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21st century skills

How (not) to develop ICT literacy in students?

Michael Trucano's picture
to teach, or not to teach, basic ICT literacy?
to teach, or not to teach, basic ICT literacy?

In most cases, in most places -- at least in most so-called 'developing countries' -- the use of computers and other ICTs in schools is in practice focused largely on the development of what is commonly referred to or understood as 'ICT or computer literacy'. In fact, in many low and even middle income countries, professed needs to develop 'market-relevant' things like keyboarding skills, a basic understanding of how to navigate computer GUIs and operating systems and a general facility with standard office applications inform some of the primary justifications for the roll-out of computers in schools.

In some such places (case #1), once you have become 'proficient' in using (e.g.) a word processor, the promotion of the development of 'ICT-related skills' stops. (You are now 'computer literate': Time to move along!)

In other places (case #2), there is no shortage of lofty rhetoric around the need to develop '21st century skills' through the use (in part) of ICTs, but if you look at how the equipment is actually being utilized, the reality of ICT use in case #2 is not terribly different in practice than what one sees in the first case.

That said, some people think that way basic ICT literacy is being promoted within many 'digital divide' initiatives in the education sector may over time actually impede progress toward the development of higher order ICT-related skills. This points to a phenomenon associated with the so-called 'Second Digital Divide' (related EduTech blog post), which (in the words of the OECD) "separates those with the competencies and skills to benefit from computer use from those without". For such people, a focus on developing only basic ICT literacy,

In Search of the Curious Doer

Robert Hawkins's picture

William's windmill | for image attribution please see bottom of this postWhat is the profile of the type of student who we hope will emerge from our schools?  Many have argued that our schools are stuck in a 19th century mindset and education for the knowledge age requires a complete rethink of teaching and learning for a globalized, connected, and rapidly changing world.  Educators around the world have been debating and working to define these skills and what has emerged is a set of “21st century skills” – the types of skills deemed essential to work creatively; problem solve; communicate; identify and analyze existing information; and create new knowledge.