The Critical 21st (and a half) Skills Agenda

I have just been reviewing the findings from the Innovative Teaching and Learning survey published in 2011 and used as a basis for the 21CLD workshops  and rubrics widely used globally.

Get the ITL Research materials here

Get the 21CLD rubrics here

Get the 21CLD Learning Observation Guide here

Coming soon- a research based tool to measure perception around Innovative Teaching and Learning at a whole school level. Look to for updates


The agreed definition for Innovative Teaching and Learning used in the research was as follows( this forms the basis for the 21st Century Learning Design materials too:)

  • collaboration 
  • knowledge construction 
  • self-regulation  
  • real-world problem-solving and innovation 
  • the use of ICT for learning 
  • skilled communication

I compared these 21st Century Skills with the essential Cross Functional Skills (for the workforce)  identified by the World Economic Forum and published 18th January 2016.

  • coordinating with others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • People management
  • Complex problem solving
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • judgement and decision making
  • cognitive flexibility

Looks to me that the 21CLD materials built on the ITL Research have much to offer still as we prepare young people for life in and beyond school.

21st century learning design is a global professional development program for teachers and schools to develop more innovative pedagogies that develop students skills for the 21st Century. The program is sponsored globally by Microsoft and is supported in each country by a network of education partners.

21st century learning design is based on the way ITL Research studies and measures innovative teaching practices. 21st century learning design asks teachers and school leaders to

  • Analyze and ‘code’ learning activities to see how deeply they integrate 21st century skills
  • Collaborate in designing new learning activities that provide deeper 21st century skills development
  • Examine the impact of these learning activities on students’ work
  • Use ICT as part of the process

21st century learning design works like this:

  • Teachers review the 21st century learning design rubrics that define each 21st century skill (e.g. ‘problem solving’);
  • Then they analyze and code an existing learning activity (lesson) according to one rubric (for example, does a science project on cell structure score a 2 or a 4 on the “problem solving” rubric?);
  • They review student work done as a response to the lesson and code it;
  • Then they refine the lesson to have a higher score on the problem solving rubric – providing students with more in-depth opportunities to develop this skill.
  • They follow this same process across many different rubrics, lessons and student work products.




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