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Teaching 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools
by Jean-Pierre Joubert and Denys Koval

In discussing how digital learning impacted teaching 21st Century skills in 20th Century schools, we first need to define 20th Century Schools. While the original source website seems to be business-focused, 21st Century Schools’ breakdown  (21st Century Schools, n.d.) does seem to be sound in describing the typical 20th Century classroom. In particular, a 20th Century school is restricted to the four walls of the classroom, is concerned with passive learning through memorization of discrete facts, facilitated by a teacher who is both judge and the provider of information (21st Century Schools, n.d.). In addition, work was often done in isolation.

Additionally, Budhai and Taddei minimally define 21st Century Skills as being “the 4Cs—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.” (2015, para. 1) While other definitions exist, such as Stauffer’s far more comprehensive list (2020), for the sake of brevity we have held to Budhai and Taddei’s definition.

To this end, we have found that digital learning impacted the teaching of 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools in the following ways:

Critical Thinking






21st Century Schools. (n.d.). 20th Century Classroom vs. the 21st Century Classroom. http://www.cais.ca/uploaded/Professional_Development/21st_Century_Schools.pdf

Bates, A. W. (2015). 6.2 A short history of educational technology, Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/chapter/section-8-1-a-short-history-of-educational-technology/

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Budhai, S., & Taddei, L. (2015). Building 21st Century Skills through Technology. Teaching the 4Cs with Technology. ASCD Arias. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/sf116038/chapters/Building-21st-Century-Skills-Through-Technology.aspx

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Shubina, I., & Kulakli, A. (2019). Pervasive Learning and Technology Usage for Creativity Development in Education. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (IJET), 14(01), 95. doi: 10.3991/ijet.v14i01.9067

Stauffer, B. (2020, March 19). What are 21st Century Skills?. Applied educational systems. https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/what-are-21st-century-skills

The Foundation for Critical Thinking. (2019). Our concept and definition of critical thinking. https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/our-conception-of-critical-thinking/411


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