Arming today’s students with the skills they need for the future

What kind of education and skills do today’s students need to be successful as a global citizen, a thriving employee or an innovator of tomorrow? That was one of the key questions being discussed at last week’s Learning and Technology World Forum (LaTWF) in London, a gathering of education ministers and thought leaders from around the world. Over 800 ministers, education experts, academic leaders from 100 plus countries participated in this year’s event to discuss and find solutions to the educational challenges we need to address today in order to give every kid a chance to become a successful 21st century citizen.

I continue to be amazed at the fact that top jobs of today did not even exist 8 -10 years ago – things are changing at such an extremely fast pace. So how can we make sure that what the students learn today is going to help them succeed through their mid careers all the way to retirement? What are the skills that they need to gain and how do we assess them? To address these issues, last year at LaTWF we announced an initiative in partnership with Cisco and Microsoft, as well as other global assessment partners such as the OECD and the IEA. Called the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S), the project aims to research and develop new approaches, methods and technologies for measuring the success of 21st century teaching and learning in classrooms around the world

During the initial year, more than 60 worldwide lead researchers and academics under the leadership of Prof. Barry McGaw created a framework on 21st Century skills, for what skills need to be assessed, and laid the groundwork for how to assess them. Methodological and technological issues were addressed, Learning Environments and Formative assessment elaborated and, political frameworks in the 5 pilot countries were investigated. During the course of this year, we will be working with an initial set of countries to pilot ways to assess these skills. There is a lot of work still to be done on the research front but I am very excited with the start of the pilot phase: not “just” implementing, but feeding back issues and results into research. You can view this video to learn more about the project.

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