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21st-century learning

Students from a NAF Academy of Engineering in San Francisco gain internship experience on construction sites of major transit projects.

A new assessment system for high school students providing multiple measures of college and career readiness launched this fall, helping students in career-themed public high schools understand what skills they need to enter the 21st-century workforce. The National Academy Foundation (NAF), the largest developer of career-themed public high schools in the country, partnered with education research agency WestEd to create the multi-method test, marking a move toward more effectively measuring college and career readiness.

Collaborative virtual workspaces are one of the most effective new ways to assist in providing a high quality 21st century education. ePals’ latest platform, LEARN365, fosters social learning by providing a virtual space that is not bound by space or time for students and teachers to come together and exchange information. This web seminar, originally broadcast on November 14, 2012, addressed the importance of social and collaborative learning technology and Web 2.0 tools in providing a holistic, connected, social education for today’s students.

The Speak Up National Research Project’s Fall 2011 findings revealed that students want technology effectively utilized in their schools. They, as well as parents, teachers, and administrators, are seeking a high level of personalization that will engage and motivate them. The future of personalized learning is dependent on the new technologies and digital content that transform learning.

To implement blended learning effectively, administrators must gain a thorough understanding of the best tools, training, and processes necessary for teacher and student success. Thesys International offers custom curriculum designed to improve learning outcomes through blended learning. This web seminar, originally broadcast on October 25, 2012, featured Fairmont Preparatory Academy and the Pasadena (Calif.) Unified School District, which are in varying stages of implementing blended learning, with help from Thesys International.

Great Falls Elementary School Principal Wendell Sumter, left, and Chester County Schools Superintendent Agnes Slayman peer over students’ shoulders, excited about a project.

Schools aren’t often called one of the best in the world, but it happened in the rural district of Chester County (S.C.) School District. In October 2012, computing behemoth Microsoft named Chester County’s Great Falls Elementary School a 2012 “Innovative Pathfinder and Mentor School.” The distinction comes from the Microsoft Partners in Learning Program, a 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment to transform K12 education around the world by connecting teachers and school leaders in a community of professional development.

Currently, the way most schools think about reading restricts students to the time and space of borrowing one or two books from a school library or classroom collection at a time. However, to improve reading skills, it is helpful to break down those physical barriers. With its extensive digital library, myON Reader from Capstone Digital provides children and community members with a wealth of books that can be accessed anywhere.

Blended learning, a combination of online and in-person instruction, is gaining traction around the country. For many administrators, however, there remain many questions about what blended learning actually means and how best to implement this model. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on October 24, 2012, John Bailey, executive director of Digital Learning Now!, outlined the trends and key elements of effective blended learning.

Martha Liddell, superintendent of Columbus (Miss.) Municipal School District

Neuroscientist William Jenkins suggests that educators shift the school environment to improve memory and ability to learn.

1. Create a non-stressful environment. And this includes eliminating or reducing bullying. If pupils are angry or frustrated, their “frontal lobe is turned off and executive function skills are not operating,” Jenkins says. When students are comfortable and relaxed, they are more open to learn and retain memory.

For generations, teachers in the early elementary years have urged their young pupils to use their brains. They’re still offering the same encouragement, but nowadays they can know even more about what they’re talking about.

Recent advances in neuroscience—from detailed scans of the brain to ongoing research on teaching methods that increase cognitive development—have ushered in a new era of “brain-based” education.

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