Through technology we gain international awareness in the sense that it enables us to connect with diverse people from all over the world, even from remote places, to share ideas, address problems and learn from one another. The mastering of 21st Century skills is essential for joining in this revolution to connect, communicate, collaborate and change. The idea of the global classroom is that students are being prepared to be global citizens, to develop global competencies through exposure to other cultures and languages, in order to work together globally and to take advantage of opportunities in a globalised world. The global classroom gives learners the opportunity to develop life-ready competencies such as innovation, cross-cultural understanding and resilience (Ministry of Education Singapore, 2010).
The fundamental purpose of education is to teach a person to read and write, that is to make him literate. Reading abilities that are acquired in school go a long way in enabling an individual to read more and more. And every bit read, is a new lesson learned. The fundamentals of science and math which one acquires during school are pillars on which his understanding of life is based. How did you know the Earth is round? Who told you why the sky looks blue? How did you know 2 + 2 is 4? How did you know you have 10 fingers, two eyes and a nose? It’s through education that you learned about yourself and the world around you. That’s the basic purpose of education – to make an individual aware.
Education helps an individual acquire social skills, which enable him to interact with people around, maintain social relations and blend well with others in society. Educations are an individual’s tool to thrive in society. As a part of the educational system, every individual learns with a group of other individuals of his age. Throughout education, he is part of a larger group. These years expose him to competition. This is when an individual tastes both successes and failures. Education also helps in the building of interpersonal skills. This is what education is aimed at – development of social skills.
An aim for education is to develop each child’s potential to the fullest so that he or she can perform in the best way they possibly can. It is also important to create a opportunity of life long learning for the learner.
In the 21st century everything has to do with technology. Without technology most of the people are lost. Technology obviously plays a big role in schools to accompany 21st century education. Technological recourses that are used in South African schools are a bit behind then overseas because of our lack of resources. When you look at schools in America children take their notebooks and their ipads to school only working on them making the learning process so much faster and effective. Another thing that lack in South Africa is the fact that children in rural schools do not only have the resources but they lack the knowledge that goes with using the resource. Other resources we can use in the school can be in a subject like science or biology. They work with microscopes and they need all kinds of equipment.
Technologies are not an end in themselves; technologies are tools students use to create knowledge and to create personal and social change. There should be full access to technology. If students do not have computers or access to the Internet at home, together we will find a way to provide them. If we can, we will obtain laptops for every student and teacher. Buildings will need to be wired in such a way that students can access their files, as well as the Internet, from anywhere in the school. Various labs and learning centres should be set up around the campus. Art, music, theatre, television, radio and film studios can be created with relatively small expenditures. All classrooms should have televisions to watch broadcasts created by their school as well as by other schools in the district.
Green Education Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides curriculum and resources to K-12 students and teachers worldwide with the goal of challenging youth to think holistically and critically about global environmental, social, and economic concerns and solutions.
Our planet and its citizen residents are facing a growing number of issues related to the environment. Education is the key. From environmental awareness to producing scientists, politicians, international relations experts, media producers, and others, our schools will assist students in finding the answers to our environmental problems.
Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to
- Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
- Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
- Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
- Manage, analyse and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
- Create, critique, analyse, and evaluate multi-media texts
- Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
As commented in a blog on 21st Century education, two media literacy skills that are of the most important includes information skills, which refer to the searching for, assessing the relevance of and employing information for own purposes, and technology adoption skills, which refer to using mobile, PC and Internet tools (http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/21-definitions-for-a-21st-century-education/). The skills of analysing and creating messages in a variety of forms are important, ranging from printed words and pictures to videos on the Internet.
Media literacy also entails an understanding of media in society and the acquisition of the necessary skills of effective inquiry and self-expression as an individual. Another important media literacy skill which is sorely needed in the 21st Century is becoming competent, critical and aware enough concerning the media that each person controls the interpretation of what they see or hear, rather than letting the interpretation control them. The Center for Media Literacy terms this as a “critical autonomy” meaning that one has the ability to think for oneself and to judge the content of media to be useful or valid or simply untrustworthy (http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/what-media-literacy-definitionand-more).
The curriculum of the 21st Century should have the goal of producing innovative, inquiry-driven, relevant practices in education, which makes use of multiple literacies and combining the tools of technology with the skills of critical thinking, to stimulate authentic learning opportunities for all learners anywhere, anytime. This curriculum should empower individuals to become collaborators and creators of solutions to global problems. The technology and tools used in education could become obsolete within decades; therefore the curriculum of the 21st Century should enable learners to become lifelong learners, according to opinions on the blog site Edtech Digest (http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/21-definitions-for-a-21st-century-education/).
Learning becomes now a lifelong process of coping with change – in the environment, technology, education and professions, to name a few. With the rate of information growth increasing continuously, it can be argued that education must place less emphasis on the amount of material memorised and much more emphasis on drawing connections, thinking through and solving problems. Learning how to learn is becoming the foundation of education in the 21st Century (Rodgers, M. et al., 2006).
Today’s learners have a different relationship with both information and learning than previous generations, due to their access to the Internet and computer-driven technologies. These learners go by the descriptions of “Net-generation” learners, “Millennial students”, “Generation-Y” and “Digital Natives”. The traits of today’s learners include being skilled multi-taskers, gravitating toward group activities, being at ease with racial and ethnical diversity, and intensely craving social interactivity. While traditional learners from the 19th Century preferred working on single, limited tasks, learning with text as main display of information, appreciated linear, logical and sequential structure and learned independently and individually, the learner of the 21st Century can multitask on several learning possibilities, prefers pictures, sound and video as main source of information and learns interactively through networking (Rodgers, M. et al., 2006).
The focus has moved away from teacher centred education to classrooms where the focus has been placed on learners. This means that the teachers’ role has shifted from being the centre focus of knowledge transfer, to that of empowering learners to acquire their own knowledge base. By incorporating technology, media and other valuable resources into their lesson plans, teachers become important instruments in transferring not only knowledge but technological literacy in a world where the emphasis is placed on the acquisition of these skills.
The 12 roles of a teacher:
1. Lecturer in classroom setting
2. Teacher in clinical or practical class setting
3. On-the-job role model
4. Role model in the teaching setting
5. Mentor, personal advisor or tutor
6. Learning facilitator
7. Planning or participating in formal examinations of students
8. Curriculum evaluator
9. Curriculum planner
10. Course organizer
11. Production of study guides
12. Developing learning resource materials in the form of computer programmes, videotape or print
(Harden, R.M., Crosby, J. 2000).
In the 21st century the schools have made a paradigm shift, from being the only source of information and knowledge to being a resource in obtaining this information and knowledge from various resources. This shift has caused schools to become more than just four walls in which learners acquire knowledge through autocratic means, but rather where they learn to become lifelong learners by utilizing technology and media resources in their information gain.