IN a world of change, do you have the skills and tools to keep up? When more than 17,500 future-minded educators converged in Denver last June for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) annual conference, ISTE 2010, they heard from opening keynoter Jean-Francois Rischard, a former vice president of the World Bank and author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, a best-seller about nongeopolitical alternatives for solving the world's largest problems.
"We indeed need two things on this beleaguered planet," says Rischard. "One, a new methodology for global problem solving--that is, one that will help us navigate the very challenging decades ahead--and two, a new mindset in the next generation, one rooted in a strong sense of being foremost a global citizen."
Rischard notes that, with the global credit crisis not yet over, society still has more than 20 burning global problems on our hands that must get resolved within the next 20 years "if we are to avoid the massive and adverse planetary consequences many of them bring in their tow."
VOICES FROM ISTE
To that end, ISTE 2010 attendee Ted Fujimoto, an education strategist involved in the charter school movement and an integral player in launching the successful New Tech Network for high schools, says that "the ability to thrive as an individual and to create environments for others to thrive in" is a key 21st-century skill. "That means thriving in all dimensions: health, happiness, and personal fulfillment--in addition to economic sufficiency."
In the trenches is Matthew Braun, a 7th-grade math teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. It's not just about the students, he says. "A teacher with 21st-century skills and tools is one who integrates strong communication skills with manageable technology skills," he said at ISTE 2010. It's "someone who can creatively problem solve both people- and equipment-related obstacles to learning." Such a person "fearlessly seeks out methods and tech tools that will enhance student learning as well [as his or her] own personal growth," he says.
Lucy Miller-Ganfield, president of Students Working to Advance Technology, Inc., a Raleigh, N.C.-based student community service organization, believes 21stcentury learning must involve a remix of multiple literacies that fuse with tech tools and critical thinking skills to stimulate authentic, relevant learning opportunities for all learners anywhere, anytime. "The tools must allow individuals to be collaborators and creators of authentic solutions to global problems as they emerge over time," she said.
Indeed, "global" is an integral concept to 21st-century learning. With our current level of technology, the world has become much smaller. For example, throw a question out to your colleagues on LinkedIn, the professional networking site, and you may get an instantaneous response back--from someone in the U.K. "To ready the citizens of tomorrow," says Trupti Gandhi, an information and communication technologist at Dame Alice Owen's School in Enfield, U.K., "we need to align the curriculum to Generation 2.0. The technology and tools they use during their school life become almost obsolete by the time they're in the job market. We need to make them lifelong learners."
The fact is, living in a global, interconnected world often translates into Generation 2.0 and other individuals making more of a difference than ever--often before graduation. For example, TakingITGlobal, the largest online community of youth interested in global issues and creating positive change, makes it easy for students to work together in resolving major issues through formation of groups, petitions, and other constructive actions and projects. The community's founder, Jennifer Corriero, was on hand at the ISTE conference in Denver, moderating an innovation and excellence panel and ensuring that "21st-century skills" weren't just buzzwords, but that participants such as Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U. …