What is 21st century learning?

What is 21st century learning? This is a question I pondered all of last year. My thinking started around what skills will be needed by our students when they leave school, and I was recommended 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times (Fadel & Trilling, 2009), but after reading through this book I was still stuck with the question of ‘what is 21st teaching and learning?  How do I do the teaching and how do I help my students do the learning?  I was left feeling there must be more than teaching a whole new skill set, as these skills could be taught in the same old way, of direct instruction from the teacher.  Surely more has to change than just the skills or content we covered.

Fadel & Trilling  (2009) did help me with my thinking by pointing me towards research into how people learn.  In particular Powerful Learning: What we know about teaching for understanding (Darling-Hammond, 2008). This led me to ask the question ‘what is the best learning and teaching based on research?’  It is a very different question to ‘what is 21st century teaching and learning?I don’t think we should limit our description of teaching and learning to a ‘time stamp.’ A decade into the 21st century the moniker already sounds dated.

Combining the research on how we learn (Darling-Hammond, 2008)  with research on what teaching practises work, collated by Hattie (2009), I had my thinking about successful learning develop around some key concepts.21st C learning

  • student centred personalised learning paths
  • learning tasks that produce and enhance deep thinking and metacognition
  • collaborative / cooperative learning involving open-ended problems
  • active teacher involvement which most importantly involves formative feedback

Each of these is supported by research to effectively improve student outcomes, but should not be treated as separate elements, rather as a set of integrated, interdependent  areas that support each other in the goal of enhancing student achievement.

These elements will be what I will be focusing on this year, as I evaluate my approach to what I do in my classes.

Darling-Hammond (Ed.) (2008). Powerful Learning: What we know about teaching for understanding. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fadel, C., & Trilling, B. (2009). 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Wiley.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.


  1. […] the focus was to compare how what we do in day-to-day teaching at my school compares to the research […]

  2. Hi, Jonathan! GiGi here. a newbie in blogging. Would like to use your comic strip on ‘active teacher'(21st learning) for my e-portfolio. I really love it. Thanks!:)

    • Dear Gigi, I’m glad you like it and that it can be of some use to you. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

  3. I mean, 21st century learning..:)

  4. Some best colleges that are known all across the globe are IIM; XLRI, Jamshedpur; SP Jain, Mumbai;
    FMS, Delhi; ISB, Hyderabad; Narsee Monjeee Institute
    of Management Studies, Mumbai; Symbiosis Institute of Business
    Management, Pune, and more. One way to find such firms is by going through business bureau websites.
    Go to the online forums, there may be one one your
    topic, and see what is being discussed. This is because prospective recruitment managers will see it as a good quality in you.
    Sometimes parents are the last to see the eating disorder because they
    want to believe their daughter’s responses to their questions.
    I cannot hope to do justice to him and his wide accomplishments but I want to mention three hidden aspects
    of his legacy that live on in the daily lives of students and members of NCAA.

    If you really want the Rocket Piano download, purchase
    it without any doubt. – https://gpa-calculator.co Thank you

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply to gigisunlife Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: