Philosophy of Technology at ISB - 21st Century Skills

How students learn: (K – 12)

“As society changes, the skills needed to negotiate the complexities of life also change. In the early 1900s, a person who had acquired simple reading, writing, and calculating skills was considered literate. Only in recent years has the education system expected all students to build on those basics, developing a broader range of literacies. To achieve success in the 21st century, students also need to attain proficiency in science, technology, and culture, as well as to gain a thorough understanding of information in all its forms.”

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
-Alvin Toffler, noted futurist

At ISB when we make reference to “21st Century Literacy Skills” it is important to note that this broad term has within it, two distinct parts. The first is the hard skills required to use the technology (eg. computers, cameras, phones etc.) ubiquitous in our modern culture. The second is the critical thinking skills that must be applied to the use and application of these tools. Becoming literate in this new age means being able to access, select, move, adapt material and work between environments, operating systems, and information mediums with ease and a critical eye. When an information problem arises, knowing where and how to find the answer to it is just as important as finding the answer itself. Developmentally these skills look very different K – 12, but are crucial to how students learn in this area of curriculum.

The successful teaching and learning of 21st century literacy skills occurs when relevant and meaningful curricular contexts exist. ISB uses an integrated model of technology integration across the curriculum. By creating environments that allow students to interact with technology as a tool for discovery, learning, and creating, we enable cognitive connections to be made. When students learn the same skills in a variety of subject areas, they begin to see broad applications for the tools they are using. When students are expected to put as much thinking and effort into the process behind building a final product as they are for the final product itself, 21st century skill-building happens.

When it comes to becoming competent with technology, students learn best by doing. When the use of educational technology is tied to the curriculum and the curriculum in turn is linked to real-world issues, powerful connections are made. Learning with technology and skill acquisition is contextual and the best integration happens when it is relevant to what is occurring in the classroom. For example, technology is often used to aid students in math as they create graphs and tables to help them analyze data, present finding, and promote critical thinking.

Students learn best when a variety of learning styles are accessed through good teaching and instructional practices. Throughout ISB, technology is used (via Smart Boards, overhead projectors, laptops, surround sound systems, VCR, DVD etc.) to assist all learners to visualize concepts, map ideas, and interact with the teacher and other students in different ways.

Students learn best when their teachers are aware of and are applying strong pedagogical practices and multiple instructional strategies. A significant percentage of all ISB faculty have undertaken current professional development in the area of research-based knowledge about teaching and learning.

Students also learn best when they know there is an audience for their work and ideas. ISB teachers are starting to incorporate Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts, imovies, voicethreads, etc.) in their lessons and units to provide their students with an authentic audience for their writing and thinking. In the High School IT courses, student achievement is recognized on a global scale. Examples of this can be seen in the 3D-Modelling course where student work is often published in the globally issued monthly magazine of Form Z.

When it comes to information literacy and research students learn best when they are asked broad essential questions and are asked to make connections and create new information. Students learn best when a process approach is applied towards information collection, synthesis, and application. Even deeper learning occurs when students are made accountable and are assessed on the thinking that goes into this process, and not just on the final product. When the process that goes into the creation of an end-product is valued as highly as the end-product itself, research tells us that students learn and develop the strongest research and information literacy skills.