How 21st Century Projects Can Enhance Education

Collaboration tools may help students master core curriculum skills.

I’m always interested in finding new ways to learn quickly and efficiently. It’s important to get the most educational value out of my time as possible. I think that applies to our students as well.

I'm always interested in finding new ways to learn quickly and efficiently. It's important to get the most educational value out of my time as possible. I think that applies to our students as well.

One method is to use 21st-century tools and projects that are models for driving change in education. We can transform our educational institutions into model learning environments that cater to the broadest range of users through collaboration tools. Through creating, communicating and collaborating, students can learn 21st-century skills while they master core curriculum skills and prepare to meet the demands of the global community.

Create

There are many opportunities for educators to bring right-brain activities into the classroom. One of the best and most innovative approaches is problem-based learning. In this approach, the role of the student and teacher change. Students assume increasing responsibility for their learning, which provides them with more motivation and a greater sense of accomplishment, laying the foundation for them to become successful lifelong learners. The teacher becomes the resource, tutor and evaluator, guiding the students in their problem-solving efforts.

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There are hundreds of projects that students can create and participate in: podcasts, vodcasts, photo stories, slide shows, blogs, wikis and social networks, to name a few. For starters, check out the iEARN website (www.media.iearn.org). iEARN projects are designed by educators and students worldwide and will provide you with a range of creative and collaborative projects.

Communicate

Teaching communication skills often challenges educators. Because today's students use social media to communicate, we need to incorporate new methods of communication in our teaching. The International Society for Technology in Education has included communication skills as part of the National Education Technology Standards for students. The standards support the use of digital media and online environments to communicate and work collaboratively, locally, and from a distance; to support individual learning; and contribute to the learning of others. The standards promote communication and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

Collaborate

Collaboration is an essential part of learning, and students should learn to work with others on a task. To foster lifelong learning skills, they need to communicate with others and learn how to work as part of a team. While most teamwork occurs face to face, it is becoming increasingly common to work with others through electronic media such as e-mail, video conferencing and file sharing.

With resources tighter than ever, we need to utilize free digital resources and online applications that are available to our schools.

21st-Century Projects

The following projects allow students to learn 21st-century skills:

  • “This I Believe” (www.thisibelieve.org) is an international project engaging people in writing, sharing and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives.
  • “Tell a Story in 5 Frames” (www.flickr.com/groups/visual story/) asks a student to tell a story in five frames, or photos, with only a title to guide the viewer's interpretation. Students can view sample stories on flickr.com and then use the application “MemoriesOnWeb” (www.codejam.com/slideshow/mow.htm) to create their own stories and upload them to YouTube.
  • “My Self, My Community, My World” (www.kidsinneed.net/projects/SO/k12SOmyselfmycommunitymyworld.pdf) is a project in which students from around the world tell about their lives, families and communities to create a children's contributory website. It is dedicated to the development of global education by the promotion of intercultural understanding, language learning, internationalism and collaboration.
Aug 28 2009

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