21st Century Skills Conversation Starters

One of the things that I most enjoy doing as a faculty member is giving my students a chance to go out and discuss school issues with teachers and media specialists in the field. Lately one topic my students and I have been exploring is information literacy. As media specialists (and the library profession as a whole for that matter) we’ve been talking about information literacy for many years and the concepts are clearly expressed in both the Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning and the new Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Yet far too many of my students report to me that teachers have never heard the phrase “information literacy” and have no idea that there are standards that we should be addressing through media center programs. I find that pretty discouraging both personally and professionally and I’ve been thinking about how we might change that. Maybe it’s time to try a different phrase to get to the same outcome (all students and teachers are effective users of ideas and information). My suggestion is that we try to hang our hat on the phrase “21st century skills” and use some new Web 2.0 tools to try to get the message out. My real idea is to use some of the very thought provoking short videos that we can access through the web to get the conversation started.


Here are some of my favorites:


Did You Know?

This 8 minute video is probably the best known one on my play list. It clearly highlights how our world is changing and challenges the viewer to reconsider where the United States “fits” in the world.


A Vision of K-12 Students Today

This 4 minute video is poignant and points out the disconnect between the lives our students lead outside of school and the way schools are structured for learning.


Learning to Change, Changing to Learn

This 5:30 video clearly addresses 21st century skills and how educators need to accept personal leadership for providing instruction in 21st century skills.


Having Our Say

This is one of my newest video favorites. The video gives a voice to middle grades teachers who address 21st century skills in 21st century schools.


Pay Attention

This is another very popular video. It was specifically created to start a conversation about 21st century learning.


Of course there are great print resources out there too. A new document published by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (of which ALA/AASL is a member) provides a great summary of issues and resources:

21st Century Skills, Education & Competitiveness: A Resource and Policy Guide


If you want a longer book-length treatment, I’d recommend  Tony Wagner’s new book, The Global Achievement Gap


I think that New Year’s resolutions don’t really work for our school calendar lives. So make a beginning of the school year resolution to start talking about 21st century skills!


Judi Repman

Georgia Southern University


Posted on September 19, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Harvinder Shergill

    I am a trainer of communication skills and persona enhancement in New Delhi, India. The idea of information literacy evokes very good response from students and teachers alike. I have been also talking about this idea for about four-five years now. I would like to know more about this so that students in our part of the world can also benefit. Thanks

  1. Pingback: pafa.net » 21st Century Skills Conversation Starters

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