Twenty-First Century Learning and Teaching 1

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Twenty-First Century Learning and Teaching

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Awareness of enormous and current economic, social and technology development motivates twenty-first-century education. Towards the close of the twentieth century, intellect of education shifted to a new archetype. The amount of the human awareness engendered became voluminous, which necessitated a re-examination of the aim of teaching. The definition of the twenty-first-century learning and education can be fluid, involving extensive sets of information. To some extent, it may include the definition of a current objective of a mission. Therefore, this essay explores the meaning of 21st-century learning and teaching, factors that have promoted 21st-century learning and education and the importance of transforming education.

Meaning Learning and Teaching of the Twenty-First-Century

Twenty-first-century learning is a common term, whose definition is not very precise. According to Bolstad & Hipkins (2012, pp. 1-2), people used the term 21st learning in the 20th century to refer to a form of education that would help to impart the knowledge necessary to change the future. The earlier definition of the 21st learning described it as a tool for coping with social, administrative and financial changes anticipated in the 21st-century. However, since we are in the 21st-century, the definition of this phrase becomes tricky. It keeps on shifting as it is unclear whether it refers to current practices or the future ones.

Twenty-first-century teaching is a form of knowledge dissemination that aims at developing skills that will enable students to acclimate goals according to the available information. In the twenty-first century, the amount of information available is enormous and is increasing (Care & Griffin, 2014, p. 280). Therefore, teachers have an exceedingly appealing task with the set objective to provide adequate structure and foundation of exhaustive understanding of the learners’ interest and needs. The teachers have to use differentiated instructions to deliver the required content (Salika & Lawrence, 2014, p. 12). In this form of teaching, students have to set their objectives and take responsibility towards achieving and executing the skills learned.

From my point of view, twenty-first-century learning is a form of learning, which requires the students must have a real mastery of the content, produce, create, and appraise information from many subjects and sources. Consequently, they develop a wider understanding and respect of different cultures. Students also demonstrate creativity, communication, and partnership. This type of learning is powerful and requires well-organized teachers having broad knowledge and organized in teams. The twenty-first-century learning, therefore, serves to prepare students to develop a potential relationship with the world outside the classroom.

Key Factors Transforming Education in the 21st Century Learning

The main factors that continue to play a vital role in transforming education include globalisation, social transformation, and triple global revolution. Globalisation enables learners to acquire new skills, techniques of organising, and accepting and understanding the world. Also, social change helps to achieve sound education policies, while triple global revolution contributes to making an improved way of living.


As defined by Dreher et. al. (2008, p. 15), globalisation is the interdependence and interconnection of the modern world through an increasing flow of goods and chattels, amenities, info and people. Progression in technology has played a significant part in promoting globalisation. The cost of transnational transactions has also resulted in a wide spread of ideas, raised the portion of trade in global manufacturer and augmented the transfer of funds (Zajda & Rust, 2010, p. 78). All these factors have continued to promote globalisation. The most important aspect of globalisation is the socialization that strengthens social associations between countries in a way that the local activities in a particular country depend on the events happening in a different country.

In the twenty-first century, Globalisation continues to impact education positively and negatively. Arnove et. al. (2012, p. 2) described globalization in the realm of teaching as learning itineraries that are closely related to the economy. The robust economies tend to increase inequality among people from different social classes regarding social justice and equal access to education. However, with increased globalization, different countries such as China have gained economic power, which further necessitates changes in the school practices and policies. Currently, interactive whiteboards in classrooms and access of teaching material from the internet are standard practices. Policies like reduction of public expenditure on education are among the structural adjustment policies inspired by globalisation with an aim to make countries more attractive to investors.

The mode of delivery and improvement of education in Australia has notably changed about technological changes. Keppell (2014, p. 323) noted that distance learning in Australia has developed over the twentieth century to incorporate online methods of knowledge dissemination. The initiative further led to the modification of the Open Learning Australia to Open University Australia (OUA), with the aim of expanding the successful learning institutions. Therefore, this means that education sector will continue to change and adapt to the challenges of the twenty-first century.

From a global perspective, the school system must also become accustomed to meet the twenty-first-century challenges. Schools must equip the students with current information, expertise, and standards suitable to meet needs of the competitive global market. The current education system must also model students to become all-inclusive citizens to the whole world. Therefore, globalization has challenged people to reconsideration the objectives of the education.

Social Transformation

Social transformation is the revolution of culture and social organization over a period. In the current world, society is fluid. The social, political, economic, and the cultural changes, occur continually. Closely associated with social transformation are discovery, invention, and diffusion of knowledge. Apart from the educational factors, political and economic factors influence the social change. On the other hand, social transformation also controls education, policy, and economic factors. Twenty-first-century learning requires an extensive understanding of the world that is in the form of a global village (Bolstad & Hipkins, 2012, p. 7). Therefore, teachers should comprehend the social developments that shape practices and enhance the value of schooling. A good understanding of the teacher’s role results in better outcomes (Madelein et al., 2012, pp. 5-6). Different perception about the teaching and learning may further lead to varying levels of strengths, abilities, interests and cultural practices among the learners. It clearly shows that social relations form the basis of sound educational practices. Therefore, teachers have the social responsibility during the execution of their duties.

In Australia, factors such as national and global policies affect the nature of teaching. Even when some teachers have the required abilities to meet the demands of the twenty-first century, the national and worldwide policies limit their efforts, which results in the form of education that is limited regarding significances. Moyle (2013, p. 35) notes that educational system in Australia requires the schools to give learners the best opportunities to achieve high-quality results. These requirements have led some schools in Australia to create education revolution by grouping students in groups that enable them to accommodate their needs, which allow students to benefit maximally from the teacher’s expertise. Schools in Australia are also liaising with the parents in a bid to improve the academic performance and attendance. This strategy aims at achieving quality pedagogy concerning working with a shared cultural knowledge and active citizenship. The approach will also help to expand the educational performance while respecting social equity and justice. However, the number of learning institutions using this method are few. The government should, therefore, support changes in learning to achieve a pedagogy that esteems real world networks and practical communication system.

