Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Education for the 21st Century

Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Education for the 21st Century

Article excerpt

Introduction

Over the past generation, educational researchers and practitioners have advanced the state of teaching and teacher training. Also in the past thirty years, widespread use of digital technologies has been moving societies from the industrial era to the information era. Due to advances in education and technology, societal norms for communicating, socializing, retrieving information, and learning have changed. Given such changes, how can teachers today make education relevant to 21st Century learners? What should teacher educators do for pre-service and in-service teachers as they seek to prepare students to function and prosper in the 21st Century? What reforms to educational systems will help prepare 21st Century learners? One can find various responses to those questions in disparate educational commentaries, but finding responses to those questions from a panel of educational technologists who sought for one year to reach consensus on them is unprecedented. Following the Delphi Study methodology, this unique effort affords opportunities to gain clarity and unique insights into issues pertaining to education in the 21st century from a panel of educators dedicated to studying and using educational technologies.

One key feature of a Delphi study is that purposeful selection of the participants permits inclusion of people with a variety of prior experience, specialties, and present circumstances. The group of educational technology specialists selected for this particular Delphi study included four educational technology professors, a schoolteacher, and a doctoral student in educational technology. Although their identities cannot be disclosed, the following section describes the backgrounds and present circumstances of the panel of educational technologists who participated in this Delphi study. The collective expertise of the panel permitted them to address issues pertaining to skills necessary for functioning in the 21st Century; the preparation of teachers; educational systems change; and instructional uses of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills. Accordingly, this work considers topics of interest to teachers, school administrators, policy makers, educationists, and citizens concerned about public schooling.

In educational literature and commentaries, many articles about education for the 21st Century have been written and particular articles make a valuable contribution to this discourse. For example, one finds pertinent information on curricular reforms for ICT skills in work by the European Knowledge Center (2000); the International Society for Technology in Education (2000, 2008); and Williams, Wilson, Richardson, Tuson, & Coles, 1998).Also, the Partnership for 21st Century skills (2004) provides a framework for educating 21st Century learners. The unique benefits of this work accrue from the Delphi study methodology and the characteristics of the panel of educational technologists. The collective expertise of the panel permitted consideration of a wide variety of issues pertaining to education in the 21st Century. The study methodology ensured that the panel reached consensus without prejudging, favorably or unfavorably, remarks made by any particular participant. The following section documents the collective characteristics of the panel of educators who participated in this study.

Participants

The six participants in this study are educational technology specialists. One of the participants holds a Master's degree in educational technology and has 10 years of K-12 teaching experience. Another participant was a doctoral student in educational technology. The other four participants hold doctoral degrees in educational technology and have been professors in Colleges of Education for 24 years, on average. The schoolteacher was purposefully selected because of her graduate degree in educational technology and to give voice to the realities of public school teaching. …

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