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Ian G. Kennedy
Gloria Latham
Hélia Jacinto

Education Skills
for 21st Century
Voices From a
Global Online
Educators’ Forum
SpringerBriefs in Education

More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/8914

Welcome to our Chrestomathy1
We are like flower gatherers and butterfly collectors, curating and cataloguing
our delicate collection, always looking for new species and new trends. The but-
terfly has an uncertain future. It does not know about its future job as a chrysalis.
Nevertheless it builds up its strength for that unknown role. As long as butterflies
learn to adapt to change, the species will survive.

A collection of choice literary passages, used especially as an aid in learning a subject.
Ian G. Kennedy · Gloria Latham · Hélia Jacinto

Education Skills for 21st

Century Teachers
Voices From a Global Online
Educators’ Forum

Ian G. Kennedy Hélia Jacinto
University of the Witwatersrand University of Lisbon
Johannesburg Lisbon
South Africa Portugal

Gloria Latham
University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW

ISSN  2211-1921 ISSN  2211-193X  (electronic)

SpringerBriefs in Education
ISBN 978-3-319-22607-1 ISBN 978-3-319-22608-8  (eBook)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015951389

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As a long serving (32 years) practicing secondary school science teacher, a

question about what the 21st century teacher needed to know and be able to
do fascinated me. In my professional position, I hear many complaints about the
“students of today” and it worries me. Is it the students, is it the system, is it us, or
a combination? In the responses to this question, I was hoping for some answers.
This seemingly a straightforward question on ResearchGate raised several side
issues and started me speculating along a number of different avenues. From a
sociological perspective, how is the complex task of teaching done under different
social conditions across the world? Philosophically, are teachers really supposed
to be the “bandaids for the ills of society”? And the key frame of the question is,
what should we be doing to effectively prepare students for a future we have not
yet experienced and have difficulty imagining?
The question also clearly speaks to the issue of professional renewal. Teachers
always have been good learners. Perhaps to prepare for the 21st century, we need
to be the best of learners, ready to adopt and adapt as needs arise. As the authors
themselves admit, to help teachers in the complex process of personal renewal
“was our vision for compiling this monograph”. This theme of professional
responsibility appeared throughout the thread, recognising that teachers work
with their students in classrooms around the world, doing their absolute best to
ensure that each and every student is successful and ready for whatever the future
may hold.
At a base level, one could ask, “Does the 21st century teacher need to have
different skills from a teacher at any other time?” Superficially, the answer is
obviously yes. At the very least, information technology is advancing at such a
pace that teachers need to be skilled to at least a level where they can converse
meaningfully with the “digital natives” that they are beginning to encounter. What
became apparent though, was that many of those who responded restated those
characteristics that we know have been important to teaching at any time in the
past, while others hinted at a desire to rethink old paradigms in the hope of creat-
ing a new order. Karl Popper would be pleased with the possibility of paradigm

vi Foreword

shifts inferred in many posts, as demonstrated by one of the authors, who, while
developing a social network site with her students recognised a need to reconsider
the meaning of communication skills.
It has been said that the future is unknowable, and this is the key to understand-
ing many of the responses to the question. Considering the apparently increasing
pace of change as technologies shrink the world, the future is becoming even less
predictable. An awareness of this problem was evident in the number of responses
describing those characteristics that could be termed metacognitive or learning
how to learn. This raised the issue of an appropriate model for teaching. Many
posts recommend that teachers become a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage
on the stage”, now that Google is the preferred source of all information for mod-
ern students. The advent of MOOCs as a preferred distribution strategy for higher
education makes the sage on the stage a difficult model to sustain anyway.
Educational research is tied into such long-term outcomes that by the time
hypotheses are meaningfully tested, society has moved on and the conclusion may
or may not remain valid. Consequently, research in educational arenas is doomed
to chase its own tail. The authors of this monograph recognised an opportunity to
tap into a different, readily accessible source of data, a type of collective wisdom
at a moment in time to see whether it could shed light on an issue of importance.
There were 386 contributors to this forum2 by September 2014. Some were
experts in the field, some at the very least, experts in thinking, but all have had
access to a great store of research evidence: the students themselves. Such student
behaviours are valuable indicators of the effects of their societies and the educa-
tional systems in which they developed. By drawing together the thoughtful opin-
ions of the contributors, the authors build a valuable springboard for future
research. Surely, this process of attempting to gather meaningful data from
responses to a question on a specialised social media site is novel, with the poten-
tial to inform education researchers meaningfully.
As a mere poster, who dipped in and out at random intervals, the thread gave
the appearance of an interminable soap opera, where the narrative took seemingly
random twists and turns, and yet the authors have successfully abstracted a set of
thematic ideas that should provide fascinating reading for the intending and con-
tinuing teacher, the researcher into teaching and education, and the educational

2014 Mark Gould

Beaudesert State High School
Beaudesert, QLD, Australia

Available at https://www.researchgate.net/post/Which_skills_must_21st_century_teachers_have_

Unlike most professions, teaching comes packaged with a blueprint, or an embed-

ded chip that tells us how to “do school” no matter what the sector or context.
As we have all been students, we have learned how teachers are “expected to”
teach. Much time, energy and money goes into replicating the past through teacher
training, induction and professional development. This means that teaching and
education generally are the hardest to change in society. Yet Fullan (1993) and
many other theorists believe that change is a journey not a blueprint. And it is this
journey of needed change that this monograph reports on. Our findings are from
ResearchGate, an online forum where educators and researchers frame and answer
questions and globally connect with each other. Our question was to identify
the skills that 21st century teachers must have to ensure that high-quality learn-
ing takes place. This topic thread was created by one of the three authors (Hélia
Jacinto) with well over a thousand responses posted from participants in 26 coun-
tries from a wide variety of disciplines, sectors and contexts. The Appendix sum-
marises them.
To try to capture the essence of their posts, this monograph exposes the ways
that the research data were gathered and analysed, the themes that arose from
the discussion thread and a direction forward for current and in-service teachers/
ResearchGate is a networking site for scientists and researchers to ask and
respond to questions, learn more about teaching, find research collaborators and
to share research results. Every day of the week, around the clock, ResearchGate
posters reply speedily to even the most specialised and arcane questions. Some of
the posters are novices, just entering the field of teaching, while others are experi-
enced teachers and researchers. A critical review of their posts yields a collective
wisdom seldom heard from the teachers on the ground.
This monograph project came about because a couple of ResearchGate posters
recommended that a summary be made of what had been discussed. We put up
our hands, because we also wanted to better understand the ideas being expressed.
Our hope is that teachers and researchers can learn from these posts and produce

viii Preface

high-quality learning for the 21st century. We generated a list of 23 categories of

skills that are arranged alphabetically by first letter in an acrostic table to help the
reader internalise our classification.
As intimated above, the following question is the focus of our attention. In the
next paragraph appears the full question as posted on ResearchGate.
The industrial revolution is long gone, as well as teaching to follow a certain
routine, procedure or task. Today’s world is changing by the minute, and we “all”
have access to such changes almost immediately. So teachers, today, have to pre-
pare students for a world that is totally unknown, for jobs that do not exist yet, and
hopefully, those future men/women will be able to create those innovative jobs.
Are teachers, in your countries, being prepared for these responsibilities and chal-
lenges? How?


Fullan, M. (1993). Change forces: Probing the depths of educational reform. London:

We would like to thank ResearchGate and all the posters for their posts, and Mark
Gould (one of the posters) for the Foreword. Thanks go also to the referees of this
The small delicate butterfly shown in the frontispiece and illuminations was
photographed by the author (Ian Kennedy) in the Kuranda Butterfly Farm in
Australia, March 2003. It hints at the small, delicate steps required to implement
our vision for transformational change.


1 Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Research Questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Background. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Disclaimer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2 Mixed Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Thematic Analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Qualitative Comparative Analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
The Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
3 The Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
4 Results of Thematic Analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
A: Ability to Select, Analyse, Synthesise, Infer, Rationalise. . . . . . . . . . . 21
B: Building Knowledge, Constructivism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
C: Change Agents. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
D: Developing Digital Literacy in Teachers and in the Classroom . . . . . . 26
D1. Digital Literacy, What Is It Really? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
D2. Digitally Literate Teachers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
D3. Digital Literacy in the Classroom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
E: Ethics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
F: Facilitating Fast, Critical, and Effective Feedback. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
F1. Feedback Has to Be Fast, and Today It Can Be. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
F2. Peer Assessment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
F3. From Student to Teacher on Methods and Manner of Teaching . . . . 36
G: Generating Problem-Based Learning Situations, Guide by the Side . . . 37
H: Holistic Learning: Inter-, Multi-, Trans-Disciplinary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

xii Contents

I: Inspiring, Innovating, Inventing, Imagining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
J: Job Needs, Entrepreneurial Skills and the Global Village. . . . . . . . . . . 41
J1. Entrepreneurial Skills. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
J2. The Global Village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
K: Knowing Your Students, Caring for Them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
L: Learning to Learn with Curiosity, Lifelong Learning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
L1. Curiosity for Knowledge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
L2. Lifelong Learning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
M: Metacognitive Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
N: Non-invasive Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
O: Outcomes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
P: Participatory Learning, Playing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
P1. Participatory Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
P2. The Playing Field. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Q: Questions and Question Generating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
R: Regular Upgrading of Course Materials, Reflecting on Relevance. . . . 61
R1. Regular Upgrading. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
R2. Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
R3. A Delightful Tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
S: Skills in Social and Work-Related Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
T: Thinking: Critically and Creatively, Logical Minds
and Problem Solving. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
U: Uncertainty, Diachronic Teaching. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
U1. Uncertain Identities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
U2. Diachronic Teaching. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
V: Verification or How Do We Know Students Are Learning? . . . . . . . . . 72
W: Willingness to Learn, Worth Doing Is Hard, Work Engaging— 
Interesting—Motivating, Passionate Teaching. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
W1. Willingness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
W2. Worth Doing Is Hard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
W3. Work Engaging—Interesting—Motivating. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
W4. Passionate Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
5 Comparative Analysis Findings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
The Nature of Educational Change. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Tolerance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Global Challenges and Opportunities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Creativity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Problem-Based Learning and Entrepreneurship. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Contents xiii

6 Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
Limitations of the Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
Recommendations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
7 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
The Final Word. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
Appendix: The Posters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Glossary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
References Supplied by Posters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

Three teachers/researchers asked: What is the collective wisdom about teachers’

skills for 21st century students and how does it compare with literature on
educational change? They elected to study a topic thread, posted by one of the
three authors, which was as follows: What are the skills that 21st century teachers
must have to ensure that high-quality learning takes place? In a time of unprec-
edented change, the three, who were also participants in a global online research
discussion group, assumed the role of authors to summarise, analyse and celebrate
the myriad of ideas generated in a topic thread that resulted in well over a thou-
sand responses from across 26 countries. Through comparative analysis, they then
compared the posters’ ideas to some Big Thinkers in education.

Keywords 21st century teachers · Digital literacy · Education · Knowledge · 

Lifelong learning  ·  Problem solving  ·  Professional development  ·  Teaching and


• Quotations from the sources appear in boxes, with the full name and date
appended to prevent ambiguity.
• «Each paraphrase from a post is delimited via the devices shown here, which
the first-named author invented for this monograph. Note that the double guil-
lemets are italicised for greater visibility.»
• All edits to posts were only for ease of reading and clarity.
• We have added considerable value to the posts by doing so, and interested read-
ers can always access the original, as we have been meticulous about naming
and dating each reference.

Chapter 1

Abstract  This chapter provides the context for the research, recognising the
urgent need for educators to confront and alter traditional teaching practices. The
research questions are shared: What skills must 21st century teachers have to pro-
mote high quality learning? And how do the views of teachers and researchers
compare to those of a number of Big Thinkers? The authors describe their unique
data set derived from a global online forum where the voices of educators are
explored and celebrated. Conventions used in the monograph are also described.

Keywords  High quality learning  ·  Prepare students  ·  Teaching and learning

This monograph presents a rarely exposed view about the teaching of future skills
from the practitioners. It is also our way of demonstrating that teachers’ ideas mat-
ter and deserve to be heard.
We are aware that many old jobs do not exist any longer. Many current jobs
will cease to exist this century. We cannot predict all the new jobs. It is obvious
that old skills no longer suffice. So there is a need for generic skills to be taught,
things like how to unlearn, and how to relearn. We are publishing this monograph
to confront the past practices that are so ingrained in teaching. We found value
in academics worldwide discussing together what to do about the rapid change in
information distribution and what this means for teaching and learning in the 21st

© The Author(s) 2016 1

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8_1
2 1 Introduction

The two responses that received the most votes by readers for being quality
posts were from Frederic Briand (Nov 22, 2012) and Warren Kinston (Nov 29,
2012), which we quote in full:

1. This is a profound question. How to optimally prepare students for a

world changing at an unprecedented rate, knowing that Education is
one of the most powerful instruments of change. To begin with, break-
ing the inter-disciplinary barriers in school/university curricula must be
a priority. Holistic learning should prevail over fragmented education.
Otherwise the leaders of tomorrow will continue to ignore, and thor-
oughly mismanage our increasingly complex, multi-dimensional world.
In particular students should acquire proper tools to confront and analyse
uncertainties. As the development of history is non-linear, non-deter-
ministic, we should teach them how to expect, (and) how to handle the
unexpected. Because, by definition, the new is not predicted—Frederic
Briand. Nov 22, 2012.
2. To answer this question, you need to have a conceptual framework for
learning. … When you say that teachers have to prepare students for a
world that is unknown (surely “totally” goes too far), then you are not
talking about learning but rather about personal maturation. Every stu-
dent has always gone out into an unknown world and had to create their
own life.
There should be limits here on what to expect of teachers. Governments
(who fund most teaching) want maturation to produce docile, socialised
individuals. Better just let youngsters grow in their own way. A useful
approach, if authorities don’t block you and you can restrain your biases,
is getting students to reflect on values like curiosity, freedom, power,
compassion, understanding, responsibility etc.—that will certainly aid
maturation. … —Warren Kinston. Nov 29, 2012.

This monograph now marshals together, organises, analyses, summarises and dis-
cusses the responses that were posted.
The authors decided to use ResearchGate as it is a global common room for
discussion about research by professionals. Membership of ResearchGate is con-
fined to those with confirmed academic E-mail addresses. On 2015-3-2, research-
gate.net stated that it had over 200,000 questions asked by members. Altogether,
over a million answers were posted on that date, i.e., an average of more than five
posts per question posed.
We augmented our study with current and relevant literature. Using a
Comparative Analysis, we compared the ideas of a select group of Big Thinkers on
21st century education with the posters’ responses to look for reoccurring themes
as well as to seek out differences. We also wanted to identify any lacunas that
emerged. However, rather than coding data, this analysis sought to discover a con-
sistent narrative by reading and rereading the posts as single cases.
Research Questions 3

Research Questions

1. What skills must 21st century teachers have to promote high quality
2. How do the views of teachers and researchers compare to those of a num-
ber of Big Thinkers?

Our research subquestions were developed during our analysis. While there are
many links between categories, we divided the field so as to handle them for our-
selves and our reader.
Our classifications are labelled alphabetically. For example, two of our sub-
questions [“F”] and [“T”] are:
“What [Feedback] skills must 21st century teachers have to promote high quality learn-
ing?” and
“What [Thinking] skills must 21st century teachers have to promote high quality learn-
ing?” Etc.


A glossary is presented at the end of this monograph to explain terms that may be
unfamiliar to the reader.