The Global Tripple Revolution

The primary objective of the twenty-first-century learning is to disseminate knowledge and impart skills that will meet the demands of the future jobs and other social roles. School Improvement & Governance Network (2016), stated that ‘grobal triple revolution’ (GTR) helps to depict the nature of a student’s life, their learning prospects and the way education institutions develop the knowledge experience of all the students. It is a valid instrument to achieve the global transformation of the 21st century. GTR mainly comprises of three primary challenges and changes, which includes:

  1. A change in the education and all learning institutions.

  2. Insurrection in the economic, energy and environment.

  3. Health, development and human rights revolution.

To change the education and learning institutions requires many people to enroll in secondary schools, heartily and institutions of higher learning. Instruction, learning, and information also require massive modifications. Finally, the step requires a distortion of the old sectoral gaps in teaching and training (School Improvement & Governance Network, 2016). Revolution of the economies, energy, and environment will play a vital role in the transforming the global way of living. This transformation will allow people to experience a revolution in health, development, and human rights. Therefore, GTR requires a massive change in the current forms of education.

The Changing Curriculum and Pedagogy

In the twenty-first century, efforts for education reforms are shifting towards an approach based on standards, motivated by accountability and integrated scientifically. The primary objective of such an approach is to improve the structural quality and the student’s book learning. It leads to increased interest in exploring the relationship between the curricula delivered to the learners. However, complexity in defining curriculum makes the exploration quite tasking. Kridel (2010, p. 179) gives an insight of how the curriculum has undergone through changes up to the twenty-first century when efforts to alter and blemish its traditional definition continues to intensify. However, any valid definition must contain content, purpose, and organization (Lattuca & Stark, 2011). Other common definitions of the curriculum include emergent curriculum, holistic curriculum, hidden curriculum and crowded curriculum (Lattuca & Stark, 2011).

People continue to comprehend curriculum differently. However, various external factors like social, political, economic and cultural factors significantly influence curriculum. Internal factors that affect curriculum includes students, teachers, and the learning resources within institutions (Keating, 2014, p. 109). Learning philosophies such as intellectual, educational ideology, social effectiveness, and student-centered philosophy generates variances in the program of study at all levels of learning. Today, there is an all-encompassing recognition for the need to develop a curriculum that reduces current knowledge gaps and helps to achieve uniform results across Australia (School Improvement & Governance Network, 2016). Therefore, the 21st-century curricula should be productive regarding content, should be comprehensive, support equality in learning adapted to the future and recommended an assortment of global novelties.

Pedagogy must change just as the curriculum is changing to achieve the 21st-century learning. Education refers to the combination of skills needed for effective teaching (Westbrook, et al., 2013, p. 4). Therefore, even with best policies and objectives of the twenty-first-century education, it is impossible to achieve nothing without the correct pedagogies put in place. As stated earlier, the primary purpose of 21st-century learning and teaching is to impart knowledge to students that will enable them to create and apply it in the real life situation. As noted by Fullan & Langworthy (2014, p. 11), new pedagogies are necessary to achieve the 21st-century learning and teaching. These authors described the new pedagogies to have three primary mechanisms namely new learning corporation, deep learning tasks and digital tools and means (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014, p. 10). The new pedagogies allows teachers and students to develop a new learning partnership that permits them to reorganize the whole process to create focused knowledge. With the help of digital tools and resources, they accelerate the process of generating focused knowledge, which is an undertaking of profound learning. On the contrary, old pedagogies only promotes the mastery of the essential content, which is not in line with the 21st-century learning.

The need to achieve a personalized learning and student-centered learning are the primary factors that necessitate the changing of the old pedagogies. This element allows the teachers to build learning around the learner and a better application of available resources in a flexible manner that make the educational experience to make sense.

Importance of Education Revolution

The focus of traditional education models has been on the learning of well-known content for subject areas such as languages, sciences or arts. It also entails the assessing of the learned content with structured questions at the end of the learning module, chapter or unit. The twenty-first learning must involve learning of the same subjects learned in the traditional schools. However, it incorporates the 21st-century themes such as global awareness, financial knowledge, health knowledge and environmental literacy (NCREL & Metri Group, 2010, p. 2). Education must undergo a transformation to incorporate these themes. The traditional school cannot meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, which further necessitates change. The new form of education, which is the twenty-first-century learning and teaching, must entail aspects like effective communication and association, critical thinking, and deciphering of challenges and creativeness and novelty. Critical thinking and deciphering of problems is an imperative element, which refers to one’s ability to:

  1. Have an adequate reasoning capacity

  2. Solve problems and have pointed investigations

  3. Investigate and appraise unconventional perspectives

  4. Practice critical reflection on conclusions taken and procedures

According to NCREL & Metri Group (2010, p. 7), critical thinking is the capacity to investigate, infer, appraise, recapitulate, and produce information. However, in the twenty-first century, advanced technology makes this process easier.

In conclusion, factors like globalisation, social transformation, and GTR continues to impact education positively. Schooling continues to expand the scope of teaching and learning from listening, observing and memorizing. The new range includes aspects include interrogative learning experience, engaging with the learning environment, evidencing the academic content, and generation of new knowledge. Other issues include cooperative learning experience, sharing of knowledge and being accountable for gained knowledge. However, education has not fully achieved the objectives of the 21st-century and learning.


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