We are living in an age where creativity, knowledge and innovation are powering the world at an ever increasing pace. The genesis of these changes is information and communications technology. Creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, digitally adept and adaptable people are now the major socio-economic drivers of the 21st Century. The growth of the knowledge economy is surpassing traditional resource based industries and investors are increasingly locating new enterprises where they can find highly skilled labour pools. Outsourcing and collaboration across virtual networks are becoming mainstays of businesses that need to be constantly innovative to stay competitive and relevant to their customers

The fast paced advancements in information and communication technologies are dramatically impacting economies, societies, governance models and individuals on “digital planet earth.” Many economic, social and environmental opportunities and challenges are increasingly complex and require global solutions. At the same time new immigrants are selecting their new locations and homes based on the quality of education in the area. The quality of learning in schools is now a site selector for both business and immigration

Government and public education leaders must ask: How is public education adapting to these new realities and are we adjusting fast enough to keep pace? Are we preparing our youth for life and work in the 21st Century the right way?

Students will need high level competencies and skills if they are to find the best employment opportunities. The fact is that many of today’s targeted learning outcomes and instructional practices are antiquated and ill-suited for the 21st Century reality. Too many outcomes in curricula are forcing teachers to focus on content coverage versus depth of understanding. Meanwhile, most students have to “power down” when they enter school environments which are ill-equipped to meet their learning styles and technological prowess. A growing number of today’s “digital kids” are disengaging from their learning, citing boredom and lack of relevance. At the same time, many believe students are graduating without the skills needed in today’s society and are calling for a significant shift in the learning opportunities our youth are being offered in our public schools.

Industrial-era models of learning are simply fading in relevance, ill-equipped to meet the needs of today’s “digital generation”, whose brains are hard-wired to the “digital landscape” within which they are living. Public education must evolve on an urgent basis to meet the needs of these new-millennium learners or risk becoming irrelevant.

The 21st Century learning model calls for a significant paradigm shift in what is taught, how it is taught and how progress is assessed. This is an exciting and inspiring model of learning, where creative and innovative thinking and the application of knowledge are the hallmarks of success, versus high levels of content coverage and the regurgitation of facts. The integration of digital technology with pedagogy is an essential element of the 21st Century learning model, and where it is being implemented effectively it is engaging both students and teachers and facilitating a customized and student-interest-based approach to learning.

The new learning model calls for the integration of 21st Century learning competencies into curriculum outcomes and the creation of ICT-rich learning environments. The OECD, European Union, UNESCO, Partnership for 21st Century Skills in the United States, and numerous other international agencies and authors have all identified these competencies as essential to positioning students for success in the 21st Century. And all are calling for these competencies to be core outcomes of public education.

The question is “how”? 21st Century Learning Associates is comprised of a team with extensive knowledge and experience in 21st Century learning models and the processes needed to transform public education. Our services are designed to help you move your education system and your people to where learning needs to be for students in the 21st Century.