ICT in education is a hot topic when it comes to developing 21st Century skills. As manual work becomes increasingly automated, many jobs, from driver to barista, are looking like they will become rare “for the experience” affairs.
Fortunately, all this automation means more software and more machines. Which means that jobs are continually opening in technological fields. In short, the future is digital, so any education needs to incorporate a strong digital element.
Learners and Technology go together like apples and cinnamon. Younger generations take to new technologies at a lightning pace, having grown up immersed in them, and are eager to apply these new technologies to their jobs and lives. Modern students are embracing new ways of learning, and trust that these skills are also useful as they begin their careers.
So, what are the most essential 21st Century skills for students today?
The skills most employers are looking for include a varied blend of what would now be considered “essential” skills, with a few surprises. Naturally, literacy and numeracy, both on a personal and a computer level, are vital for anyone seeking work today. These present no problem to today’s learners, but don’t underestimate their importance, even when it is not obvious.
Collaboration is just a new twist on the old concept of teamwork. Communication is also vital to this process. These skills are not as obvious, but generally learners meet the requirements. Every generation it becomes more important to be able to work as part of a group or team.
Self-regulation is another important skill, and a newer one. Believe it or not, most employers don’t want to continually chase after and command employees. Not in person, and not by hiring supervisors to keep employees in check. They would much prefer someone who can sit down and get the job done under their own steam.
Many learners who traditionally study in lectures and classrooms, struggle with this, as they are used to being driven by tutors, lecturers, and teaching assistants. It can be challenging to move from constant support and the motivation of the carrot and stick, to motivating oneself.
Last but by no means least, the biggest change is the importance of developing knowledge, and solving real world problems. Whereas many jobs in bygone eras relied on following orders, modern jobs are much more varied, and require employees to focus increasingly on solving their own problems.
And how do we develop these skills?
We practise them in our studies, of course. Quite simply, students who study independently, whether they are formally attending an educational institution or not, are developing highly employable skillsets. They improve their literacy and knowledge, sure. But they also improve their ability to motivate themselves and to independently solve problems.
Learning Management Systems in education are gaining traction for this very reason. Cloud-hosted LMSs, especially, are an invaluable tool to students. Cloud-hosted LMSs empower students to solve their own problems, work wherever they are, and work harder than ever before. And these students will port these essential skills directly and successfully into the workforce.