3. What are the main factors we need to take into account to ensure that the curriculum is relevant to the needs of students in the 21st century?
There is a major challenge for policymakers, educators and the general public to respond to the paradigm shift of education for students in the 21st century (Kellner, 2009). The community of the students is expecting better quality education due to the fact that, technology has been incorporated into the field of education. Today, even the tutors are required to provide education through technological resources and devices. Hence, it becomes difficult for them to provide education through such means (Kellner, 2009).
However, President Barrack Obama made a commitment to ensure that by the year 2020, the United Nations will lead the world in the provision of highest graduate populations (Grant, Jodi, 2010). However, based on the 2011 education glance report, there is a high number of college detainment for the youth and less graduates in the United States (Wesch, 2012). There is a need to provide education in such a way that, students can apply it in their working field of future (Belasco, 2009). It is never going to be easy, but today, students are expecting applied education rather than theoretical education. This report thereby, seeks to identify factors that should be incorporated in the curriculum to help the digital age achieve a meaningful education and boost the country’s graduate population (Kellner, 2009).
The 21st century is a new millennium that is characterized with enormous technological revolution (Belasco, 2009). It is an era governed with increased diverse, global and complex human beings because technological revolutions greatly impact the society while it transforms the oral culture.
Today, the requirements of course curriculum has changed a lot. Students need to be trained a lot on different perspectives and not only on the course subjects. One will be required to focus upon different initiatives to improve the course structure and provide the best quality education to the students (Moore, 2004).
It is necessary for the school authorities to provide the subjects that will improve the creativity skills amongst the students. The school authorities along with the other concerned authorities should include a course on sports as well so that it will keep the students healthy and fit. In addition, there should be evening sessions on extra-curricular subjects that will improve various skills of these students.
The era presents a number of challenging factors to students that affect their learning process; this includes issues like global warming, farming, poverty, population explosion and environmental implications among others.
The issues pose a great difficulty for students in their learning environment as students are unable to function, communicate and change their socio-economical level in order to adapt to these issues (Wesch, 2012). Moreover, these issues require students to participate in the real life and come up with ways that they can solve these problems that affect the present society. The students are required to come up with learning projects that create a change in the functioning of the society systems.
The matter is aggravated by the fact that emerging technologies and globalization provides unlimited possibilities that result to exciting discoveries and developments for medical services, energy, and other industrial centers. So essentially, the 21st generation student should possess’ skills that will aid in restoring the environment and enhance better communication strategies. The skills should aid in helping students explore the seas and space to uncover unlimited possibilities that makes society a better place.
It is apparent that the most significant skills that the 21st generation students should acquire are as follows: problem solving and critical thinking, initiative and entrepreneurialism. Others include: effective written and oral communication, imagination and curiosity, and adaptability among others (Kellner, 2009). The skills will only be acquired if the education process and the curriculum are designed to help the student to develop wholly and be ready for the work environment. Thus, it is essential that the 21st generations are equipped with survival skills that should be learned in an interdisciplinary approach to a well-designed curriculum.
The 21st century students are commonly referred to as the digital natives (Wesch, 2012). Digital natives refer to the individuals that are belonging to the digital world, and hence, they are more accustomed with the technological world (Wesch, 2012). Hence, the main goal of the faculties or the tutors is to help these digital natives or students become technologically brilliant and be true global citizens. The present students are digital learners who literary take the world through the lens of computing devices such as cellular phones and handled gaming devices.
Young ones between the ages of 8-18 can use a mainline electronic media for more than six hours in a day while multitasking maybe listening to music while surfing the Internet (Wesch, 2012). Although, students utilize these technological tools on a daily basis, many of them use it for entertainment purposes and are not truly media literate (Grant, 2010). Therefore, it is essential that the curricula are developed in such a manner that will enable students become media literate. It will enable students function online in a collaborative manner as they will be able to research, synthesize, critique, evaluate and create new knowledge.
21st century curriculum
The 21st century curriculum should have certain attributes that are project based and research driven attributes that should be connected to the national and global environment. It is because the student will implement projects that will require them to collaborate with other people in the world. Therefore, the curriculum should incorporate thinking skills, multiple intelligence, multimedia and technology to enrich the multiple illiteracies of the 21st century and aid in their authentic assessments (Belasco, 2009).
Nevertheless, the curriculum should enable a classroom expansion so that it will include the great community and direct students to work interdependently. Thus, the instructions guidelines should be designed in a manner that it challenges the student and provide means in which they can achieve differentiation in education. It should not be a text book driven curriculum or fragmented, it should be integrated in a thematic manner to fit student’s education project.
The skills taught in this curriculum should aim to help students learn through research so as to be able to apply their projects to real world problems. The curriculum should also do away with the knowledge that places more importance on the memorization of figures and facts (Scott, 2009). The knowledge should be constructed through research application and should be connected to the previous background knowledge so as to enrich a student interest, passion, and experience.
