29/30 of May I participated in a workshop 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD Workshop) in Kopenhagen organized by Microsoft as part of the Partners in Learning Initiative. European countries were invited to send participants to take part in this workshop. I was invited by Kennisnet to be one of the participants from the Netherlands. The other Dutch representative Petra Fisser, a specialist on TPACK from University Twente and Henk Lamers, consultant 21st Century Skills. The other participants came from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the UK and Portugal. It was a very interesting and professional group to work with. The workshop was led by Deirdre Butler, senior lecturer at St. Patrick’s College, Dublin University, a very professional trainer.
Microsoft defines 21st Century Learning Design as a ” a global professional development program for teachers and schools to develop more innovative pedagogies that develop students’ skills for the 21st Century”. The program is based on the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research project.
In general 21st Century Learning Design asks teachers and school leaders to (1) Analyze and ‘code’ learning activities to see how deeply they integrate 21st century skills, (2) Collaborate in designing new learning activities that provide deeper 21st century skills development, (3) Examine the impact of these learning activities on students’ work and (4) Use ICT as part of the process.
In the workshop we worked on the understanding and improving the 21st Century Learning key concepts and the materials, especially rubrics. The participants were professionals in teacher training, professional development and Educational R&D and were asked to work with the materials, try to understand the key concepts and give feedback on the clarity and the applicability of these concepts and the materials / rubrics for teacher training and professional development.
The rubrics describe six important skills for students to develop: (1) collaboration, (2) knowledge construction, (3) self-regulation, (4) real-world problem-solving and innovation, (5) the use of ICT for learning and (6) skilled communication. The rubrics can be used to analyze learning materials / lesson plans and to use when designing new educational plans and materials. In every rubric you can assign a a number from 1-4(5) according to how strongly it offers opportunities to develop a given skill. We were given examples from the ITL research of learning activities from participating countries.
The training method was clear and useful. It even modeled one training method clearly. We defined and discussed our subjective concept of the skills (whats the big idea), then the trainer explained what ITL’s definition was and the criteria they used to place a activity in a category of use, we looked at the rubric to understand what the rubric used as criteria, then we looked at examples of real-world educational materials in which the skill was included, assign a number from 1-4 (5) to explain how strongly it offers opportunities to develop the give skill.
This way we understood how clear the concept was ( it’s difficult to use not very clear concepts in a training session yourself) and how useful the rubrics were and were able to give feedback on the usefulness of the concepts, the materials and the training method.
A few reflections on my own learning.
- it’s a good idea to use the term 21st century learning and not 21st century skills. Many skills involved were important in the 20st century also.
- working with rubrics is a strong way to get a grip on complex skills and strategies.
- the first four skills were clear and the rubrics were useful
- the last two: use of ICT for learning and skilled communication were much more difficult to define and use in a rubric. Much discussion was needed to work on this and sometimes there was not enough clarity Maybe the first one is not a skill and must be integrated and the second still to vague. Work to be done.
- the numbers were meant to differentiate between different types of educational materials, especially assignments. But 1-5 means for a teacher that 5 is much better than 1, so you use it as a range and you probably want to have only 5’s. This is not what we want, is it? This will be also a problem to deal with in your own training situations.
- the way Deidre led the training was very professional
- the workshop was inspiring and we started to collaborate online using Yammer. we would like to use each others expertise to improve our own work on 21st century learning and the R7D and training activities
- we didn’t work on designing. how can you help a teachers to (re)design his own education, working on 21st century learning. Maybe some other time
On the ITL 21st Century Learning Design page you can find the ITL Research report, more details of the ITL 21st Century Learning Design Program and the rubrics used in the professional development programs and in the workshop in Copenhagen.