We were interested in using ResearchGate as a source as we were active partici-

pants and because of its broad scope as a multi-national, multi-cultural, multi-lin-
gual, and multi-disciplinary site.
It seems that an inability to change in purposeful ways with respect to teaching
and learning rests in the “self evident” beliefs that have been sold and carried forth
for far too long. In their haste, writers often grab at fifth or tenth interpretations
of a method rather than returning to their origins and starting there. We adopted
an approach from the data embedded in the archived discussion thread. We asked:
What was the data (in the archived discussion thread) trying to tell us?
The individual voices in the source lend authenticity to the collective voice. To
add value we extracted the important intelligence in the archive, and present it in a
didactisised guide mainly for teachers. Where the posts in the archive prove inad-
equate, we point the reader to references that the posters have provided.
4 1 Introduction


The author (Hélia Jacinto) had three roles: questioner, poster and analyst. The
other authors (Ian Kennedy and Gloria Latham) had two roles: poster and analyst.
The authors decided to use the terms, “the posters” and “they” throughout the
analysis (even though the authors were part of that community). It helps to show
that the authors tried to approach their research with some sense of objective
Chapter 2
Mixed Methods

Abstract  This chapter describes and defends the Thematic Analysis and the
Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) used in the research design. In the
Thematic Analysis, a total of 1812 responses were generated from the question
posed on ResearchGate: What skills must 21st century teachers have to promote
high quality learning? From these responses, 200 posts were analysed. In the
Comparative Analysis these responses were compared to a select group of Big

Keywords  Case study research  ·  Qualitative comparative analysis

We undertook practitioner based, mixed method research. Thus, being a partici-

pant in the learning was mandatory. We examined our practices through the eyes
of others.

Thematic Analysis

In ResearchGate, only professional, relevant posts are permitted to persist. We

elected to follow questions that had been posted under the educational topics.
There, we selected one insightful and important question (by one of our authors).
We collected responses from the initial posting of the question until we deemed
that saturation had been achieved. (ResearchGate does not close threads down.)

© The Author(s) 2016 5

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8_2
6 2  Mixed Methods

We did not select representative examples; we used full (100 %) sampling.

However, our usable response rate for obtaining relevant lucid material being
returned was far less than 100 %, as we had to discard off-topic posts, thanks, and
responses with little content. That was the editing phase of our research, and was
a natural part of the processing of our data. For compression and subsequent con-
sumption, we present what is a pre-digested version of a very long and unending
From the posed question, the responses were collected in a data base. From
that data base, we eliminated trivial and off-topic posts and any posts in which we
could find no key phrases (i.e., skills) to highlight. We put each response into one
or a few pigeon holes (i.e., by tagging). This process helped us to “see the simplic-
ity beneath the complexity” (Kennedy, to appear).
Over the period Nov 15, 2012 to March 2 2015, the question we concentrated
on had received 1812 responses. We found that new ideas were starting to satu-
rate by Jan 17, 2013 and we stopped collecting new data for the data base on that
date. Some 200 posts had been generated and formed our primary data base while
some relevant data was obtained after those dates.
We then highlighted key phrases in the eligible posts, and categorised the key
phrases and the posts according to one or more categories, which became the rows
in our Table 4.1. We expanded Table 4.1 by adding rows as we found it necessary.
We sorted the posts according to categories. We reorganised the table to have one
letter per row with a “reasonable” grouping of skills.
We then reported on the common voice of the posts on that category, support-
ing that category with the literature while actively seeking for gaps in the literature
and in the posts.
We used only what other posters considered to be high-quality posts of think-
ing about the needed skills. Given that we have a wide range of posters, we first
narrowed our analysis to include only those posts that we considered to be high-
quality posts on the topic. We were influenced by the posts relevance to the ques-
tion being addressed.
The general quality of responses was strong, with none garnering any down-
votes. All of our top 50 posters garnered 3 or more up-votes, each from at least
3 different readers or co-posters. Their names appear in the Appendix. To ensure
replicability and impartiality, the top posters for our thread were based on votes
accrued by the top 76 posts in the thread we analysed. We had to tally 76 top scor-
ing posts to get 50 posters, because some posters posted more than once. There
were no down-votes, so we did not have to reduce any scores. See Appendix for
the list of the contributors who received the most acknowledgements from other
posters for what they wrote.
We now present the steps that we followed in our method.
We started by collecting every post to the discussion thread through copying
and pasting all posts into a spreadsheet. The full data included the whole thread as
it was presented on ResearchGate, i.e., the name and institution of the author, the
statement posted by the author and date.
Thematic Analysis 7

To aid us in our approach, we started by highlighting key words in bold, until

we had established a folksonomy.
We fixed obvious spelling and grammar errors where meaning was unclear.
We numbered any external references that the posters supplied. We later
checked the existence and suitability of the references. We have appended them
for teachers/researchers to use as a resource.
As we read the posts, we built up a framework (Table 4.1) for classifying the
main contribution of each post. This was so that we could sort the thread accord-
ing to contributions, to bring similar contributions together.
This and the next were vital steps in understanding the coding of categories.
In the previous step, we had arranged the texts of the posts as records, one per
row. The texts of the posts were in column A (field A). We then added another col-
umn. We typed in an easy-to-remember alphabetic code to characterise each main
We sorted automatically.
We paraphrased each post if it improved the text; otherwise we inserted open-
ing and closing information in an attempt to tie together and synthesise the cat-
egory. We referenced each post with the poster’s name and date of post.
We felt it was important to view these categories of skills and ideas individually
and as a cohesive whole.

Qualitative Comparative Analysis

Within the Mixed Method Approach we employed a Qualitative Comparative

Analysis (QCA) on the categorised data. The QCA examined the central ideas of
the posters who responded to the ResearchGate question as a single case. We also
examined ways in which their ideas compared to a number of Big Thinkers in the
area of 21st century education. This enabled us to better understand the source of
their thoughts and the progression of the overall thread.
QCA can be defined as:
“A research method for the subjective interpretation of the content of text data through the
systematic classification process of coding and identifying themes or patterns” (Hsieh and
Shannon, 2005, p. 1278).

QCA is a research strategy that originated from Charles Ragin (1987) as a way
to envisage the dialogue between ideas and evidence. Here was a means to com-
pare theories being advanced by a group of Big Thinkers and those of teachers/
Alternatively, we can use Patton’s definition, which is
“Any qualitative data reduction and sense-making effort that takes a volume of qualitative
material and attempts to identify core consistencies and meanings” (Patton 2002, p. 453).
8 2  Mixed Methods

To better understand the thinking that our posters brought to the discussion
about skills that teachers need for 21st century learners, we grouped them together
as a single case. Yin (1984, p. 23) defines the Case Study research method as
an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life con-
text; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and
in which multiple sources of evidence are used.

The Cases

While we recognised that the membership in this case was filled with linguistic,
cultural, political and philosophical variables, this is what made it a chaotic yet
exciting place to investigate.
For instance, the posters work in a myriad of educational sectors and institu-
tions. They have a diversity of positions, with years of experience ranging from
managing large research centres to teaching in high schools, undertaking their
PhD’s or are in honorary positions. They also represent a wide variety of disci-
plines with science areas appearing to dominate the field.
We gathered global data from a diverse range of teachers/researchers in many
sectors and disciplines to show a range of contexts (see Appendix).
For instance, the posters come from and work in a myriad of educational sec-
tors and institutions with differing beliefs, languages, traditions and practices.
Three examples suffice:
1. A German lecturer, currently working in Thailand, shared that students are
being prepared by “sharpening their pencils and copying their teachers’ chalky
shadows on the blackboard.” (Bruckner, Jan 15, 2014).
2. From India, Mischra Vinod posted that they [his educational leaders] are mak-
ing teachers become job providers rather than job seekers (June 10, 2013) and
3. Francisco Moreno posted that Mexican teachers are not being prepared for new
responsibilities and change (March 20, 2013).
While recognising this diversity of tradition we still considered the posters to be a
single case since all
• posters are teachers or researchers with an interest in bettering their teaching
and bettering learning for 21st century students.
• believe needed change in education is crucial.
• have joined ResearchGate.
• have responded voluntarily at least once to the question posed by Hélia Jacinto:
What are the skills that 21st century teachers must have to ensure that high quality
learning takes place?
The Cases 9

This research process was iterative. Returning to the case often lead us back to a
previous step and revise our interpretations.
To support our process, we also turned to a number of Big Thinkers in educa-
tion. Membership in this case was linked to their unified beliefs.
• They all think locally and globally, towards the unknown in their directions in
• All believe that the current education models are broken, beyond repair and pro-
pose a new paradigm.
• All are against standardisation, high stakes testing and a common core
• All believe in the power and ability of youth to solve many of our global
• All favour an innovative, entrepreneurial and creative approach to education.


Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis.
Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.
Kennedy, I. G. (to appear). How to do research: Today’s tips and tools. MS.
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Ragin, C. C. (1987). The comparative method. Moving beyond qualitative and quantitative strat-
egies. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Yin, R. K. (1984). Case study research: Design and methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Chapter 3
The Literature Review

Abstract  This chapter explores the plethora of literature on teachers’ 21st century
skills. The authors explore two broad paradigms found in the literature. The first
and most prominent advocate educational reform; formulating ways to better the
existing systems and provide teachers with new skills to teach. The second seek to
replace the existing systems in order to provide teachers with far greater autonomy
to re-imagine education holistically for the future.

Keywords  Educational change  ·  Educational systems  ·  Young people

In an attempt to capture, study and then comment upon rapidly changing times,
educational theorists and policy makers have produced a vast spate of research
studies, policy documents, books, discussion papers and reports concerning the
skills required for 21st century teachers and learners. There appear to be two
strong dissenting voices emerging from the literature. However, both of these
voices are united in their belief that rapid educational change is essential (Darling-
Hammond 2009; Fullan and Langworthy 2013; Hargreaves and Shirley 2012;
November 2010; Pink 2005; Robinson and Aronica 2009; Zhao 2012, among
­others). What separates the voices is the nature and direction for acquiring the
desired change. Do we teach 21st century skills as discrete entities in order that
they can be measured or do we treat 21st century skills in an integrated holistic
fashion where they are fostered and supported in authentic contexts? The voices
of the reformists seek to better the existing systems of education by listing and
­inserting new competencies into the current curriculum in order to meet today’s

© The Author(s) 2016 11

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8_3
12 3  The Literature Review

needs. The voices of the revolutionists seek to replace the existing systems in
order to re-imagine education holistically for the future. (See Chap. 4 for a further
analysis of the literature.) Both parties in the debate would agree with Fullan and
Langworthy (2013) that we are currently experiencing an educational crisis.
Trilling and Fadel (2012, p. 6) make use of the Chinese symbol for crisis to
help explain where we are educationally. In this review of literature we draw
­comfort from the opportunities:

wei ji
danger opportunity.

Gardner and Policastro (1999, p. 223) explain that creative individuals are
c­ haracterized by their ability to turn disadvantages into advantages. They analyse
their strengths and weaknesses and then leverage their abilities to the optimum.
They frame apparent defeats or failures as prods to greater achievement in the
future. They also demonstrate intra-personal intelligence—the ability to understand
and guide one’s own creative process and to put checks on illusory or emotional
interferences in the process.
To review the plethora of literature in this area, we called upon a select num-
ber of international authors from a wide variety of disciplines, sectors and inter-
est groups. We report on a few relevant published peer-reviewed research, policy
documents, discussion papers and more general literature in the form of opinion
pieces, conference presentations and education forums. Our choice of literature
was limited to those we felt best illuminated these two dissenting voices along
with the questions we wanted to better understand from the literature. How do the
reformers’ approaches to 21st century teaching skills differ from how the revolu-
tionists approach these needed skills? As well, how do the views of the posters in
the forum under consideration align with those in the literature?
A report commissioned by UNESCO edited by Roy Singh Raja at the turn of
the 21st century (1991) advocates a future-oriented direction. This report assists
in articulating aspects of the division in thinking surrounding educational change.
In emphasizing the need for future-oriented development of education, one is in fact
pointing to the limitations of “re-active” education, that is education policy and practices
which only attempt to respond to changes or crises as they occur, or more often, after they
have occurred. The image of education as a “conservative” force refers to this passive-
reactive functioning of the education systems rather than to the element of continuity by
conserving what is worthy. The reactive education policies and practices have in a high
degree a propensity to homogenize and to stress “behavioural objectives” focused on the
individual. On the other hand the future-oriented education is actively promotive of inno-
vation and dynamically evolving social goals. (Singh 1991, p. 7).
3  The Literature Review 13

Many authors have written about the vastly different workplace of the 21st cen-
tury and the urgent need to address the challenges that these workplaces present in
education. Ledward and Hirata (2011) provide an overview of 21st century skills.
Their review suggests a significant shift over the last century
from manufacturing to emphasizing information and knowledge services. Knowledge
itself is growing ever more specialized and expanding exponentially. Information and
communication technology is transforming how we learn and the nature of how work is
conducted and the meaning of social relationships. Shared decision-making, informa-
tion sharing, collaboration, innovation, and speed are essential in today’s enterprises.
No longer can students look forward to middle class success in the conduct of manual
labour or use of routine skills – work that can be accomplished by machines or easily out-
sourced to less expensive labour markets. Today, much success lies in being able to com-
municate, share, and use information to solve complex problems, in being able to adapt
and innovate in response to new demands and changing circumstances, in being able to
command and expand the power of technology to create new knowledge. (p. 1)

Yet, even with the certainty of current and now obsolete educational systems
founded on industrial models of education reformers continue to tinker around the
edges of change attempting to repair what exists by tacking on technology and
21st century skills. Linguists Lankshear and Knobel (2011) refer to this practice
as the “old wine in new bottles” syndrome. Speaking about American education,
Prensky (2011, p. 1) feels certain that reformers are leaving schools behind in the
20th century. “We can’t win the future with the education of the past.” Prensky’s
views can be extended to all countries with reforms that seek to add 21st century
skills onto old systems. Prensky (2011, p. 2) goes on to argue that “Currently, lots
of money is being spent on trying to fix the educational ‘system.’ But what the
reformers haven’t yet understood is that it’s not the ‘system’ that we need to get
right; It’s the education that the system provides.” (p. 2).
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Report: Preparing teachers and developing school leaders for the 21st cen-
tury (Schleicher, 2012, p. 3) states that “Nations around the world are undertak-
ing wide-ranging reforms to better prepare children for the higher educational
demands of life and work in the 21st century.” The report documents many of
these reforms.
The initial premise is that cooperation with others and connecting with others
are essential skills for a knowledge based economy, learning to collaborate with
others and connecting through technology are essential skills in a knowledge-based
economy. The authors brought together more than 250 researchers across 60 insti-
tutions worldwide who categorized 21st century skills into four broad categories:
Ways of thinking. Creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making
and learning
Ways of working. Communication and collaboration
Tools for working. Information and communications technology (ICT) and infor-
mation literacy
Skills for living in the world. Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social
14 3  The Literature Review

The project also outlines the nature of assessment systems that can support
changes in practice, illustrates the use of technology to transform assessment sys-
tems and learning, and proposes a model for assessing 21st century skills.
This OECD project (Schleicher 2012) provides clear direction for categorising
the needed 21st century skills, yet the extensive report overlays all recommenda-
tions on existing educational systems. The traditional discourse of systems, com-
petencies, standards, frameworks and accountability permeate the project. In the
conclusion it is reported that:
Various frameworks have been developed to systematize the skills that young people need
to be successful in this rapidly changing world and to identify the competencies which
teachers need, in turn, to effectively teach those skills to their students. The demands
placed on teachers in the 21st century are high:
Teachers need to be well-versed in the subjects they teach in order to be adept at using
different methods and, if necessary, changing their approaches to optimize learning. They
need a rich repertoire of teaching strategies, the ability to combine approaches, and the
knowledge of how and when to use certain methods and strategies. (Schleicher 2012, p. 52)

