A colleague of mine, Porter Palmer, and I recently created a new presentation called 22nd Century Skills: Bringing Future Tech into Today’s Classrooms. I did it three times in the span of a week in two different states. From an ego standpoint, I’m thrilled. At FETC the room was packed and the feedback was fantastic. When I did it at CPS TechTalk, it was really the wrong session for the conference and didn’t generate much of an audience, but the people who were in the room raved about it. And then at the NICE MiniConference, based on the comments I got after it seemed to resonate rather well.
As a presenter, I’m a happy guy. New keynote that I’ve worked my butt off on, successfully shares some new ideas, inspires people a bit, revs them up for a day of learning… mission accomplished, right?
Mostly. I’m still struggling with one thing. What the heck are 22nd Century Skills? Personally, I think that 21st Century Skills are kind of a joke. It’s a broad term that represents a shift that we’re struggling to qualify. Sort of like Web 2.0. And if we have that much trouble defining those skills, how the heck are we going to define what kids will need in the 22nd century?
We can’t. Which is why one of the points we close with in the presentation is that 22nd Century Skills are just as arbitrary as 21st Century Skills and what we need to focus in on are Every Century Skills. Has the skill set kids need to learn to be truly successful really changed all that much in the last 50 years? I don’t actually think so. Yes, there are more positions open for community managers and knowledge workers. There are also more positions open at WalMart and McDonalds. Moot point.
I think what’s really changed is the level of visibility. People are seeing exceptional teaching shared more frequently through blogs and videos and presentations. The great stories are being broadcast and an incredible rate. And that creates a skewed vision that any classroom that isn’t working in a BYOD environment and participating in a dozen global collaborative projects is failing their students…
I don’t believe that’s true. I honestly believe that most classrooms are doing a pretty darn good job. I honestly believe that most teachers genuinely want to do the best job they can, but they may not know what the options really are. IT departments are often run by IT people. Instructional technologists are spread so thin that they often focus their energies on the most eager teachers, the ones who ‘see the light’. With that in mind, I believe that the single most important thing every member of the EdTech community can do… is recruit. To take colleagues by the hand and not just show them the magic, but how to get started learning a few basic tricks so they can create their own magic show.
In your building, on your floor, in your own hallway… what percentage of teachers don’t want to be embracing new technologies? And what can you do to help them take the leap?