The University of Melbourne (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 7707-7715
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Common themes of inventories of general capabilities to support success in the 21st century include being capable of critical thinking & problem solving, being able to continue to learn new things, being able to work in a team, and being a capable communicator. Each of these is a multifaceted capability that cannot be learned through only direct instruction, but rather they are capabilities that are learned through scaffolded and progressively more challenging learning opportunities, through coaching and mentoring, and through practice and self-reflection. Solving complex problems requires both teamwork and harnessing the capabilities that digital technologies make available to us, and teachers need to be comfortable as activators of learning in a complex and sometimes challenging environment.

‘Traditional’ or ‘20th century’ approaches to teaching, which include the model of a student as a container to fill with knowledge and classrooms with passive students in neat rows, are less likely to succeed in developing and nurturing these capabilities. The approaches that teachers and school systems take, and the spaces they teach in, need to be designed in ways that will support them in meeting the 21st century goals. Old approaches to teaching and learning will not deliver new learning outcomes.

This paper will explore educational approaches that can assist teachers in developing 21st century competencies in their students and proposes 21st Century Problem Based Learning (‘C21 PBL’) as an approach with the potential to achieve 21st century competencies. In C21 PBL the problem based learning method (an approach where students work in teams to develop solutions to complex problems) is augmented by digital technologies as cognitive partners (Jonassen, 2000) and the actions of teachers are structured by the cognitive apprenticeship model (Collins, Brown & Newman, 1989), so that students are coached and guided in the development of the desired outcomes. These approaches work well together and can prepare students for the challenges of 21st century. For teachers to teach using this approach, or indeed any approach other than traditional means, the ways that teacher education itself is undertaken also needs to change to reflect the new methodologies proposed for schools.
Teacher education, 21st century capabilities, problem based learning.