All of these areas of skill development were recognised and discussed to

some extent by the posters in the ResearchGate forum. The skills have also been
addressed by countless researchers who could be described as having a myopic
view of their own areas of interest and often fail to see the whole. For instance, the
value of technological literacy has been discussed in the literature from e-learn-
ing (Lamb and Callison 2005) to web 2.0 technologies (Greenhow et al. 2009).
Gigler’s (2015) extensive case study examines digital technologies for the rural
poor in Bolivia. Gigler examined the most marginalised sector in Bolivia and rec-
ognised that the greatest gains were in improving their conditions and well being
as individuals and collectively. Sugatra Mitra’s research was initiated because of
the difficulty of getting skilled and knowledgeable teachers to teach in rural India.
Mitra’s (2004, 2005, 2006; Mitra et al. 2005) well documented, “Hole in the wall
Project” had computers which were embedded into the walls of marginalised
communities with full access to the internet. Watching children learn to use the
computer, find information in English, and teach other children gives testimony
to desire fuelling the learning. Yet all of these projects raise caution with respect
to the political, cultural, social and economic complexities and sensitivities when
creating purposeful change.
It is not within the scope of this monograph to survey all those who propose
new skills for 21st century learners. Yet the sheer volume of research and recom-
mendations suggests the enormity and urgency for change. The literature is filled
with research reports and opinion pieces providing the necessary skills that learn-
ers require in this new global environment.
For instance, whole brain research has been the focus of many. Pink (2005)
believes in re-imagining what education must become. Pink feels that “we are
­moving from the information age to the conceptual age.” He suggests that we
are moving more to a world where the whole brain of the student will be used.
Recruiting students for jobs will require job-seekers not to just know informa-
tion, but to be able to conceptualise. He emphasises the need to include creativity,
3  The Literature Review 15

empathising, whole picture-seeing, as well as traditional skills such as analytical

skills. Pink describes these within the Six Senses of Design, Story, Symphony,
Empathy, Play and Meaning.
Hargreaves and Shirley’s text The Global Fourth Way: The Quest for
Educational Excellence (2012) follows their 2009 text, The Fourth Way: The
inspiring future for educational change. The authors explore whole system
change by illuminating six case studies from Finland, Singapore, Alberta, Ontario,
England, and California. They take a look back at the systems in place in the
past to try and discard those aspects that are no longer useful and to hold onto
aspects of what the future requires. The educational change that Hargreaves and
Shirley advocate is one focused on an inspiring dream, collective responsibility,
system learning, professional capacity building, communication, collaboration,
and innovation. They are against centralization of educational power, emergence
of charters, alternative teacher certification programs, standardisation, or top-down
sanctions of teachers.
Hargreaves and Shirley conclude “When teachers are empowered to design and
develop their own innovations that they feel have the potential to really improve
student learning, then changes in beliefs can and do actually precede changes in
practice” (p. 105). It is this focus on teacher empowerment that can propel educa-
tional change forward.
Fullan and Langworthy (2013) in Towards a New Pedagogy for Deep Learning
advocate a global partnership building collective capacity. They address four
criteria that need to be integrated in pedagogy and technology if we are provid-
ing exciting and innovative learning experiences for all students. This direction
is something that is desperately needed to move education forward into the 21st
­century. Education, according to the following four criteria, should be:
(i) irresistibly engaging for all stakeholders;
(ii) elegantly efficient and easy to use;
(iii) technologically ubiquitous 24/7; and
(iv) steeped in real-life problem solving.
Fullan and Langworthy go on to argue that the triad of pedagogy, change man-
agement and technology, when working together in harmony is fundamentally
liberating and this liberation is needed when the old, outdated school system we
currently enjoy is becoming unsustainable.
A further list was provided at an EdNET symposium, The APEC (2008)
Member Economies identified four “overarching competencies”:
• Lifelong learning
• Problem solving
• Self-management
• Teamwork.
In their symposium, they point out that these skills are vital for success in the
workplace. Sadly, the development of these “overarching competencies” in
16 3  The Literature Review

students is often overlooked in favour of spending more time on knowledge acqui-

sition in order to “get through the syllabus”. Contributions from member countries
detail these “overarching competencies” and provide appropriate definitions.
The summary and case study by Ledward and Hirata (2011) review the litera-
ture on 21st century skills and
suggests that education must be upgraded for learners to thrive in the new global econ-
omy. Success in today’s world requires the ability to access, synthesize, and communicate
information; to work collaboratively across differences to solve complex problems; and to
create new knowledge through the innovative use of multiple technologies.

Kereluik et al. (2013, p. 7) provide an analysis of the categories of knowledge

needed. Their analysis and review led them to identifying three broad c­ategories
with three subcategories within them. Their three broad categories are “Foundational
Knowledge, Meta Knowledge, and Humanistic Knowledge”.
Each of their categories and subcategories is comprised of references from
­several, and in most cases a vast majority, of the frameworks. The following is a
summary of their foundational core.
I. Core—Foundational Knowledge—
1. high academic standards,
2. mathematical and scientific competence,
3. core subjects,
4. quantitative literacy,
5. disciplined mind,
6. advanced knowledge in traditional subjects, and
7. core curriculum.
II. Meta Knowledge—Creativity and Innovation—
1. inventive thinking,
2. creativity,
3. creativity and innovation,
4. creativity and critical thinking,
5. creating mind, and
6. play, design.
III. Humanistic Knowledge—Ethical and Emotional Awareness—
1. ethical reasoning,
2. empathy,
3. ethical mind, respectful mind,
4. management of feelings, emotional intelligence,
5. emotional intelligence, and
6. high ethical standards. Kereluik et al. (2013, p. 7–11)
We now turn attention to some select literature that moves away from isolated
skills and standards and addresses a more global perspective on educational
change by proposing a new paradigm for teaching and learning. There is the belief
3  The Literature Review 17

that it is no longer possible for current systems of education to be effective if

renewed as they have out lived their usefulness. These authors see current trends
and future outlooks as possibilities. They examine how teachers can foster skill
building for an uncertain future by changing the focus of how one learns, the envi-
ronment for learning and the resources for learning while attending to the learner’s
interests, talents and expertise.
Zhao (2012, p. 34) claims that international assessment programs like Program
for International student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics
and Science Study (TIMSS) provide motivation for the advocates of homogenous
education and international benchmarking: ‘If all goes as planned by the advocates,
Zhao argues, students will be taught the same thing at the same pace by the same
methods’. He looks at the human costs—financially, the costs politically and socially
and the huge costs of missed opportunities.
Some authors look at the needs in the global workplace. The United Nations
World Youth Report (November 24, 2011) indicated that in 2011, 75 million youth
between 15 and 25 were unemployed worldwide due in part to the global finan-
cial crisis. The researchers of the report were interested in hearing from youth to
address this unemployment issue. They held an e-discussion on youth employment
from 11 October to 7 November and received approximately 1100 comments from
young people around the world. This is a learner centred approach to research that
permeates the thinking in this section of the literature.
The youth report’s contributions addressed various aspects of overcoming
challenges to finding decent work, better aligning educational systems and skills
development with labour market needs, as well as the social implications of
employment trends on the lives of young people.
Zhao (2012), Rosenstock (2008), Mitra and Rana (2002), Mitra (2004, 2006)
among others believe in the potential of youth to solve many of our global prob-
lems while acting as entrepreneurs. They discuss the importance of teachers’ fos-
tering an entrepreneurial mindset.
The World Economic Forum (2009, p. 9) defines entrepreneurship as
a process that results in creativity, innovation and growth. Innovative entrepreneurs come
in all shapes and forms; its benefits are not limited to start-ups, innovative ventures and
new jobs. Entrepreneurship refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action and
is therefore a key competence for all, helping young people to be more creative and self-
confident in whatever they undertake.

In an interview with Rob Salkowitz, he says:

The spread of digital technology to young countries is driving a new style of entrepreneur-
ship, creating demand for new skills and new approaches. Successful entrepreneurs… rein-
vest in training and education because the established systems are not working for them.
The take-away is that educators need to think about ways to bring out the latent talent
and creativity of budding entrepreneurs and prepare other students for the different skills
needed in a more entrepreneurial-driven economy. This need might mean greater public-
private and transnational dialogues around education. (Kumala and Leuschner 2011)

With an entrepreneurial mindset, teachers and researchers have an authentic

and engaging platform in which to broaden and strengthen creative problem-solv-
ing, curiosity, imagination, risk taking and collaboration. Harel and Papert (1991)
18 3  The Literature Review

coined the term Constructionism—learning by making. His belief is that we need

to build knowledge as we are involved in the making.
High Tech High in California, is offered as one example of a school that is
practising Constructionism; a place set up for entrepreneurs as a project and prod-
uct oriented way of learning. Its founder Rosenstock (2008) combines vocational
students and academic students together to design projects and create innovations.
While we cannot teach creativity, the need for educators to foster a creative
mind was mentioned frequently as vitally important in the literature (Schleicher
2012; Kereluik et al. 2013; Pink 2005; Robinson and Aronica 2009; Robinson
2011; Trilling and Fadel 2012) among others. Creativity and innovation are often
combined. In the discussion, Sir Ken Robinson in his well known TED talk on:
How Schools Kill Creativity believes creativity is as vital as literacy. In educational
systems where standardisation of learners is sought, creativity is destroyed.
Howard Gardner explains that
creative individuals are characterized by their disposition to convert differences into advan-
tages. They reflect on their goals. They analyse their strengths and weaknesses and then
leverage their abilities to the optimum. They frame apparent defeats or failures as prods to
greater achievement in the future. They also demonstrate intrapersonal intelligence– the
ability to understand and guide one’s own creative process and to put checks on illusory or
emotional interferences in the process. (Gardner and Policastro 1999, p. 223).

Zhao (2012) wants teachers to have far more autonomy to teach to the needs
of their students; to identify and foster their students’ individual talents. He also
champions the educational move to entrepreneurs. Zhao believes in teachers sup-
porting not suppressing students’ passions, curiosities and talents. He understands
well that standardisation with its race to the top is not what is required in our rap-
idly changing and challenging world. He wants individuals to stand-out rather than
fit in. What then are the skills teacher require for deeper learning to take place?
Nussbaum-Beach (2011, p. 2015) offers this advice:
As educators, we need to realize that learning can now take place 24/7, with or without
us, and that young people come to school knowing much more than we do in some areas.
They have the potential to learn anything they want to learn at any time they want to learn
it. Therefore, instead of focusing on the content, we really need to focus on what it means
to be a learner and how to help students learn deeply and most effectively. We need to
model metacognition and demonstrate the value of thinking about thinking. We need to
lead them to think deeply and help them understand how to synthesize and analyze and to
create—to operate in Bloom’s realm of higher-order skills.

She goes onto say:

We [teachers] need to be visionary. We are not marching slowly into the future; we are
speeding toward it in a whirlwind frenzy, mandated by the exponential rate of change. As
educators, we must continuously ask ourselves: What do students need to learn to succeed
in the world to come? A world we can’t even imagine.

Heppell (2011) is a British educator of new media environments and the CEO
of Heppell.net which specialises in ICT. He believes with the rapid pace of change,
that teachers need vision and values. He asks the highly provocative question:
Is this the death of education and the dawn of learning?
3  The Literature Review 19

The following chapter provides our results. In the first section we report on
the themes we discovered in the posts. In the second section we report on the
­findings of the comparative analysis between the themes of the posters and the Big
Thinkers selected as a case study.


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EDNET symposium. (2008). 21st century skills for all. http://hrd.apec.org/index.php/21st_
Century_Competencies 21st century competencies. Last Accessed May 5, 2015.
Fullan, M., & Langworthy, M. (2013, June). Towards the new end: New pedagogies for deep
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Chapter 4
Results of Thematic Analysis

Abstract  The posts from an online global exchange were categorised into themes
that revealed a comprehensive picture of new and pre-existing 21st century skills.
Central to the required skills that the educators’ addressed were critical thinking,
problem-solving, collaborative learning, learner-centred teaching and digital literacy.

Keywords Communication skills · Critical thinking · Digital literacy skills · 

Digital tools · Global village · Knowledge building · Lifelong learning · 
Problem-solving  ·  Thinking skills

Table 4.1 presents the themes discovered, with the categories we assigned.

Some of the categories in Table 4.1 relate to the student; others relate to the
teacher/researcher (e.g., professional development), others apply both to the stu-
dent and teacher/researcher (e.g., lifelong learning).

A: Ability to Select, Analyse, Synthesise, Infer, Rationalise

Students in the 21st century have more information at their fingertips than ever
before. This information is published in multiple forms freely by anyone, without
editorial approval and without editors checking the sources for accuracy or bias.
While we must welcome the participatory culture of information distribution and
sharing, the availability of information also raises new challenges for educators.

© The Author(s) 2016 21

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8_4
22 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Table 4.1  Central topic (contribution) that was addressed by the post and skill
A Ability to select, analyse, synthesise, infer, rationalise
B Building knowledge, constructivism
C Change agents
D Developing digital literacy in teachers and in the classroom
E Ethics
F Facilitating fast, critical, and effective feedback
G Generating problem-based learning situations, granny method (structure and
encouragement), guide at the side
H Holistic learning: interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary
I Inspiring, innovating, inventing, imagining, critical and creative thinking, logical
mind, problem solving
J Job needs and the global village
K Knowing your students, caring for them
L Learning to learn, lifelong learning, learning continuously, curiosity
M Metacognitive skills
N Non-invasive education
O Outcomes based education
P Participatory learning, playing
Q Questions and question generating
R Regular upgrading of course materials, reflecting on relevance
S Skills in social and work-related networks
T Thinking: Critical and creative thinking, logical minds and problem solving
U Uncertainty, Diachronic teaching
V Verification or how do we know students are learning?
W Willingness to learn, worth doing is hard, work engaging, interesting, motivating,
passionate teaching

To respond to these challenges, educators must further refine and develop their
skills in text selection, analysis and synthesis so that they can assist students in
becoming critical consumers and producers.
As 21st century skills, those mentioned in the heading above certainly are not
new. Benjamin Bloom, who created a taxonomy of skills of higher order thinking
did so in 1956. Two of his students, Anderson and Krathwohl, revised the skills
in 2001, where for example, evaluation and synthesis became creating and evalu-
ating. The posters understand the need for greater attention to developing these
skills in a time of easy access to multifarious authors and texts.

The years will roll on, new technologies will emerge, new problems will
arise … but basic competencies must prevail. What is (most) important is the
ability to comprehend, analyse, synthesise information, infer from the con-
text, think and problem solve, rationalise, and be a critical thinker.—Rozhan
Idrus. Nov 19, 2012.
A: Ability to Select, Analyse, Synthesise, Infer, Rationalise 23

The following set of skills will equip students with the ability to critically
select and evaluate the literature and the data they amass. Several posts express the
importance of the “right” skills being imparted:

The ability to ‘cut & paste’ means nothing when the (students) don’t under-
stand the context and have no ability to join information together. We want
them to be critical thinkers rather than rote performers. Technically this has
not changed [anything]. Only the peripherals have changed. These compe-
tencies are still relevant even into the next century. This is more like, ‘Give a
man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him
for a lifetime.’ Give them the skills, they will adapt for the future…—ibid.

The next poster emphasised that students need to be given the right tools to
analyse. Furthermore, they must be able to analyse not just to extract knowledge,
but also to extract ethics.

I agree that students should have the right tools to address and analyse
the uncertainties … But among such tools should be the ability to ana-
lyse both knowledge (and) ethically human actions arising from the use of
knowledge.—Sérgio Silva. Jan 3, 2013.

Another poster suggested that analysis (of research papers) was being taught
incorrectly. For example, medical students were being taught that as alpha values
were not mentioned in the paper, the paper was summarily dismissed as not wor-
thy of being discussed by the health-care team.—William Lester. Dec 10, 2012.
While there will always be a need for developing basic higher order thinking
skills, the posters recognise the importance of teaching these skills in knowing
hands with carefully selected, discipline-specific measures.
Learning is not regurgitating information, but rather transforming that informa-
tion into knowledge by skilfully and critically manipulating that information.

B: Building Knowledge, Constructivism

In the 21st century, knowledge building is fostered by building a bridge from the

known to the new. Yet unlike traditional knowledge acquisition, students, often
in teams, are assisted to become the creators rather than merely the consumers of
new knowledge.
24 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

We paraphrase one emphatic poster who expressed the thought: «All teachers

should refuse to teach the way they were taught.»—Ramanujam Meganathan (Nov
17, 2012). He was apparently quoting Andy Hargreaves, and acknowledges that
“Critical pedagogy and Constructivist ideas are important.”
Jonathan Edwards, on the other hand, placed a stronger emphasis on the future
need for teachers to understand “constructivism as an approach to the learning
with digital tools”—Jonathan Edwards. Nov 15, 2012.

