As we face an unknown, unseen and unpredictable future that is going to require problem-solving and innovative thinking, it is clear that our current and future learners will need to meet another set of requirements that are viewed as quality indicators and necessary dimensions for future success. These requirements are outlined as the “Four Cs” of 21st century skills. They include communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving as well as creativity. In an increasingly competitive global economy, it is not enough for students to acquire subject-level mastery alone. These 21 st Century Skills are necessary for all levels of success.
Typically, these skills are taught in brick and mortar settings as the teachers and students interact face-to-face. However, the “Four Cs” can be achieved in online environments as well through the use of various forms of technology. This article highlights teaching and learning in a virtual environment in which the teachers and students are logged into an online platform and engage in synchronous and asynchronous instruction through numerous digital resources addressing the 21 st century skills.
Although the need of integration of “Four Cs” has been advanced into normal classroom environment, it is not as clear as to how these skills can be achieved in an online setting such as a virtual classroom.
Since the growth rate of online programs has exponentially increased in the wake of COVID19, the given info- graphic describes “Four Cs” along with the various digital resources that can be used to implement each one of them.
Effective communication skills are critical for teachers to employ in the delivery of pedagogy, classroom management and interaction with their class. Presentation platforms such as Prezi, Sway, Microsoft PowerPoint, Videos support the ability to communicate the course content. Demonstration videos accessed from YouTube, lecture videos from TED talks, or educational videos such as those on Khan Academy or Teacher Tube can be utilized in virtual classrooms as effective pedagogical and assessment tools. Flipgrid elevates text-based discussion forums with teacher and student constructed videos. Teachers and students can create a grid about a specific topic and encourage peers and even people from around the world to record a short video about the topic. It allows learners of all ages to share their voices and respect the diverse voices of others. Kahoot offer features that teachers can use to quiz participants on-the-spot questions pertaining to any topic . Presentation and demonstration platforms of this nature allow participants to access the content over and over and “relive” the experiences as many times as desired.Collaboration:
Wherever communication exists, the opportunity to collaborate can occur as well. Platforms of Google like Google Meet, Google hangouts, Google Classroom; Zoom and Microsoft Teams helps to increase real-time collaboration between learners The collaborative tools described above provide participants the opportunities to learn together, increase social presence, promote interactivity and build a sense of community Typically, these interactions involve users asking and answering questions in real time and are commonly supported by media such as videoconferencing and chat”. Blogs, such as WordPress, Edublogs, is also a prevalent platform for group work. The teachers can group students on creating a blog collaboratively, and can monitor continuous progress with detailed user reports.Critical Thinking:
The implementation of critical thinking and problem solving skills in any instructional setting, including virtual classrooms, are valuable skills that enhance learners’ abilities to think and face real world situations, with more independence and ownership. Podcasts are audio-visual content which revolve around the hosts talking about a range of ideas, anecdotes and stories for entertainment or research purposes. A Virtual Field Trip (VFT) is a great critical tool because it offers experiential learning to students. Premade VFT experiences such as Discovery Education ,Virtual Field Trips, Google Sky to name a few, offer visits to iconic locations for rich and immersive learning experiences. Edpuzzle is another virtual tool which can be employed to create a more customized and personalized virtual experience. Instructors can upload any video, customize it as per the learners needs and embed questions, comments, and feedback in it.Creativity:
With the use of instructional technologies, participants can engage with tools that build on their ability to practice creative thinking, work creatively with others, and innovate. Bubbl.us and Popplet offer virtual mind-mapping experiences as participants construct mind-map diagrams that capture facts, thoughts, and images. Canva is another app which specializes in graphic designing. Stromboard allows participants to create a personal mind-map or collaborate with others to generate and build mind-maps together, Pen pal platforms like ePals and PenPal Schools can expand participants views on topics as they engage in projects related conversations with global partners.
The ability to adapt to uncertainty, preparing students for college, career, new job roles and responsibilities will form the core of modern education. Digital resources discussed in this article, can be utilized to provide participants the time needed to remember, comprehend, apply, analyze, examine, and craft theoretical, conceptual, procedural, and meta-cognitive knowledge. A smart and dynamic curriculum is the best investment a school can make to prepare students for tomorrow’s knowledge economy. When merged into and threaded through instructional content; communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving are completely accessible through a virtual environment. Thanks to extensive innovation in the field of technology, it is easier than ever to imbibe these closely intertwined 21st century skills.