discoveries, but can be treacherous and dangerous.  Sufficient exposure and practice are required to develop the skill of finding accurate information on the web and then using it effectively.

Knowledge creation:  Computer tools for collecting, collation and manipulation of information – such as databases, spreadsheets and automated statistical tools – are invaluable to the knowledge worker.  If you want learners to become skilful users of these tools, you must expose them to technology as early as possible.

Communication and collaboration:  It is no longer possible to communicate effectively with others without using ICT.  We are not just talking about e-mail – the use of video conferencing, Skype and social networking platforms are gaining popularity as communication and collaboration tools.  Many learners are already using some of these tools for personal communication, and must now to be guided towards employing them for productive purposes.

Innovation:  The first step to innovation is innovative thinking.  Computer tools – such as mind-mapping tools and digital design tools – encourage and develop this way of thinking.  Exposure to innovations published on the internet further stimulates innovative thinking.

These few examples alone should be adequate to show that it is impossible to develop 21st century skills without the use of technology.

Two things are required: learners must have access to sufficient technology in school to develop these competencies, and teachers must have the skills to guide the process.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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4 Comments to What is the role of technology in the development of twenty-first century skills among learners?

chas
Saturday, 6 November, 2010

SIKCI: Technology allows these skills to be honed. Apple technology brings an exciting environment.
Ease of use, stability and free output within the iLife suite and other platforms.

Mark C
Sunday, 7 November, 2010

Chas has a point, but I think another alternative computers running Linux for the same reasons he mentions. It is a great environment to learn and there are many communities that are already established to assist with 21st century skills. The only thing is that there is a steep learning curve and you need a good, reliable internet connection. If you have a computer, this OS is free. Updates are free and you get more than 200 different flavours of the same OS. Choosing one is up to you. The whole idea is that you must be willing to learn how to use it.

John Thole
Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

Innovation is not simply hinged on one idea or one technology. Evidence shows that innovation occurs within the context of a continuum and that it happens over time and in ‘waves.’ Peaks of innovation happen when certain events take place simultaneously and it is for this reason that innovation can be viewed as a process and not as once-off events only. Innovation can be nurtured and developed by providing environments and support where emerging ideas can be harnessed and allowed to flourish. How many of our schools enable and provide such environments? Do most schools squash, constrain or manage possible innovation waves? Sir Ken Robinson speaks very powerfully about the arts and culture being ‘hammered’ out of young people because of the factory mentality of our schools.

[...] Century Skills: Kobus van Wyk considers the role of ICTs in helping users develop 21st century skills. He also provides a technology primer of sorts for [...]

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