The world is ever changing, and teachers need to stay abreast of the cur-
rent technology and allow students to infuse it as they experience new
knowledge.—Elzora Watkins. Nov 15, 2012 (Our emphasis).

A language arts teacher pointed out that her students were generating their own
literature. (Always our emphasis.)
Our poster pointed out:

A hallmark of inquiry-based instruction, when it is conducted properly, is

that students are engaged in learning … content while engaging in investiga-
tions to answer their own questions about the world. This takes care of the
relevance and motivation factors. Perhaps most important, such an approach
leverages the simplicity and limitlessness of episodic learning while provid-
ing the thinking skills necessary for learners to be critical consumers and
producers of information—Robert Landsman. Dec 14, 2012.

The beauty of inquiry approaches is the flexibility they permit in thinking

and creating. True inquiry (or scientific practice) fosters [the] development
of critical thinking” writes another poster. “Students can then apply these
skills to research on the WWW, with respect (to) any specific problem set
they are tasked with.—William Jackson. Dec 21, 2012.

Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges …which they invite
their students to cross [over], then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully
collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.—Issam Sinjab.
Dec 24, 2012.
B: Building Knowledge, Constructivism 25

«I think that the practice of taking students to build knowledge from work projects, using
problem solving and case studies can be a very interesting approach for a teacher in the
21st century. A very common mistake is to confuse access to information with knowledge.
The teacher’s job must be to focus on activities and pedagogy that emphasises the role of
the student and the production of knowledge. In the knowledge society the transmission of
knowledge has lost the importance it had in the past. Today the need is for students to get
good information. They need to select and use it creatively to solve problems, create pro-
jects, study a reality, understand a situation, etc. I think the concept of rescuing of Piaget
thought might be a great help especially if combined with the basis of constructivism.»—
Sérgio Silva. Nov 20, 2012.

Knowledge building should be a partnership between teachers and students and

students with other students and members of the wider community. Knowledge
building has currency when there is an authentic task, projects, motivation and

C: Change Agents

Teachers who have a willingness to embrace change and become leaders in pur-
poseful change are “the activist teacher professionals”, as Sachs (1993) describes.
She argues that the “new professionalism requires teachers to become change
agents with the objectives of improving the quality of education, improving stu-
dent learning outcomes, and improving the status of the teaching profession”
(p. 54). These teachers, says Sachs, will need to be technologically literate, ethi-
cal and have sensitivity to the expertise of others, and be reflexive, socially criti-
cal, and prepared to fight for the curriculum, students’ needs and best interests,
educational policy, and the teaching profession. This is a tall order, yet it is a need
expressed by many educational experts who understand the urgency for teachers to
stand-up and fight for the profession.
Fullan (1993), Professor Emeritus of the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education of the University of Toronto is a worldwide authority on educational
reform. He understands, as do many writers, that change is not a blueprint but a
journey and often a dark and complex journey into the unknown.

To those who see the light before the others, they are the change agents.
The others might [as well] be from N.A.T.O. (No Action: Talk Only.)
—Francisco Cua. July 7, 2013.
26 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Later analysis of the vast amount of data further revealed this paraphrase:
«21st century teachers must be education leaders. They must be skilled leaders,
­motivating, inspiring, compassionate, change agents and innovative.»—Florencia Maldia.
Oct 19, 2013.

Maldia’s post reiterates the need for self-efficacy in the teaching profession.
Many educational institutions hire people who fit into their traditional ways of
teaching and learning rather than people who stand out. Together as agents of
change, we have the power to revolt against the past and destroy old thinking to
build a 21st century future.

 : Developing Digital Literacy in Teachers and in the


Many posters pointed to the need for teachers and students to learn to be computer
literate, Web literate and database literate. We start this section with a poster who
eloquently asks our subquestion:
«My 6 year old foster child got hold of an iPad when she was 3 and was transfixed by it,
more than with the television. There is no doubt in my mind it accelerated her literacy
and numeracy development. She now speaks and sings in 3 languages. So, what does this
imply for the 21st century skills of teachers?»—Jon Mason. Feb 22, 2013.

The discussion about the skills necessary to make effective and efficient use
of technological tools goes back to the early 70s, where the development of com-
puter literacy skills essentially addressed only the topics of hardware and software.
Back then, being computer literate meant knowing elementary topics such as the
way an operating system works, how to save, copy, open, delete or print a file,
how to format a disc, how to use specific types of software (e.g., the text editor,
the spreadsheet). This view of computer literacy was actually very similar to the
existing view of general literacy that included mastering skills such as reading,
writing and counting, almost as a clone of the abilities that one could master with
Training programs for computer literacy began to advance with progress
in technological tools. New abilities were included in the broad notion of computer
literacy, particularly with the rise of the Internet. By the 90s it was expected that a
technologically literate person would be proficient in using data collection tools,
statistical tools, and communication tools that could include presentation programs.
However, the general community was already considering knowledge about ethical
issues in manipulating data and safety in using the Internet. By including a palette
of indispensable skills to the notion of computer literacy, a new concept—digital
literacy—arose. This includes not only the knowledge and essential abilities about
the general use of computers, other digital devices and associated software, but
also attitudes and behaviour related to the effective use of those tools, placing an
emphasis on the cultural, economic and political aspects of digital tools.
D: Developing Digital Literacy in Teachers … 27

New types of digital tools need new behavioural patterns, new abilities, and
new knowledge. By 2006, a European project entitled DigEuLit aimed at devel-
oping a theoretical framework to guide European teachers and students in shar-
ing a common understanding about digital literacy. Digital literacy comprised the
“awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools
and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyse and synthe-
sise digital resources, construct new knowledge, create media expressions, and
communicate with others, in the context of specific life situations, in order to ena-
ble constructive social action; and to reflect upon this process” (Martin 2006).
We continue to look at the characteristics of two 21st century teenagers: «My
daughter is 19 years old and studying media. I thought she was reading lit-
tle. But she was born with computers at home and can be described as a “digital
native”. She still thinks that books are important, but the digital format is more
“familiar”.»—Sérgio Silva. Jan 7, 2013.

The nerds of today copy PPT files or take photos with their smartphones of
slides with comments.—Michael Brückner. Jan 15, 2013.

These two snippets are a sweet foreboding of the characteristics of future


D1. Digital Literacy, What Is It Really?

The most straightforward idea of what it means to be a “digital literate in the 21st
century” is that, despite the everyday emergence of new digital tools, there is a
relatively stable set of basic competences that must be mastered. Some posters
included the appropriate use of digital tools to identify, access, manage, integrate,
evaluate, and analyse digital resources—in a functional way.

(C)ompetence with “contemporary” digital literacies is essential. The chal-

lenges of the 21st century in relation to digital technologies will no doubt
be mind-boggling—they will continue to rapidly evolve and the changes
we have witnessed in a little over 12 years are already revolutionary.
Importantly, “digital literacy” used to be conceived in terms of managing the
Windows-Icon-Mouse-Pointer … environment. But now, we also have the
more intimate Natural User Interface … of hand-held technologies and a far
wider range of channels of engagement as a consequence of social media.
—Jon Mason. Feb 22, 2013.
28 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Though, as this perspective receives general agreement it is also correct to

emphasise other aspects of digital literacy: those related to the actions and atti-
tudes of the digital literate person.

The years will roll on, new technologies will emerge, new problems will arise
… but basic competencies must prevail. What is more important is the ability
to comprehend, analyse, (have skills in) information synthesis, inference from
context, thinking and problem solving, rationaliz(ing), and critical thinking …
(This) skills set will take one through anything.—Rozhan Idrus. Nov 19, 2013.

Furthermore, the set of elementary skills mentioned above are often related to
other types of literacy, mostly emerging from the cultural and social empowerment
that the Web 2.0 brought to life. These skills include: «visual literacy, audio lit-
eracy, tactile literacy, and digital literacy.»—Jonathan Edwards. Nov 15, 2012.

I spearheaded a collaborative action research project with an elementary

school … (largely poor, immigrant children) to change how we thought
about and taught literacy which invited into the classroom the children’s lin-
guistic backgrounds (talk about global learning!), and digital ways of com-
municating that lifted kids from the controlled static 2D page and gave them
collaborative ownership of dynamic projects. Some examples: Grade 4/5
read Cinderella, and (made) critical takes on Cinderella and then explored
the human senses, found what they thought was beautiful in all of them and
did collaborative works creating, explaining (in multiple languages) and
presenting these in a filmed gallery. The Ugly Duckling was read across
different … age groups, where they created paper maché duck hats, and
ultimately, an interactive Smartboard game where a mirror hid a real child’s
face. Then, identified by a question … they offered … their personality,
interests, and so on. (S)o a face was identified not by features but by person-
ality, if you will. There were many such fascinating projects over 10 years—
see my RG page for references.—Heather Lotherington. May 9, 2013.

Still, regarding the communicational aspect of technological tools, a deep discus-

sion pervaded the debate about digital literacy—which also refers to the ability “to
write” programs. While today coding skills are viewed as being beyond the reach of
the average [non-mathematical] person, “the number of jobs for programmers and
computer scientists is growing rapidly, with demand far outpacing supply” (Resnick
2013). Yet, for quite some time, several researchers and well known authors have
been emphasising the importance of developing coding skills as from an early age—
as a way of preventing future generations of becoming excluded from the production
of digital knowledge (DiSessa 2000; Papert 1980; Resnick 2003).
D: Developing Digital Literacy in Teachers … 29

This particular skill is acknowledged by the next poster, whose contribution

also includes the necessity of understanding how digital literacy skills may be
affecting the way we grasp the world to acquire knowledge and learn from these

Actually ICT has changed our relationship with knowledge, which ulti-
mately means changing the way we learn. One of the most visible con-
sequences of this is what we call progress of development. We have seen
children 6, 7 years old writing lines of computer code. And it is becoming
increasingly common. Children decipher complex codes present in a speed
game (and with a cognitive process totally unknown to us yet).—Sérgio
Silva. Feb 20, 2013.

But one other distinctive feature of the contemporaneous understanding of digi-

tal literacy entails the idea of mastering the use of technological tools for under-
standing the surrounding world and acting accordingly for solving the problems
we come across.
Previous quotes encompass the importance of developing critical thinking skills
associated with the use of digital media: that is, the ability to reason using technologi-
cal tools and to make informed decisions. These skills were highlighted by numerous
posters in their comments, even if they were not specifically addressing digital literacy.

There is so much information available to students … so teachers must try to

help students develop critical thinking skills. These skills will help students
to research and evaluate the information that they find so that they can select
the useful information. I also believe that teachers must be literate in com-
munication technology in order to be aware of the sources of information we
can have access to.—Mariyam Nashida. Jul 14, 2013.

One of the posters shared his own interpretation of the illiteracy that he runs
into in a sector of society, namely bank managing, and he invents the metaphor of
the “educated illiterate robot”:
«In a country that I know of and where I had the experience to interact with so-called edu-
cated people, I observed that these people, by culture or by training, are becoming what I
call “educated illiterate robots”. Recently I had the sad experience of dealing with bank
managers who do not even have the slightest idea of the “real” requirements for a foreign
corporation to remit money to another country to open a branch office. I call them illiter-
ate in the practice of being bank managers. I call them robots too because they do not
think, as they are following orders like a robot but without the artificial intelligence chip
embedded.»—Francisco Cua. Oct 14, 2013.

What can teachers do to prevent their students from becoming educated illiter-
ate robots?
30 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

D2. Digitally Literate Teachers

As for the skills that 21st century teachers must develop and use in their teaching
practices, the posters provided and discussed several ideas. Some mentioned the
difficulty in being aware of and dealing with the vast amount of information that is
retrievable online that 21st century teachers can use for teaching purposes. Being
able to cope with large databases is only one aspect of this competency as teachers
must also have the ability to incorporate these resources in their classrooms which
usually impel a shift in the teaching process, moving away from teacher-centred
approaches to student-centred learning strategies.

The presence of wide information bases—Wikipedia, Internet in general,

million books project, etc.—is another aspect for the teachers to be prepared
for. … This will influence the teaching process, and instructional approaches
being followed.—Sasikumar Mukunda. Nov 18, 2013.

Apart from that, today’s teachers must encourage their students to develop the
necessary skills to deal with those digital databases: a simple query may retrieve
information that needs to be assessed and selected. However, the way that teachers
use the digital information available is another aspect of their digital competence
since it must engage students in learning. Some posters address this issue and pro-
pose the idea of an interactive/playful classroom.
«I suppose that one important skill would be the approach adapted by the teacher. Thanks
to the Internet, information about a particular topic is easily available even to the student.
One needs only to Google the query. Thus, a teacher needs to remember this aspect, and
present this freely available information in a way that students, despite having the content,
can understand and find interesting. That apart, the interactive/playful classroom is a very
good skill that needs to be acquired by the teacher.»—Manan Desai. Nov 19, 2012.

The next poster proposes a way of re-thinking two of these ideas through the
concept of a “digital sandbox”. A digital sandbox connects different types of abili-
ties related to the manipulation of the digital world and then using that knowledge
for implementing classroom scenarios based on experimental activities:

I have always embraced the concept of the “digital sandbox”, wherein, the
connectivity, the visualization of data, the transfer and manipulation of data,
is brought together in a conceptual space that has plastic qualities that can be
useful for work and for play. Teachers have the unique opportunity to take
advantage of this appealing, malleable force. I believe the “playful”, experi-
mental qualities are often short-changed for the need to take it all too seri-
ously, to be efficient, and profitable, rather than considering something else.
Consider… does not the human mind develop most rapidly as a result of
“play” and from the drive of “curiosity”?—Jonathan Edwards. Nov 19 2012.
D: Developing Digital Literacy in Teachers … 31

D3. Digital Literacy in the Classroom

What can today’s teachers do to prepare their students for the 21st century labour
market? Apart from identifying the skills that 21st century teachers must develop
and master, and how to put them into practice, the posters proposed changes or
shared examples of classroom scenarios that promote the development of digital
literacy skills to face the 21st century challenges. They recommended that every
teacher should use digital literacy skills in their daily practices of preparing the
future employees for the electronically permeated workplace.
«One of the skills that a teacher (read: facilitator) can promote is information literacy
skill. This skill can be creatively embedded in the curriculum. The focus is to help stu-
dents to recognise data, evidence, and chain of reasoning, as they engage in their learn-
ing. My “flavour” of learning is to develop skills and enhance students’ ability to connect
relevant knowledge during their active learning engagement. Skills development is like
teaching students to fish rather than giving them the fish.
When students have learned to recognise data or evidence, and reason coherently and
logically, then they should be encouraged to distinguish between the relevant and the irrel-
evant, between the important and the unimportant, between the accurate and the inaccu-
rate, and between fact and opinion. After students learn to distinguish, then they should
learn to organise the data or evidence, and to reason.
This kind of teaching promotes competence (i.e., competency-based learning) and
develops skills to develop a learning portfolio (evidence-based learning).»—Francisco
Cua. Sep 20 2013.

Some of the contributions point out that 21st century teachers who are digi-
tally literate, may actually lead classroom revolutions. Changing the role of the
classroom actors by placing a stronger emphasis on student-centred approaches,
redesigning the curricula, allowing all sorts of digital tools inside the classroom
and validating their learning are just a few examples of what has been put forward
by the posters:
«The solution is to redesign the curriculum to focus on skills development. Introduce
tasks (projects or anything) for students to engage in. Then through their engagement,
introduce them to knowledge construction. For example, the task can be used to develop
information literacy skills. Through the task, students can then be asked to construct
knowledge, such as to identify, evaluate, and organise the data, pieces of evidence, and
reason coherently.
To repeat: Students can be asked to distinguish between the relevant and the irrel-
evant, between the important and the unimportant, between the accurate and the inac-
curate, and between fact and opinion. The new redesigned curriculum should focus
in teaching less and in learning more. Students will have focus in the tests and exams
because teachers will now teach more and students will learn less by memorizing.»
—Francisco Cua. Sep 28, 2013.