In such a manner, the content and skills a student gains in class becomes relevant and makes it possible for a student to use this information to solve societal problems. Lastly, the curriculum should allow student class assessment to move from memorizing facts and regurgitation to a more authentic form that demonstrates an understanding of the subject matter by applying it to real life contexts. It also helps create a real-world experience for the students which are an important tool for self-assessment.
The following factors should be incorporated into the school curriculum to ensure that the students of the 21st century educational needs are satisfied (Kellner, 2009).
Integrating new social communities into the curriculum
New social communities should be integrated into classrooms to enrich students learning experience. The social communities include tools such as Twitter, Teacher Tube, Google earth, Digg and YouTube among others. Nevertheless, Web 2.0 applications and media production should also be incorporated into education to create a global environment for students. These tools are important as they provide an authentic online community for students that enhance their media literacy skills. In fact, the Web 2.0 tool goes beyond the common use of entertainment to the application of knowledge to real-life experience (Wayne, 2011).
Developing a global classroom
Many students from all over the world collaborate with other people to work on important projects. In fact, there is a website known as ePals where students and teachers hold meaningful discussions on how they can start a project and make it successful. According to ePals Inc., the company seeks to be the largest online community of K-12 learners. It has enabled more than 300,000 educators and students to connect safely, learn together and exchange ideas (Wesch, 2012). Thus, it is vital that the classroom experience should result in the creation of a globalized society that will create different multiple illiteracies.
Promoting media literacy skills
When media literacy skills are promoted to students, they will hone students to address the real world issues such as environmental degradation and poverty. The 21st curriculum should enable the use of technology and multimedia tools to help students produce websites, radio shows, public service announcements and mini-documentaries that can aid in their learning process (Moore, 2004).
Such a strategy helps students find a voice by creating multi-media projects and deliver the outcomes and products to the real world audience. In this manner, the students will realize that they put enormous effort to change the world by making a difference in someone’s life.
They learn to contribute to the country’s economy and technology advancement (Belasco, 2009). From this initiative, it is apparent that students will score highly in the standardized tests because they have acquired meaningful content and skills in a practical manner. They understand the content on a higher level and have developed its basic skills through constant application in the classroom.
Promoting green education
The planet earth is facing many numerous issues that relate to environmental deterioration and degradation. Therefore, education is paramount in helping to create environmental awareness so as to produce scientists, environmental experts, politicians and media producers and other professionals that will find the key answers to addressing the environmental problems. Therefore, it is essential that the 21st curriculum should motivate student to achieve a higher level of learning experience in science, Math, and cultural studies contents (Kellner, 2009).
So when students have high content in these areas, they will develop projects that will focus on reducing environmental damages. Student will be able to design green buildings that produce low pollutants. They will promote the use of renewable fuels to minimize the effect of carbon (IV) oxide in the atmosphere that results to climate change and resultant global warming.
Further, to make students more competitive the school authorities should conduct the examinations in different ways. They can take normal form of examinations, and in addition to that, can further assess the students through group discussions and face-to-face interviews (Wesch, 2012). Students should be allowed to make presentations on any particular subject learning, which in turn will help not only in improving the subject learning but will also help in improving their presentation skills (Wayne, 2011).
The confidence levels of presentation will surely improve through such assessments. It will provide a different outlook to the students. The concerned authorities should thereby promote creative and innovative education so as to expand the knowledge and thinking base of the students.
It’s apparent that in order for students to be prepared to navigate a 21st century, they should first become literate with the 21st education exercises (Murphy, 2008). The 21st literacy exercises include media, information, ecological function, cyber illiteracies, emotional and financial illiteracies among other (Wesch, 2012). It is, therefore, essential that teachers collaborate with students and work together so as to provide better quality education.
Even, the educators or the tutors need to undergo for the training so that they can update them with the new and fresh knowledge on a given course. It is necessary for them as well to stay updated and provide the students with the new knowledge on any given subject. It will help the students to get trained as per the requirements of the 21st century. The world is becoming challengeable day-by-day and hence, it is the responsibility of the school management authorities to provide the best quality education to the students.
Nevertheless, policymakers and educators should adhere to make the curriculum that will include the global corporation and technological advancements in helping to solve many critical issues that face humanity. In addition, as we move forward to realizing the a 21st educational system, it’s important that the curriculum should be developed to address research technologies that are environmental friendly and energy efficient.
Belasco, J. (2009). Teaching the Elephant to Dance. California: Springer.
Grant, J. (2010). Director of the After School Alliance, 145.
Kellner, D. (2009). New Media and New Literacy’s: Reconstructing Education for the New Millennium. New York: Springer.
Moore, A. (2004). The Good Teacher: Dominant Discourses in Teaching and Teacher Education. London: Routledge-Falmer.
Wayne, A. (2011). Teaching under the new Taylorism: high-stakes testing and the standardization of the 21st century curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43(1), 25-45.
Wesch, M. (2012). See his works at Digital Ethnography. New York: Springer.