There has been much emphasis placed on the need for Australia to produce more people possessing skills in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills to help Australia succeed as a 'knowledge economy but these are only foundation skills according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
"Today’s fast-changing world requires students who not only possess strong skills in areas such as language arts, maths and science but must also be adept at skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, persistence, collaboration, and curiosity," BCG says.
According to BCG, The requisite twenty-first-century skills fall into three broad categories: foundational literacies, competencies and character qualities. It describes the foundational literacies as being those that "serve as the base upon which students need to build more advanced and equally important competencies and character qualities," and lists them as literacy, numeracy, ICT literacy, scientific literacy, financial literacy, cultural and civic literacy.
Competencies represent how students approach complex challenges and these are: critical thinking/problem-solving; creativity; communication; collaboration.
Character qualities determine how students approach their changing enviroment. These qualities are: curiosity; persistence/grit; adaptability; leadership; social and cultural awareness; initiative.
The WEF/BCG report New Vision for Education: Unlocking the Potential of Technology, "examines ways that education technology can enhance the development of these qualities as one tool in a portfolio.'
BCG surveyed the education technology landscape for trends and promising approaches related to developing twenty-first-century skills. It found "large gaps in selected indicators for many of these skills – between developed and developing countries, among countries in the same income group and within countries for different skill types."
It concluded: "These gaps are clear signs that too many students are not getting the education they need to prosper in the 21st century and countries are not finding enough of the skilled workers they need to compete."
It says: "On the basis of our research results and interviews with dozens of experts in education, we identified a number of resources and tools, including personalised and adaptive content and curricula, open educational resources, and digital professional-development resources for teachers."
The report highlights three school networks in different parts of the world that have deployed technology in innovative ways to improve student outcomes by developing twenty-first-century skills.
It concludes: "Delivering on a technology-enabled closed-loop instructional system – one that will help close the 21st-century skills gap – will ultimately require effective collaborations among a complex and interconnected group of policy-makers, educators, education technology providers and funders.
"When implemented thoughtfully, these collaborations can begin to bring the most effective education technologies to more of the world’s students in an effort to address 21st-century skills gaps."
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