The impact of digital tools is now surpassing the traditional views of technol-
ogy (merely assisting human beings or complementing their activities) and this
needs to be recognised when debating learning paradigms. What used to be logi-
cal, linear and sequential (Web 1.0 and teacher-centred approaches such as direct
instruction), is progressively being transformed into a multimedia, multidimen-
sional kind of thinking and acting (Web 3.0 and social learning, gaming).
32 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Really, tablet computing and gaming are going to blow teaching and learn-
ing as we know it out of the water. And if we throw neuroplasticity in there
so that we’re dealing with childrens’ minds rewiring and creating differ-
ent pathways as they are relentlessly stimulated in this digital arena, espe-
cially from complicated games… There are few who don’t game—the way
people learn is going to be changing so quickly as their brains change.
Developments in teaching and learning may be playing catch-up in such a
scenario because I don’t know if we can figure it out fast enough; neuroplas-
ticity will keep us on our toes, definitely!
This is why imagination is going to be crucial to educators and for students
in delineating a path forward in this wide, exciting world. It isn’t for the
faint-hearted, (this) dealing with rapid and constant change—as you find the
solution you may find that the problem has changed! Softer skills, courage,
wisdom, tenacity; psychological skills like being able to cope and so (on)
will definitely become necessary too, given the pace of development.—Laila
N Boisselle. Jan 17, 2013.

«The future students needed in the market should be those “real” people (not robots) who
think. Whenever I look for people, I look at their attitude, common sense, and passion
to excel rather than at their competence or proficiency. Thus, future education should be
a combination of structured education, non-structured, non-formal education, plus infor-
mal education for students to learn to learn and to reflect. Teachers and students alike
should be exposed to the opportunity of the practice of co-teaching and co-learning in a
community.»—Francisco Cua. Oct 14, 2013.

Further reading was also a frequently made offer by the posters that referenced
books, papers, videos, blogs and other websites in order to nourish the debate or
illustrate a point of view:

The 33 digital skills every 21st century teacher should have:

century.html—Issam Sinjab. Jan 1 2013.
Following Dorin Isoc’s provocation, let me share with you Ian Gilbert’s book
“Why do I need a teacher, when I’ve got Google?”—Hélia Jacinto. Jan 3, 2013.

From the posters’ contributions we have identified several perspectives about

“digital literacy” that reflect the different ideas that have pervaded these discus-
sions over the last 40 years. However, there is a general consensus that being digi-
tally literate is a fundamental skill for a 21st century teacher. The majority of the
D: Developing Digital Literacy in Teachers … 33

contributors to this thread find it imperative to develop relevant digital skills and,
above all, they assume it is of utmost importance.

Certainly the new technologies of information and communication and the

demands of a society in which knowledge and information are the basis of
power and creation [so] must be at the centre of discussion.—Sérgio Silva.
Jan 15, 2013.

To sum up, the discussions within this thread about the importance of being
a digital literate in the 21st century focus on two different concerns, which are
closely intertwined. On one hand, teachers must be digital literate persons to be
successful in their personal and their professional lives. On the other hand, stu-
dents—who are the next generation of professionals and citizens—must in turn
be given the right opportunities to learn and develop their own digital literacy
skills. But…

What might happen, if this skill is not promoted (enough) and developed?
Maybe nothing to worry about: next generation’s teachers will be computer-
literate anyway, or?—Paul Vossen. Sep 2, 2013.

E: Ethics

In a time of unprecedented change—with respect to transnational boundaries,

medical breakthroughs, environmental impacts, technological advances, intellec-
tual property, rights versus values, family and community responsibilities—ethical
dialogue is essential and needs to be addressed at all levels of schooling, within all
disciplines and across borders.
We must teach not only content, but also discuss values and principles. A poster
in the middle of the thread provides an overview.
«A very common current confusion has been to understand the school only in relation to
its role in training people in knowledge and learning. But historically the school played
an important role in imparting morals, ethics, values, principles, etc. …»—Sérgio Silva.
Jan 3, 2013.

In a world full of corruption, it seems that we need to re-emphasise moral

«As in the past, the ability to lead the student to ethical reflection and present a moral
front to knowledge and information should be ever present in the ability of teachers of this
century.»—ibid. Nov 19, 2013.
34 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Ethics should become an essential part of all we teach. A useful approach is

recommended by one poster. Get your students to:

reflect on values like curiosity, freedom, power, compassion, understanding,

and responsibility.—Warren Kinston. Nov 29, 2012.

This will certainly aid in bringing them up into mature people.

Another poster reminds us that we should ensure that our students learn
responsibility. For example «to their parents, wider family and others outside the
family.»—Gaurav Kumar. Jan 6, 2013.
This could be a good starting place for the ethics component of the curriculum.

What is the use of education without responsibility; one where discipline

(compliance) is substituted for self-discipline? The message I get from the
youth is that they wish to be responsible for not only how they learn, but
also for what they learn. This does not recommend (externally imposed) cur-
ricula and examinations.—William Jackson. Dec 10, 2012.

The next poster reminds us that “civic education” is important to the state.
—Carlos Queiroz. Dec 16, 2012. Our poster, Gaurav Kumar, Jan 6, 2013, goes as
far as wishing for “a dedicated citizen”.
However, new questions arise:

How to build a global set of values and principles that should be universal
and for which we should also look at?—Sérgio Silva. Jan 15, 2013.

This is a new problem that now needs to be answered.

Our students will be entering and competing in a global work place upon grad-
uation, with common problems to do with disease, poverty, environmental degra-
dation, wealth distribution, employment, educational opportunities.
Queiro also reminds us that “health education” is important. We realise that
without such education, the populace of current students will perish at a young age
or over-population and poverty will occur.
Under this heading our next poster reminds us of the importance of spirituality,
starting with the teacher.
E: Ethics 35

A teacher should have to promote Spiritual skills first and that in himself/
herself first. One can be competent in various disciplines, well versed expert
(and) well spoken but without spirituality one can not be a live soul.—Vinod
Mishra. Jan 15, 3013.

Teachers need to cope with the changing attitudes of the society around them.
Another poster pointed out that punishment was now frowned upon. To this we
would add that girls should no longer hold back from doing any career that they

The changing profile of the learners—cultural, social, psychological, etc.—

is another factor that needs to come in. How do teachers cope with this?
For example, punishing a child is, increasingly being seen as ‘bad’ in
India, where as it was quite routine (and may be expected) in our times.
—Sasikumar Mukundan. Nov 18, 2012.

There is a powerful need for learning to be relevant to the students and for ethi-
cal considerations to be at the heart of their learning.
Throughout the thread, many posters expressed the need that teaching and
learning have at its core, ethical and moral principles. There is an urgent need to
attend to what it means to be human, and to provide authentic, ethical scenarios,
relevant to students’ studies that involve decision making and debate as teacher/
student and researcher.

F: Facilitating Fast, Critical, and Effective Feedback

One of us did a Feedback study with colleagues in the School of Education and
learned much about the power of delivering fast, critical and constructive feedback
on learning. Latham and Faulkner wrote in 2009:
Feedback can be a powerful force in fostering learning, and the things that are being
learned, and it can also prompt students to un-learn in order to re-learn. Feedback can be
a powerful weapon. Whether the feedback is formative or summative it involves far more
than the written comments that are recorded on pieces of assessable work. Every mark
or remark, every gesture, facial expression, every act and every omission that occurs in
and beyond the lecture theatre or classroom is a form of feedback. While we continue
to invest heavily in assessing and measuring student performance, it is also necessary to
invest equal time and energy in documenting, analysing and dialoguing with others about
the feedback imparted to students.
36 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

In this monograph, by feedback we mean reinforcement. Under our heading of

fast feedback, feedback was suggested to be: (1) immediate via technology, (2)
from peers, and (3) feedback by the students on the teacher’s methods and manner
of teaching. The other posters also recognised the potential of feedback to further
learning. They understand that to be beneficial, the feedback had to have a quick
turn around.

F1. Feedback Has to Be Fast, and Today It Can Be

One of the Montessori principles: exercises should be ‘self correcting’

in that the student(s) obtain immediate feedback and can self correct their
response. (ICT appears suited to this.)—William Jackson. Dec 14, 2012.

We know that the feedback from teachers and peers will improve learning.
Feedback from peers to peers and feedback from peers to teachers is especially
effective when it is specific and defended with examples. Students and teachers
need practise in developing feedback skills, as the following sub-headings show.

F2. Peer Assessment

Feedback needs to be detailed enough for the student to be able to make correc-
tions and learn. It needs to be personalised. It can be from peers (e.g., MOOCs.)

It appears that self- and peer- assessment is less invasive than that of adults.
Adult assessment shifts the focus of the student from problem solving to
appeasing the adult.—ibid.

 3. From Student to Teacher on Methods

and Manner of Teaching

A self assessment would only be helpful with the aid of a 360 degree feed-
back… wherein the students provide a feedback on the teacher and the
method of teaching. Based on that, a teacher can improve on the methods
and manner of teaching.—Manan Desai. 19 Nov, 2012.
F: Facilitating Fast, Critical, and Effective Feedback 37

Feedback has extremely large and consistently positive effects on learning com-
pared with other aspects of teaching or other interventions designed to improve
learning. Black and William’s (1998) extensive review of formative feedback drew
together 250 studies that spanned all educational sectors. Not surprisingly, the
review found the substantial benefits of formative feedback to learning across all
disciplines and across all levels of education.

G: G
 enerating Problem-Based Learning
Situations, Guide by the Side

Problem Based Learning (PBL) is a student-centred approach, advocated by

many posters as the direction that 21st century students need to move towards to
develop, refine and practise the skills they will need as professionals. This active,
rather than passive learning approach is considered to foster deep, rather than shal-
low learning. PBL allows students to apply the knowledge, skills and understand-
ing they are being taught in authentic situations. It is currently used in medical
schools around the world. As well it is being used in biological and health sci-
ences, engineering and teaching. The success of problem-based learning often
rests on the selection of an appropriate problem.
As a Constructivist approach, the teacher’s role shifts from traditional models
as a few posters explain. The first poster under our heading writes:

All we can do, is to facilitate this transition; to a world where most children
teach themselves. Perhaps, all that is required is “the granny method”—
learn to stand aside and focus on providing structure and encouragement.
—William Jackson. Nov 16, 2012.

His next post that we used explains the same point but embodies different lan-
guage for the same concept:

I often compare the approaches taken by the same teachers, in the classroom
as opposed to on the sports field. In the classroom they often take the role of
the “sage on the stage”, whereas on the sports field they take the role of the
“guide by the side”.—William Jackson. Dec 9, 2012.
38 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Our following poster echoes the same theme.

The teacher of the future will be as a coach in sport.—Dorin Isoc. Dec 19


The earlier poster challenges us:

The implication (is then) that students should be free to choose not only
for how they learn, but also what they learn. What then is the role of the
teacher?—William Jackson. Dec 20, 2012.

A subsequent poster further challenges:

The role of the teacher is that of facilitator, motivator (inspiring students to

engage independently in their learning), and designer and maintainer of pos-
itive learning environments. A third implication is that teaching and learning
should … emphasise skills development and THEN knowledge acquisition
and that (to) teach less for students (is) to learn more…—Francisco Cua.
Dec 20, 2012.

A later poster agrees: «Teachers should be “facilitators” of knowledge, teach-

ing the students, providing the tools, the techniques to explore, create, understand
and share info. Thus students can take an active role in their learning.»—Laura
Liberto. Dec 31, 2012.
The earlier poster returns and writes practically:

Embedded in that mindset is that students should be empowered to choose

the context of their learning. The school sets the knowledge contents and the
intended learning outcomes. If the curriculum is designed right, then the stu-
dents should be able to choose their own contexts (their applications) as evi-
dence of their learning.—Francisco Cua. Dec 20, 2012.
G: Generating Problem-Based Learning Situations, Guide by the Side 39

The world is shrinking through technology, products and services (and educa-
tion) towards a global homogenising of these. Teachers and students are increas-
ingly able to tap into the best educational material from around the world. This
results in a force in unifying the global syllabus, which in turn allows greater free-
dom for possible employment in many distant countries, even while living in your
home country.
To give a particular example, there is a unifying of what is globally understood
by plagiarising in the research community. Such a global value is transportable
across international boundaries.
Upon graduation, our students will be entering and competing in the global
work place. They will use their global savvy and values to tackle common global
problems, to deal with environmental degradation, disease, educational opportu-
nities, employment, poverty, and infrastructure. Regional and cultural differences
will continue to exist. However, educationally sound learning will give the stu-
dents opportunities to transfer and use their skills in the new environments and if
necessary to assess, act on and adjust their inherent values and principles.

H: Holistic Learning: Inter-, Multi-, Trans-Disciplinary

A holistic approach to learning is one that seeks to educate the whole person (per-
sonal and professional). Its focus is to break down the subject- and discipline- spe-
cific barriers and develop critical and independent thinkers who can transform
their learning to a wide range of contexts. 21st century graduates will need these
interdisciplinary skills. Holistic approaches are learner centred and involve social
interaction and social participation. Prosser and Trigwell (1999) assert that teach-
ing is about creating contexts that make learning possible. Many posters favour a
holistic approach to learning. Yet, their thinking is often at odds with current stu-
dents facing the rising costs of formal education and the availability of information
outside of schooling to meet their immediate needs. Many 21st century students
desire a fast, targeted and more utilitarian education. Therefore it is imperative that
teachers show students how they will benefit in the workplace from a more holis-
tic, multidisciplinary approach. One poster made a strong assertion:

To begin with, breaking the inter-disciplinary barriers in school/university

curricula must be a priority. Holistic learning should prevail over fragmented
education. Otherwise the leaders of tomorrow will continue to ignore,
and thoroughly mismanage our increasingly complex, multi-dimensional
world.—Frederic Briand. Nov 22, 2012.
40 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Trans-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary approaches are not synonymous

with Holistic approaches. With respect to research, Trans-disciplinary or Inter-
Disciplinary approaches often involve a team of professionals from a variety of
disciplines coming together to solve a research problem. With respect to teaching
and learning, these approaches are used as an experiential means to show students
the relationships between disciplines. Another poster commented:

I realise that multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and

complex approaches are emerging as ways of understanding of reality and
social practice.—Rey Segundo Guerrero-Proenza. Nov 16, 2012.

We have today at our disposal educational technology with which we can

integrate technology, pedagogy and knowledge to create holistic learning envi-
ronments. What all the posters above have in common is their desire to pool
knowledge and solve real world problems from a variety of disciplines to better
both the student’s learning and the project under investigation.

I: Inspiring, Innovating, Inventing, Imagining

Skills change lives. The question addressed in this monograph concerns the par-
ticular skills that 21st century students require. One of the posters Jonathan
Edwards (Nov 28, 2014) said that «we as teachers must prepare job creators, not
merely labourers.» Another poster, Richard Greene (Nov 16, 2012) supports
Edward’s view when he posted: We realise that it is insufficient to train our stu-
dents for a target of merely being employed. This is because «there is no longer
any job that can be called safe». What happened to the previously “safe” jobs of
being a draftsman, a typist, a photographic darkroom processor? Once these new
job creation skills are identified, they require ongoing, purposeful development.
Innovative and creative pursuits help us learn about ourselves, our world and our
work. Sir Ken Robinson, a champion of creativity, feels it needs to be embedded
into the very heart of education.1
Many posters advanced their beliefs and thinking regarding the skills of crea-
tivity, problem-solving, innovation and discovery. Edwards (as above) (Nov 28,
2012) asserted that the model of education that fuelled the last hundred years
needs retooling. The classroom should be a place where problems are engaged in,
not just described. For this, information technology is not an end, but a means. We


the-ground-up/. How to Change Education - from the ground up.

