Saturday, June 7, 2008

21st Century Learning

I just posted this here on the Ohio Education Technology Network:

What resources (books, blogs, whatever) do you all recommend that are related to 21st century learning? I mean, what have you been reading that furthers our understanding of what "21st century learning" actually means, and what implications it will have for our schools?

This weekend I've been reading Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century by David Warlick. It's been helping me flesh out my thoughts on how the meaning of literacy has changed.

Lately we've all been hearing about how our traditional definition of literacy doesn't sufficiently encompass the numeric, scientific, technological, informational, and various other "new literacies" that students need today. Instead of splitting our understanding of literacy into separate segments, I think that instead we should take a broader view of how the requirements of literacy have evolved.

The definition of literacy as the ability to read and write was sufficient when those were the essential tools to access information in the world. As more and ever-changing avenues for accessing information have developed, the meaning of literacy is expanding beyond the ability to read and write to include the ability to access and learn new information.

As Warlick puts it in this book: "In the twenty-first century, literacy involves... a wide range of skills associated with acquiring, decoding, evaluating, and organizing information within a global electronic library.... If all our children learn to do is read, they will not be literate." He also describes an interesting idea that the "two-dimensional" way of reading from left to right and from top to bottom has shifted into "three-dimensional" reading has information is digitally hyperlinked and layered.

Some pieces of the book are a little dated (published in 2004), but its ideas are still relevant. I also whole-heartedly recommend checking out the related Landmark Project, and some of Warlick's presentations that are available online, especially this one.

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