How do we now define “School”?

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.


How should education be structured to meet the needs of students in the 21st century world?

In the 21st century certain skills are required such as:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination (21st Century skills. 2008.)

For these skills to be developed education needs to be well structured. Educators need to implement all kinds of activities in the classroom.

What are 21st century skills?

Creativity and Innovation


  • Think Creatively
    • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
    • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
    • Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts.
  • Work Creatively with Others
    • Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively
    • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
    • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas
    • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes.
  • Implement Innovations
    • Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur when people speak or think of creativity, they mistakenly think of it as having only to do with the visual arts and the other arts. Creativity cuts across all areas, and has to do with making new in all domains (Jane Piirto (2011)).


Critical Thinking and Problem Solving


  • Reason Effectively
    • Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation.


  •  Use Systems Thinking
    • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems


  • Make Judgments and Decisions
    • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
    • Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
    • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
    • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
    • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes


  • Solve Problems
    • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
    • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions.  (Partnership for 21st Century skills, 2011).


Communication and collaboration


  • Communicate Clearly
    • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts
    • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions
    • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade)
    • Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact
    • Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multi-lingual)


  • Collaborate with Others
    • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
    • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
    • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member.  (Partnership of the 21st Century, 2011).

What is the 21st Century?

Diana Oblinger, vice president for EDUCAUSE, summarized in her description that people in the 21st Century is also known as ‘net generation’, ‘millennial students’, ‘generation Y’ and ‘digital natives’.  By the age of 21, these students will have spent 10 000 hours playing video games, sent 200 000 emails, watched 20 000 hours of television, spent 10 000 hours on a cell phone but less than 5 000 hours reading.  The 21st century is thus a century where technology plays a big role in the everyday lives of the people living in it.  In the 21st century students tend to be multi-taskers; they use sounds and images to convey content.  The 21st century is where people use technology as the universal source of information.  In the 21st century people don’t really use libraries anymore, because everything is available on the internet.  They can stay at home and do the research they need to.  The response in the 21st century would invariably involve a quick Google search.  It is where terminology such as “chat”, “Blog”, “Text Messaging” and “IM” is commonly used.

As we enter a new millennium, most people are by now aware that we are in the midst of one of the most dramatic technological revolutions in history that is changing everything from the ways that we work, communicate, and spend our leisure time. The technological revolution centres on computer, information, communication, and multimedia technologies, is often interpreted as the beginnings of a knowledge or information society, and therefore ascribes education a central role in every aspect of life.  (Kellner, D.).