I: Inspiring, Innovating, Inventing, Imagining 41

educators cannot claim the role of being the sole providers of content any more—
we have to provide the places and the tools for building the skills of reinventing
the new world on the shoulders of the old world.
In yet another post, Edwards (Nov 28, 2012) supports Krippendorff’s view that
education is a “disruptive” activity, and “Innovation is not an option. It is a funda-
mental requisite of survival.”2
Several other posters know the importance of teaching students how to be inno-
vative which lays a burden on teachers’ shoulders:
Barr and Tagg (1995), in their article entitled “A New Paradigm for
Undergraduate Education” make a serious distinction between a teaching and
learning paradigm. Unfortunately, there are still many teachers who have not
moved from the teaching paradigm to the learning paradigm. What you expect
from such teachers is to teach the standardised curriculum so that students can
do well in the standardised tests and get standard diplomas or degrees. The chal-
lenge in education is that it takes time to make reforms. Learners are in the world
observing how much it is changing, but the system has its set standards that at
times (sadly) block the individual from achieving his/her potential.—Katusiime
Denis. Dec 2, 2012.
The skill areas in this category generated many contributions from academics
that recognise the vital importance of critical thinking skills and creative problem-
solving for innovation and invention and imagination.
And as for imagination, we return to Albert Einstein who said: “Imagination is
more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and
understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be
to know and understand.”

J: Job Needs, Entrepreneurial Skills and the Global Village

The skilling of entrepreneurial students for the unknown world of work; locally,
nationally and globally became an ongoing focus of discussion and also a concern
in this forum.

J1. Entrepreneurial Skills

The first poster classified under this heading hinted that entrepreneurship was
important. A later poster emphasised the need for entrepreneur courses to be rel-
evant to the final career:

2http://www.kaihan.net/thewayofinnovation.htm. The Way of Innovation.

42 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Students in Nigerian universities take courses in entrepreneurial studies.

It is hoped that such will help (the) youths to be able to set up their own
business(es) after graduation. This is not to say that Nigeria is on the right
track because the entrepreneurship courses are not directly related to the
main courses of the students. You will agree with me that if a student (who)
studied engineering, architecture, etc. has to take entrepreneurial courses
in hair dressing, soap making etc., it is (a) bad investment, both for the
youths and the children. If a student will not use the experience of a four
year course in the university, he/she has wasted four years of his/her life.
Why didn’t such a pupil (rather) go to learn soap-making directly after high
school? … It’s a pity.—Chris Ifeta. Jan 3, 2013.

J2. The Global Village

By global village skills we mean learning the skills needed to cope in a global
­village with international competition for jobs. Poster Silva wrote broadly:

The students need to be prepared for jobs in the international economy:

There are local and global social demands for which we must prepare our
students.—Sérgio Silva. Jan 1, 2013.

Brückner expanded on this concept:

You are right with your “global village” metaphor representing the sur-
roundings of information and knowledge practices of today. This applies to
us who are proficient in communicating in a common language. The global
village ends where there is no basis of communication because we cannot
understand each other.—Michael Brückner. Jan 16, 2013.

Our poster Deni took a different tack describing the drivers of the skills needed.
Deni believes that employers are driving the skills demand. He thinks: «What mat-
ters are for the graduates to have the skills that employers need. Employers are
not interested in what students learn, but in making sure that the work is done.
The skills that the 21st century teachers need to have today are determined by
the employers and not so much by the Department of Education or the Ministry
of Education. If you are preparing for the future economy, listen to the employ-
ers.»  —Katusiime Deni. Nov 27, 2012. While this may be true to some extent,
employers and teachers won’t always know the skills needed for the future.
J: Job Needs, Entrepreneurial Skills and the … 43

Schleicher, Directorate of Education and Skills for the OECD reminds us that:
“Due to rapid economic and social change, schools have to prepare students for
jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented
and problems that we don’t yet know will arise”. Schleicher adds: “These technol-
ogies have not just become tools of learning, but networking and knowledge shar-
ing, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship.”3
Concerns about preparing students for employment were also expressed.
Edwards is strongly likening the national Departments and Ministries to stale, out-
of-touch bureaucrats:

The growth of the Rust Belt is fed by Sticks in the Mud. I tell my senior
classes: you won’t find jobs after college because you’re going to have to
make jobs for everybody else.—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 6, 2012.

Posters gave attention to their role in skilling for employment:

Yes, we are working hard to change the mindset of teachers. Our jobs are
not to present information to our students but we should be allowing (the)
students to learn by doing what professionals in their fields actually do. Real
scientists are not paid to memorise lists of words, so why should we reward
students for an obsolete behaviour? You can read Vision and Change4 to see
what biologists are trying to do to move the US standard of undergraduate
education. For practical suggestions on how to accomplish these goals, I rec-
ommend you read free articles from this journal: CBE—Life Sciences
Education5—A. Campbell, Dec 28, 2012.

There was recognition from posters that the skills required for employment
went well beyond discipline knowledge to those skills discussed in other catego-
ries of this forum. These are skills such as resilience, critical thinking, and skills
involving problem-solving, innovation and creation.
Andrea Schleicher argues “The knowledge world is no longer divided between
specialists and generalists. A new group –let’s call them ‘versatilists’—has
emerged. They apply depth of skill to a progressively widening scope of situations
and experiences, gaining new competencies, building relationships and assuming

3http://www.oecd.org/general/thecasefor21st-centurylearning.htm. The case for 21st-century

4https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud. Build a School in the

5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimally_invasive_education. Minimally invasive education.
44 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

new roles. They are capable not only of constantly adapting, but also constantly
learning and growing in a fast-changing world. In a flat world, our knowl-
edge becomes a commodity available to everyone else. As columnist and author
Thomas Friedman puts it, because technology has enabled us to act on our imagi-
nations in ways that we could never before, the most important competition is no
longer between countries or companies but between ourselves and our imagina-
tion” (see Footnote 3).
There is a need for students to invest in their learning. Entrepreneurial
skills can provide students with this relevance to their future jobs in a global

K: Knowing Your Students, Caring for Them

Educational attention has turned away from the teacher dispensing knowledge to the
students generating the knowledge and the teacher serving as a guide. For teachers
to assist the development of a strong skills’ set there is greater recognition (espe-
cially at the tertiary level) of the importance of knowing students so as to tailor their
21st century skills. Our posters responded in chorus to this important challenge.
Teaching is not just about cramming knowledge into brain cells. «As a university
lecturer in the field of psychological subjects, I am preparing future teachers to work
with children and young people. For me, as a psychologist, very important aspects
of working with students are the therapeutic and preventive skills of the teacher. For
example, the building and strengthening of hope, stimulating creativity, the daily
teaching of students to cope with stress, and the development of the so-called virtues
and psychological strengths.»—Renata Stefanska-Klar. Nov 30, 2012.
This thought is expanded on by a later poster, who advocates the «development
of emotional intelligence, resilience to adversity, and adaptability to new environ-
ments and situations.»—Carlos Queiroz. Dec 16, 2012.
We should care for our students: «I think that the basic ingredient is to genu-
inely care for our students. And that conveys the thought that we must learn about
them. When we really know who they are, we can teach for them, not just for
“everybody”.»—Lily Giraud. Nov 22, 2012.
The next poster shows how to approach the student:

You have to come (down) to the level of the learner, just like a potential cli-
ent, to be able to be effective.—Ewululm N. J. Dec 2, 2012.

Our next quotation underlines the diversity in the classrooms of today and
expresses concerns about the depth of subject knowledge:
K: Knowing Your Students, Caring for Them 45

In the current diverse society, especially in the USA, it is important for a

teacher to have an understanding about the diversity of her/his students and
about the difference in their learning capabilities. Also, teachers should have
a deep knowledge of the subject they teach.—Savita Gautam. Dec 18. 2012.

Lange advocates streaming students:

Too much adult intervention in learning will not help those that are self
motivated. Homework is not outdated (it can be group-based work as well)
but perhaps different children could be taught via different methods. So
let’s tune the teaching to match the need—holistic was the word, as some-
one here put it. There (needs to be a) curriculum for different learning
types. That would perhaps require pre-testing the children to map out their
strengths and wishes. After mapping they would be divided into groups that
suit them best. Those that need more help are grouped, as are those that can
work mainly by themselves. Other grouping systems could be used as well.
The key is to identify the strengths and the type of a child. Social activi-
ties (extra-curricular or adapted) would then serve as group learning and in
individual growth. Perhaps this could also reduce the interference caused by
dysfunctional group behaviour in modern classrooms. … So the skills that
are needed are capability for smart information retrieval (e.g., key word
search) from social media, ability to combine modern learning tools in the
classroom environment (usually this requires some funding though), and
boldness to try out new methods (self-motivation for teaching is highly rec-
ommended to prevent burn-out).—Carl Lange. Dec 13, 2012.

A few posters turned attention to the nature of the guidance provided to

The teacher is a gentle, but firm coach:
«As a coach, the teacher has to orient all students so that their individual expectations of
what they are capable of are fulfilled by their own work. Students should further be chal-
lenged through the next, new work according to their natural internal resources, their per-
sonality and their own desire for achievement.»—Dorin Isoc. Dec 19 2012.
Remember too that «the student is a living and (rational) being.»—Dorin Isoc. Dec 26
«Without doubt, the teacher should create a congenial environment in the lecture
hall or in the laboratory, strengthening the teacher–taught relationship. This would cer-
tainly attract more students. All concerned should display congeniality to improve the
teaching.»—Sanjay Mishra. Jan 4, 2013.
46 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

The next day he continues:

«The strategy of the teacher should be one of caring according to the standard of the class
and student. The teacher should be flexible enough in dealing with the students to run the
class/lecture/laboratory smoothly, thereby providing a strong base and further path to pol-
ish (“sunshine”) their credentials.»—Sanjay Mishra. Jan 5, 2013.

The need for humanity is emphasised by another poster.

When we discuss the role of education and how the paradigm needs some alteration,
… we (must) still consider the essential allowance for personal growth and the human
­element—there will always be the human classroom teacher who meets the student.
—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 10, 2012.

He later paints a cynical view of the hyper-efficient production-line model for


OK, no curriculum, and while we are at it, seriously, let’s throw out home-
work. The immediacy of the digital classroom undermines the Industrial Age
“efficiency” element of a static, blow-by-blow plan that defines the work-
er’s place and the product’s place along the assembly line at any given time;
also, homework is the element of pedagogical activity that is out-of-context.
… There has to be a human facilitator, mentor, guide, at the point in the pro-
cess where the student must reflect and express subjectivity, and this point
cannot be rushed or ignored.
The best teacher is “with” the student at every crucial step in the learning
process, sharing in the learning and the teaching. As inefficient as it has been
made to seem, human context for learning cannot be avoided. Games (too)
have their place, but let’s not make the same mistake with video games that
was made with television, which was turned into a “babysitter”.—Jonathan
Edwards. Dec 13, 2012.

While the posters desire to know students, and care for their needs is para-
mount, we ask what kind of knowing is needed and how is it acquired and used
productively? Powell and Kusuma-Powell (2011, ASCD) discuss some of these
challenges in their chapter entitled “Knowing our students as learners”. They pre-
sent five dimensions of learner identity:
Biological Traits
Cultural and Societal Factors
Emotional and Social Influences
Learning Preferences
Academic Performance.
Today, research and experience in the increasingly global classrooms are r­ evealing
the interplay of factors that influence students’ learning. Educators understand that
the complex business of coming to know our students as learners is simply too
K: Knowing Your Students, Caring for Them 47

important to leave to chance—and that the peril of not undertaking this inquiry is
in not reaching out to students at all.

L: Learning to Learn with Curiosity/Lifelong Learning

Many of our posters selected teaching or research as their profession because of

their thirst for learning. It is their desire to inspire curiosity and a longing for greater
knowledge in their students as the posts in this section will indicate. The Australian
Council of Deans of Education provides a more pragmatic reason for students to
engage in lifelong learning. They explain that lifelong learning means that educa-
tion is no longer located at a single time in your life, your one chance to learn, a
time when you learn things that are sufficient for life. Specific skills and knowledge
learnt today may be obsolete in twenty years time or even five years time, and we
will increasingly need to retrain and relearn throughout life (ACDE 2001).
While we can teach students the skills of learning, we cannot make them learn.
The posters below understand this and embrace their role as educators in a far
larger package than mere skill building. They believe their role is also to encour-
age curiosity, to challenge, to be playful, adventurous, to let students actively par-
ticipate, discover, share, and unlearn to relearn…
We deal now with the development of a lifelong self-learning capability.
A general skill that is needed is the ability to «learn to learn (or teach to learn
to learn).»—Rey Segundo Guerrero-Proenza. Nov 15, 2012. The way to develop
this is to encourage curiosity.

L1. Curiosity for Knowledge

Teachers should inculcate a love for knowledge, triggered by curiosity.

«There is a challenge that must be faced to prepare people for life. Humans fail internally
to adapt to any external changes. So, instead of teaching technical expertise, we need peo-
ple who are interested in continuous learning, continuous development and who enjoy
knowledge and innovation, and who are always curious to discover better life choices.
These are people who show a smiling face to new challenges, which motivate them.»
—Juan Antonio López Benedí. Nov 20, 2012.

A friend and I recently did a presentation on some research we’re doing

comparing teachers’ and students’ use of new media, which posed the inevi-
table question of how to deal with the gap between the two. In conclusion,
I rejected the idea that the solution was to train teachers in new skills and
ended, “Perhaps the best we can do is try to stimulate a culture of curios-
ity.” That sums it up for me—skills may be important, but in a world where
skills rapidly become either obsolete or commonplace, attitudes are more
48 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

important. If you have a curious, playful, adventurous attitude, you’ll pick

up the skills you need.—Robin Turner. Nov 19, 2012.

Our next poster emphasises the need for stimulating the students: «Teachers
need to adapt to the group and disciplines, and not only focus on the content and
knowledge. They need to motivate their students with different approaches, some
not technical. They need not be afraid of trying new methods, and make students
reflect upon their future work and world. It is only fair that you should get feed-
back and reflect first. Creativity and innovation, self evaluation and learning have
to be stimulated, so the students can work it out no matter what comes ahead.»—
Carola Bruna. Nov 20, 2012.
Curiosity is driven by questioning: «The students can develop the art of ask-
ing questions, which in my opinion is more important than thinking.»—Francisco
Cua. Nov 21, 2012.
Develop students’ thirst for knowledge. Teach them to how to question criti-
cally and deeply.

L2. Lifelong Learning

Students will no longer have one occupation and one job title for the whole of
their lives. Jobs will no longer remain static, and required skills will change.
Teachers and students must commit themselves to the difficult but rewarding task
of learning for the rest of their lives:

I don’t think teachers in my country, Brazil, are being prepared for the
unknown future. At this time they are worried (about) surviving (doing)
more than one job, long hours of preparation and correction. (There is a)
lack of motivation for studying and … difficulties in applying for a Master
and Doctorate course. In Brazil it is difficult and expensive to apply for such
courses. And as teachers, we know how important it is to keep on studying
in a lifelong education.—Maria Olavia Santos Monteiro. Nov 28, 2012.

Students will learn informally as well as formally:

Teaching is no longer about the traditional approach of content delivery. It is

about inspiring and motivating your students to want to know more, and (sup-
porting) them with the skills to do so. Modern day educators need to sup-
port the development of skills (for) self-regulated learning so that students
(can) apply these to ongoing professional development and learning beyond
the formal classroom. Self-regulated learning processes can be built into the
L: Learning to Learn with Curiosity … 49

curriculum structure for greatest impact so that they are contextually bound and
relevant to learning. By developing skills in identifying gaps in knowledge, set-
ting achievable learning goals and monitoring learning through to goal achieve-
ment, students will enter the workforce with the necessary skill-set to continue
on their lifelong learning journey.—Lisa Thomas. Nov 28, 2012.

Trying to do research to validate the new paradigm is not easy and one poster
feels very lonely:

The learning dynamic is quite unique, and I have been lurking on other
RG discussion threads to try and develop a way of defining what occurs.
Educational research of a new paradigm is not simple, since (the concept
has) both traditional and non-traditional roots—I have not been able to put
them all together yet. I have no source of validation outside my own experi-
ence, no real colleagues.—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 4, 2012.

Later he reveals that he is investigating the process as part of his own lifelong

I have … posed a question …: “What is the nature of ‘discovery’?” The

responses from thoughtful, informed researchers have been revelations on
many levels, and remain guides to my thinking in education and my profes-
sional practice.—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 14, 2012.

A poster confirms that asking questions is an art that can be taught:

the right answer is to encourage the student to learn to ask and to be an

active actor for his education.—Dorin Isoc. Dec 20, 2012.

Part of the lifelong learning of teachers is to be learning with the students:

I teach English and French. I love studying and learning. In fact, I study
English and French “with” my pupils! Sometimes one of them thanks me for
making it possible to feel that power.—Crisaidi Bento Sodré. Dec 21, 2012.
50 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

The lifelong learner needs to be flexible, and requires reprogramming:

Today’s teacher has to be more dynamic and more versatile. He must be

agile enough to update his knowledge and information. The flexibility that
is needed now was never known ever before. With the emerging trends
and changing circumstances, today’s teacher is faced with an uphill task.
However, it’s (a) matter of attitude. This should be kept in mind that learn-
ing is not for ever. Sometimes you have unlearn what you have learned
before, particularly in view of the new realities and new discoveries that
are taking place so rapidly. Learning, unlearning and relearning are the
processes that have to be followed to keep up with the modern ways of
teaching.—Muhammad Iqbal. Dec 23, 2012.

A key to lifelong learning is never to give up researching. «I appreciate your

theory and methodology in reference to up-grading and excellence in the area of
“Teaching”. I would like to start following your philosophy. Further, I strongly
recommend a coordination between teaching and research in relevant areas to
uplift the standard of teaching of students and scholars.»—Sanjay Mishra. Dec
25, 2012.
Cua outlines four steps in simple research:

Students should learn not to be fed. They have to engage actively with their
peers to navigate their learning. Thus, four words are crucial in their learn-
ing—explore, create, understand, and share. What (has been) said about
learning, by doing what professionals in their fields actually do, (is) what I
call authentic education, through apprenticeship. Sad to say, the professional
(licensing) examination uses multiple choice (questions). Underdevelop(ed)
countries copy from the big brother (United States) perceiving that (to be the)
norm. Probably, it is a norm, but a bad one.—Francisco Cua. Dec 28, 2012.

Teachers should become experts of their domain:

I think that Google will never replace a teacher. Previously here in Brazil
teachers were called masters. I think in many (other) places too. Maybe it’s
time to redeem the broadest sense of the word master and its function in our
society.—Sérgio Silva. Jan 3, 2013.
L: Learning to Learn with Curiosity … 51

With lifelong learning, the responsibility for learning shifts to the student:

(We) are right about empowering students to hold “themselves the responsi-
bility to choose their educational path.” … (We) are right too that the teacher
should no longer play the role of transmitter of knowledge. … I believe that
teaching and learning should prioritise (1) development of skills, which is
then a means to (2) the acquisition of knowledge. For example, we teach
(or we motivate) students how to do critical thinking and empower them
to choose the context that fits their needs. Developing their thinking skills
and judgement –empowering them to choose the context and be responsible
for the choice– becomes a means to learning knowledge.—Francisco Cua.
Jan 6, 2013.

Blanco tells us simply how to assess whether teachers have done their job:

If you can instill self-teaching and lifetime learning in your students, you
have done your job!—Mario Blanco. Jan 6, 2013.

Since the real world does not require the solving of clean textbook questions,
lifelong learners need to be able to solve poorly-defined problems:

“Self-teaching and lifetime learning” are important and complementary.

Lifelong learning may seem to be a trait to learn continuously for life.
To inculcate students to be lifelong learners, they have to learn to solve
“real” (authentic) problems, where there is no perfect solution. We call this
(an) ill-defined problem.—Francisco Cua. Jan 7, 2013.

Students should research to satisfy their learning needs:

One of the skills of the teacher of the 21st century will be to help students
discover the systematized knowledge and propel them to use those skills,
organizing and directing learning situations involving students and articulat-
ing around learning processes.—Sérgio Silva. Jan 15 2013.
52 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Learning is a complex, lifelong pursuit and should not be made comfortable

by us as educators. By disturbing the often narrow limits of our uniquely different
students’ world views, we offer-up engaging challenges to learn. It also provides
support to keep the unlearning and relearning dynamic for rapidly changing times.

M: Metacognitive Skills

In the 21st century learners need to be highly conscious of their problem-solving

activities in order to transform them to other challenging situations. Scardamalia
and Bereiter (2006) advocate a pedagogy of knowledge building whereby teach-
ers assist students in developing and practising the needed skills that allow them
to not only learn the existing knowledge of their discipline, but also to advance
that knowledge. Metacognition is a means towards knowledge building whereby
students use reflection to think about their thinking. Metacognitive skills can cre-
ate higher levels of problem-solving abilities and provide a means for students to
self-regulate their learning.
The posters share the importance of metacognition and offer ways that meta-
cognitive skills can be imparted. The following poster discusses its importance in
«I always thought that metacognition was the key. That is, not to give information but to
teach how to use that information.»—Alma Dzib Goodin. Nov 16, 2012.

While not mentioning meta-cognition, our next poster is cynical about some of
the processes we encounter that inhibit metacognitive thought.
«Schooling is done to make brains the same;
Training is done to install procedures in people;
Teaching and learning is merely a transfer of information, that can best be done using
the Web and not using teachers;
However educating is the transfer between people of the responsibility for build-
ing and repairing a world, which sadly is mainly not done in schools and colleges. As a
result, our world mainly contains adults who did not get educated: they only got trained or
informed/taught.»—Richard Greene. Nov 16, 2012.

Our final poster points out a hierarchy « for an understanding:

• I must know
• You must know
• I must know that you know
• You must know that I know
• I must know that you know that I know
• You must know that I know that you know
• We must each know that the other knows.»
M: Metacognitive Skills 53

He also shows how meta-cognitive skills may be practically taught:

«A useful exercise for the classroom to be involved in is learning about questioning itself:
what makes a good question, and teaching students to construct knowledge from their
own frame of reference. This would imply that “teaching” should amount to structur-
ing a suitable environment for students to practise their meta-cognitive skills.»—William
Jackson. Dec 21, 2012.

Students need to be taught how to own and belong to their learning rather than
replicating what is taught by others. With metacognitive skills, students can decide
how best to meet the challenges they face in the future, what tools or systems they
might use and who they might draw upon for assistance. These skills of metacog-
nition should be taught and practised when our students are young and continue to
be built upon throughout their lives (Gardner 1991).

N: Non-invasive Education

Our students are often eager participants in a number of social networking sites
for a range of purposes. Schrage (2001) argues that digital technologies have pro-
duced a relationship revolution rather than an information revolution. As an exam-
ple, the three authors of this monograph are forging a non-invasive and at times,
personal relationship with one another. We have never met face to face, come from
different backgrounds, disciplines and countries, yet we are finding ways to work
together to bring greater coherence to the responses to the ResearchGate question.
A poster below, Louis Brassard mentions “a hole in the wall”, a TED Talk by
Sugata Mitra. In another talk, Mitra6 discusses the future of learning. His Granny
Cloud project is a move to a non-invasive future for learning. The Granny method
is described as standing behind learners, offering encouragement. In the Granny
Cloud, grannies, grandpas, aunts and uncles are SKYPING with children in India
and Colombia. Mitra feels it is the attitude that matters most, not their knowledge.
These participants are encouraging, nurturing, praising and offering guidance
rather than directing, instructing and examining.
Non-invasive education is the limiting case of minimally invasive education.7
In this education, students learn from each other.
«This initiative “A hole in the wall” is interesting. In the last two years, my wife has
modified her approach being inspired by outdoor learning. “The last child in the woods”
by Richard Louv was her source of inspiration. He emphasises that contact with nature
is important, especially for young children living in an urban environment (and the
Web).»—Louis Brassard. Dec 9, 2012.

6http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberspace. Cyberspace.
7http://rightquestion.org/make-just-one-change/. Make just one change.
54 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Through educationally fuelled global learning networks, with clear and purpose-
ful expectations and outcomes, teachers and students from diverse backgrounds can
come together to learn about one another, build new knowledge and solve problems.
We have considered the case of non-invasive education, which relies very heav-
ily on students learning how to learn from each other and from the world.

O: Outcomes

It is worthwhile to revisit Hélia Jacinto’s original question when discussing out-

comes. She asks: Which skills must 21st century teachers have to promote high
quality learning? Learning outcomes are relatively short term goals which the
successful students will achieve within the course. Developing the intended learn-
ing outcomes requires the teacher and students to be focused on the purposes of
the intended learning. The teacher and students require these developing skills as
much as ever. The skills should be considered in terms of the quality learning they
provide. In this section we concentrate on both the skills required of the teacher,
as well as those required of higher education students. Cua is the notable and quot-
able poster on this thread, who states categorically:

I put the “Intended Learning Outcome” (ILO) as the first task.—Francisco

Cua. Nov 21, 2012.

«By having clear ILOs, the students will benefit by knowing what they are committing
themselves to learn.
A good skill for the teachers is to write a full ILO which includes conditions, the task,
and the performance standards. However, for the novice teacher, simply writing the goal is
good enough.»—Francisco Cua. Nov 21, 2012.

Some of the problems to be solved that are included in the outcomes should
be poorly structured problems, as real-life problems are seldom well structured.
Examples include under- as well as over-specified problems.
«Students in higher education should be exposed to creating their own ILOs. This will
help them to become accountable for their own current and future learning.»—Francisco
Cua. Feb 24, 2013.

He continues:

For students to be fully accountable, the curriculum design must have explicit
learning goals (the intended learning outcomes) together with the explicit
conditions and the explicit performance targets (performance criteria). In
(the) context of higher education, the 1- or 2-page syllabus cannot serve this
purpose. There are other design components that must be incorporated in rad-
ically designing the new curriculum.—Francisco Cua. Feb 24, 2013.
O: Outcomes 55

Cua goes on to explain how mature students can set their own outcomes and
prepare themselves for their future learning:

I firmly believe that education (adult education) should align itself with
how the adult learners can be successful in the future. Thus, adult educa-
tion should develop skills and then facilitate the adult learners to construct
or learn knowledge.—Francisco Cua. Feb 25, 2013.

«Traditionally, we solve problems by:

• understanding the problem;
• reviewing the background of the problem (literature review);
• gathering evidence (this is research);
• exploring alternative courses of action; and then
• Eureka! Coming out with the answers!

Students who work on this format are sometimes more confused thinking about the
problem per se, since there are conditions that complicate the chain of problems.
In practice, I focus on the solutions. So in teaching, I reverse the process by instructing
mature students to:
SHARE the business case of their solution (knowing that there is no business case
unless there is the solution);
CREATE the solution (I call this the implementation plan, which students can start to
work on in outline form);
EXPLORE the background of the problem (the background can be a theoretical review
or empirical operational knowledge);
UNDERSTAND the problem. Throughout the semester, they have these four outcomes
to focus on and to link them with other supporting intended learning outcomes in the
syllabus.»—Francisco Cua. Feb 25, 2013.

Cua recognises that teachers and students must learn to develop intended out-
comes. With 21st century learners in mind, he acknowledges the importance of
placing some of the learning in students’ hands, giving them autonomy to articu-
late what they need to learn next.
When teachers develop outcomes, they need knowledge and skill to make the
outcomes clear but manageable, yet challenging and flexible for diverse learners to
practise over time. These outcomes also need to be made explicit to students. The
intended outcomes must include skills that go well beyond discipline knowledge
to help students become discerning consumers and innovative agents of change in
current and emerging times.
56 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

P: Participatory Learning, Playing

One of the most essential skills that 21st century teachers and students require
is the ability to embrace change. John Seeley Brown argues that people playing
games know how to embrace change because they want to solve the game, bet-
ter their scores or even seek to change the game. In one of his co-authored books,
A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant
change, Thomas and Brown (2011) discuss the importance of play for learning.
We need, they say, makers and tinkerers. While these are skills, they are also
mindsets about how we value play. Sadly, some teachers and students have to be
re-skilled to play; to be encouraged to make messes through trial and error and to
discover the powerful learning acquired by failing at times. The posts below are
expansive and reflect many of Brown’s views. An example of participatory learn-
ing is provided in P1 below.

P1. Participatory Learning

Jackson gives us the simplest example and only example:

Music provides another example: all too often music is “taught” in the classroom. What a
fruitless exercise, “music” (is) without instruments—William Jackson. Dec 9. 2012.

P2. The Playing Field

The next focus is on digital play. The metaphor of a digital sandbox is a metaphor
when referring to playing online games. We know of a sandbox as a container with
sand in it. There are no rules, no tools, no problems to solve, no time limits or
restrictions. All that is created there is in the minds and hearts of the visitors. A dig-
ital sandbox often has all of these elements. Digital games have a set of problems to
solve to win for oneself, for a team or for the larger good. So, games are a valuable
resource in teaching and learning that provide situated and embodied learning.

I have always embraced the concept of the “digital sandbox”, wherein, the
connectivity, the visualization of data, the transfer and manipulation of data,
is brought together in a conceptual space that has plastic qualities that can
be useful for work and for play. Teachers have the unique opportunity to
take advantage of this appealing, malleable force; I believe the “playful”,
experimental qualities are often short-changed for the need to take it all
too seriously, to be efficient, and profitable, rather than considering some-
thing else. Consider that, if computers mirror the human mind, does not the
P: Participatory Learning, Playing 57

human mind develop most rapidly as a result of “play” and from the drive of
“curiosity”?—Jonathan Edwards. Nov 19, 2012.
So, the classroom becomes a playing field, or rather, the place where
problems are engaged (in).—ibid.
I have adopted the idea that the 21st century classroom paradigm should be
a “playing field”, a place of serious games—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 4 2012.

Edwards’ ideas are expanded upon by Cua:

«The concept of education as a “playing field” means that the learning environments at
MACRO (society) level and at MESO level (educational institution or the work place) and
the assessments are not controlled. The students should be introduced to “ill-structured”
problems since like actual playing, the same challenge that arises from the interactions
of the players will not happen again. The problem that students will face is “authentic.”
Students in the class IN THE PLAYING FIELD will not possibly face the same challenge
as the PLAYING continues. This means, that a one-size-fits-all-syllabus is outdated. An
examination designed to test knowledge is also outdated.»—Francisco Cua. Dec 4. 2012.

In turn, Cua’s ideas are clarified by Edwards giving a concrete example: «My

control is based on the design of “the game”, and maintaining its rules. This is
where the educator must be in complete control. To play a game, all must know
and abide by the rules. There is an infinite set of possible outcomes given that the
rules are followed. The nature of educational play, without controls or rules will
also result in an infinite number of outcomes, but most will be useless outcomes.
Follow the process of a typical business or medical school practice scenario.
The outcomes align with observable, assessable outcomes. My model is based on
Monopoly and SimCity, wherein “wealth”, (broadly defined as accumulation of
virtual property and all kinds of skills) is accumulated as role-playing progresses.
My “game board” is the creation of a virtual city. Every student gets a square
city block to develop as they see fit. They are not allowed to instigate crime. To earn
credit (and the main element of my assessment), they must express their engagement
through role-play that is defined by authentic (and authenticated) research. What has
stood out for me over the years that I have run this “game”, is that after a period
of personal avatar development, individuals express a need to generate civic-minded
activity. They then go on to use the role they created as a model for their real-world
career ambitions. I call this processes “virtuality”, but have yet to formally study it
from an objective perspective.»—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 4, 2012.
Changing from the field of economics and management to studying social
behaviour, our next poster gives her approach to using games.
«I use virtual reality in teaching sociology and educational psychology students. My stu-
dents become involved together with children and young participants in the community of
players. My students conduct field research, for example on attitudes and interests of chil-
dren and teenagers. My students can watch the social behaviour in groups as well as the
isolated interpersonal relationships. They can analyse language, dress preferences, norms
and values, etc.»—Renata Stefanska-Klar. Dec 4, 2012.
58 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Edwards next provides more detail:

«I merge two English words together: virtual and reality to describe the dynamic mental
and physical interactivity between what science-fiction author William Gibson called
“cyberspace”,8 and reality. Virtual, visual, mental and physical interactivity is experienced
by people who play role-playing digital games with avatars, and by information workers
who represent data by visuals other than just words and numbers. The role-playing for
college and career was my response to the needs and desires of my students who had had
limited success in an education institution.
My essential question to them is: “What is your heart’s desire?” They cannot instigate
crime, and so they must use their wealth to develop their avatar’s role in the life of the
city. Given what they are bringing to this playing field, and the research that they are moti-
vated to pursue, and the social interactions in the real classroom, the game plays itself—
with my mentoring.
I remind them constantly that nothing exists until they “write it down”, or draw it, or
picture it. They quite naturally begin to build the world they experience around them. I
begin with some suggestions and advice, but my role fades. They are writing their own lit-
erature. They teach each other their roles and express a citizenship that amazes observers.
With the advent of social networking, a new social principle is emerging, ill-defined
as it is, but replacing telecommunication. Proof of this: our own collegiality here on this
forum, which, lacking a better term, is almost a virtuality community—but not fully, since
we are not sharing a full-blown virtual community, with a fire department or a car dealer-
ship, or a park!»—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 5, 2013.

He continues with another example of learning from play:

«There is one more inspiration for me that I have never had the time to study, and have
lost track of. There was (about 30 or more years ago) an experiment carried out by a
major USA university—Univ. of Chicago, I think. The economics department was chal-
lenged that their entry level curriculum was flawed, and needed to be “fixed”. The depart-
ment members put their postulate out that even a sixth grade student (about 13 or 14 years
old) could learn economics by the department’s methods. To prove this, they formed a
class of these students from the local public schools, with the intention of teaching them
the basics of economics. To do so, the university guys created a “virtual amusement park”
and they mentored the students’ building of and operating of this amusement park in real,
authentic time and activity—right down to impact of weather conditions on attendance,
and food costs for all vendors if it rained. Of course, they could only visit a real amuse-
ment park once or twice, if ever, let alone really build one. The students produced charts,
created job descriptions, budgets, profitability studies of rides, etc., and of course, by the
end, someone had the bright idea to make a video game, which became Roller Coaster
The study supported my ideas: that you didn’t need a video game or a one-on-one
interface with a computer, but only the availability of resources to conduct meaningful
research; that you needed a virtual “playing field” that would be appealing to students and
gain their attention. Something was happening (scenarios being proposed and then played
out) with all of the participants’—their imaginations were being harnessed by imaginary
“play”.»—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 6, 2012.

8http://99u.com/articles/7014/the-power-of-uncertainty. The power of uncertainty.

P: Participatory Learning, Playing 59

Play is integral to learning and so to education. This is not news in educa-

tion. But the invention of virtual playing fields for learning in inventing is
just beginning.—Louis Brassard. Dec 7, 2012.

Lange points out teachers do still have some freedom:

Correct me if I am wrong, but curriculum does not exactly dictate how a

teacher is supposed to convey the message. If you want to put some purpose
behind the calculus or arts you are free to do so. Then perhaps the problem
relays (back) to the rigid framework or incapability of a teacher to flex out
of the school books a bit…. There is no better way (than) to restate a prob-
lem than to defragment it and reassemble it with the life situations found
around us.—Carl Lange. Dec 14, 2012.

Grossu sums up why playing games is important:

I hope that children are taught on how to think rather than led to find
answers by imprinting certain patterns. (Playing games) offers surprises
and other opportunities for discovery that are innovative. It is the creation
level that needs to be further develop(ed) rather than a repetitive process.—
Dorina Grossu. Dec 14, 2012.

Next a caution not to get too carried away with play:

“Play” is the … approach to learning that Bill Gates (The Gates Foundation)
has proposed. I would be cautious about using only one approach to learning/
teaching because even games can become boring. Any variety of methods that
promotes understanding seems logical. Any methods that promote the use (of)
knowledge to solve a problem seem appropriate.—David Potter. Dec 9, 2012.

Potter’s caution about using games exclusively is a caution for any singular
teaching approach in the production of knowledge. Education in many countries
appears to have adopted participatory learning with open classrooms, teachers
doing team teaching and students engaged in group and team projects. Yet we
know there will always be highly effective teachers and students who do not teach
and learn best using these approaches. Potter recognises that an informed balanced
60 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

approach for diverse learners is essential where quiet reflection and independent
study are provided and at other times, noisy even chaotic games and group prob-
lem-solving are advanced.

Q: Questions and Question Generating

There is certainly an art to questioning effectively. We believe, as do the posters,

that learning to question is essential. There are countless books, articles and web-
sites on questioning techniques, yet far less attention is paid to ways to actively
listen to the responses provided in order to probe deeper.
Through critical questioning we can help ourselves and our students move
closer to knowing. The posters below focussed on students asking the questions
rather than their teachers. Yet in order for this to occur in meaningful ways, teach-
ers need to skill their students in questioning. So, before guidance is provided,
teachers should be critically examining their own, often ingrained questioning
practices. Too many teachers continue to question students in the same ways they
were taught, well knowing that these practices are ineffective.
Even when involved in other modes of teaching, questioning is still a valuable
«Why not use dialogue as a tool in the classroom? The teacher divides the students into
small teams for dialogue and will sometimes intervene in the dialogue by asking ques-
tions, encouraging certain answers and monitoring the quality of writing.»—Louis
Brassard. Dec 13, 2012.

We also believe sincerely that students should create their own questions to be
answered As the following two posters advocate:

The highest learning achievement is when students learn how to ask their
own questions.—Francisco Cua. Dec 20, 2012.

One very useful and practical skill is to encourage students to ask their own
questions—that is, “to inquire”. This is not a new idea. For an excellent
resource see Rothstein & Santana’s book “Make Just One Change”9
—Jon Mason. Dec 20, 2012.

9http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/efi/philosophy.php. Centre for Research in Educational

Futures and Innovation.

Q: Questions and Question Generating 61

«There are plenty of roles for the teacher to play in guiding students to ask their own
questions. Placing an emphasis upon student questioning doesn’t mean cutting them adrift
and leaving the teacher without anything to do. It’s a useful exercise for the classroom to
be involved in learning about questioning itself—and what makes a good question. There
is some excellent guidance on the Web about the “Question Formulation Technique”. I’m
not suggesting this is the only activity, just one that ought to get more attention. Inquiry-
based learning opens possibilities for students to construct knowledge from their own
frame of reference. It’s not the only way to learn, of course, but it is a great complement
to learning prescribed content.»—Jon Mason. Dec 21, 2012.

In short, 21st century teachers and students should be asking the questions
they do not know the answers to, but have a deep, abiding curiosity in finding out.
They should also ask thought-provoking questions that have no right answer and
encourage discussion around a range of possibilities.

R: R
 egular Upgrading of Course Materials, Reflecting
on Relevance

We never arrive at knowing what to learn and what to teach next. We are always in
transit. The author Henry Miller (1957) said: If we are always arriving and depart-
ing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place
but rather a new way of looking at things. Our belief is that it is the job of teachers
to constantly look at things in new ways.
Each term of teaching requires a new beginning. Critical reflection is an essen-
tial part of our renewal. This need to seek relevance has always been so, yet now
the sheer pace of change catches us breathless. How do we catch the running
train? Should we try to catch it and then get on or go about our business as teach-
ers as though the world wasn’t running out of control, spitting out new media, new
ways of learning, new information, new discoveries, new students who learn in
new ways?
The posters in this section are expressing some of these current challenges and
ways to move forward. Teachers themselves need upgrading, and their course
materials and methods of teaching with technologies need upgrading, based on
their reflections.

R1. Regular Upgrading

Sasikumar Mukundan believes that teachers require regular upgrading (to keep up
e.g., with technology):
62 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

A flood of technologies are coming to influence the field of education—from

the now-familiar “e-learning”, to mobiles, social networking, tablet PCs,
collaborative learning, and the like. This is an area that cannot be ignored,
as we go further. It will influence the teaching-learning process, organisa-
tional practices, assessments, learning resources, and so on. It is an open
problem to decide how much we should “prepare” the teachers for these.
Maybe we should prepare them to “absorb and own” new developments, as
they come—a continual upgrading of themselves on a very regular basis.
—Sasikumar Mukundan. Nov 18, 2012.

Regular upgrading of courses is also assumed to be the norm.

R2. Reflection

Anijovich believes that teachers should reflect on their practice. «Teachers need to

learn to think in different ways. They need to learn to reflect about their practices
and become autonomous.»—Rebeca Anijovich. Nov 29, 2012.
Edwards believes that teachers should reflect and publish:

Up to this point, I have been independent of any support, other than my

steady employment as a classroom teacher, and professional development
afforded by my employer school district in the course of my working life.
(There is) no real reason or support to publish, since, whenever I bring it
up, the only ones who care are my students, and the implied support of
my administrators. I am preparing to compile my work, and this forum on
ResearchGate is a part of that preparation—reflection, validation, and feed-
back from educational professionals.—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 5, 2012.

In summary, «Teachers should reflect deeply on the subjects they are teaching

and prepare their lesson plans well.»—Supawit Sungsutthipong. Dec 28, 2012.
This requires reflection, research and upgrading.
Critical reflection is required to make choices as to what to renew, how to alter
existing modes of learning, what to keep and what to let go, deciding when and
how information is offered.
One of our posters, Edwards, (Dec 5, 2012) is using ResearchGate as part of
his preparation for renewal. This was our vision for compiling this monograph.
The challenges that teachers face such as time constraints, compliance issues, a
R: Regular Upgrading of Course Materials … 63

teaching team with differing beliefs, and fear are all real and need to be addressed.
The voices of other teacher/researchers, who are also facing these challenges and
ways to address them, help us to hold onto and strengthen our beliefs and better
our teaching for 21st century learners.

R3. A Delightful Tale

We now provide an unedited tale, leaving in the accent:

“Eureka. After days of reading, I found a minor massage (stet) in a text writ-
ten by Skinner. In paraphrasing the text is this: An unintended behaviour,
unintentionally can be diluted unless it is turned off in voluntary behaviour,
one intentionally.
What beautiful text!
We arrived at school, in class. Students began to sway. Then I said firmly. We
rocked together. I count one, two, one, two, you will swing as I will guide you.
One, two, one, two, your swing will swing. So I worked every time students
in this spontaneous involuntary movements.
The school principal was an interesting character was totally out of peda-
gogy. Moreover, he used to look through the keyhole of the door to see what
was done in the classroom.
So did me. Soon the school principal called me into his birolu. [Бюpo  = 
Dear Comrade teacher! What are you doing in classroom. You are forcing
students to swing. This is impossible. You teach them to swing! All swing-
ing. You force them to swing.
Are you kidding State children. If you do so, I report you to the regional
One day, during exercise the swing, one of the children says Comrade
teacher, why should we swing, why swing?
Good question, I said. Please ask this question, colleagues.
So, gradually, my students have ceased to wave.
I learned later that this approach is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The teacher is always a learner. Think, try, think. Paradigm Education—
Reflection—Development should be placed in the centre for teacher profes-
sional career.”—Vasile Chis. Jan 23, 2013.
64 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

S: Skills in Social and Work-Related Networks

Teachers and students must learn strategies for how to moderate online net-
works, how to deepen the responses made, resolve tensions, deal with lack of or
dominance in participation, as well dealing with failures in the technology itself.
Teachers and students are often members of several social networks outside of
educational pursuits each of which has its own unique forms of discourse (often
highly informal and chatty). Therefore, they need to learn to adapt to a more for-
mal language with fewer abbreviations and acronyms when communicating with
people they are meeting for the first time or with people who may not have the
same first language. To keep social and work related network sites sustainable,
teachers should generate and facilitate communities of practice that are profes-
sional, authentic and most importantly, meaningful. The posters below offer many
worthwhile approaches and ideas inviting further discussion.
As 21st century teachers we have to think globally as we teach locally. In the
past decade, the rise of social and educational networks like ResearchGate has
provided us with the means to connect with others, to harness greater knowledge,
share ideas and collaborate. The posters below discuss the varied skills required to
use social networks effectively with new media. One of the authors of this mono-
graph (Gloria Latham) learned a great deal about the communication skills that
students require when she created a social network site (Latham and Peters 2001).
In the site, graduate students and professors in Educational Psychology at the
University of Tennessee in the United States joined graduate students and profes-
sors at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia. Also joining these groups were
visiting scholars in the field of social construction and collaborative learning from
Oxford University, Swathmore College and The University of New Hampshire.
The students in each university also met face to face in their respective classrooms
to read the works of these scholars, raise questions, discuss, learn and discover.
Some of the communication skills she found that the graduate students needed
were: Learning how to invite and further a response, writing clearly, professionally
and jargon free, being respectful and considerate about opinions that differ from
one’s own, finding ways to not get lost in the tangled threads, and stopping from
time to time to reread and reflect on prior posts before responding.
«The skills need to promotion for teachers are many and varied, but meta-cognitive strate-
gies, self-regulative skills and self-directed learning in a virtual world is now necessary
for teachers.»—Yahya Safari. Nov 15, 2012.

We would add the need for the teacher to participate in the world-wide commu-
nity. Our poster, Cua, reflects on the social skills needed for collaboration in the
21st century:
«In many countries, the traditional teaching and learning have been deeply embedded in
expectations, beliefs, and cultures. Then, there is the emphasis on individual excellence.
This breeds cheating, arrogance, and selfishness. Tasks in the 21st century are likely to
be complex tasks that one person cannot execute alone. These tasks require collaboration
and team work. To develop students for team work, assessments would be on collaborative
tasks.»—Francisco Cua. Jan 15, 2013.
S: Skills in Social and Work-Related Networks 65

Silva even questions whether we will continue to use the word school:
«And above all, what social functions will be determined for school? (or education, as
I do not know if it will be the school itself as we know it today). The school (educa-
tion) is not just about knowledge and information, but a number of other functions that are
assigned socially too.»—Sérgio Silva. Jan 15. 2013.

As Papert (1999) noted, as we get further into the 21st century it is critical to
shift from learners engaging with institutional procedures to the institution engag-
ing with the learner. This will mean becoming skilled in the new technologies,
engaging in more project-based work and viewing students as teachers.
For the teacher, networking also includes «participation in professional
networks»—Issam Sinjab. Dec 21, 2012.

I have found inter-personal communication important. Communication skills

are still critical whether using advanced technologies or not. … Cultural
diversity in Universities requires that the teacher learns how to deal with dif-
ferent students from different countries with different upbringing.—Eddy
Tukamushaba. Nov 22, 2012.

Our next poster concurs. «Inter-personal and communication skills are essential. That
is why an authority picks four elements for the assessment of teaching and learning,
namely: explore, create, understand –at least the contents– and share. This last “share” ele-
ment requires interpersonal and communication skills.»—Francisco Cua. Nov 22, 2012.

I think that in this day and age when too close and too frequent use of infor-
mation technology often results in decreased empathy, bonding and deficits
in interpersonal skills, particularly important to the teacher should be to
develop in students the sphere of social relations, understanding others, and
friendly interaction with others in the performance of tasks, as well as in pri-
vate life and social life.—Renata Stefanska-Klar. Nov 30, 2012.

«The process of a student development should start at an early age. Systems and meth-
ods have been developed on how a child’s progress in school should be monitored. These
methods are intended to help future students to find their field of interest and their future
There are also ways in every field to select the proper employees, which requires more
than a usual degree in one special field of work. The selection process is important for
creating a professional workforce.
As long as the education system and the teacher selection criteria systems work prop-
erly, we can hope to have interested students that will follow classes, study their preferred
field of studies and who will be taught by a proper teacher.
66 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

It is not just the skills that teachers must have that have an effect on the student, but
there are other factors, such as the students’ level of motivation to study certain subjects,
their personal opinions about certain teachers (preferred characteristics, tone of voice, atti-
tude), the current economic status of the country they are in (the possibility of getting
employment, making progress, opening a new business etc.), their mentality and many
more relevant factors.
Thus, it is a vicious cycle. There are many variables and factors that need to be taken
into consideration. Some of the most important skills in my opinion (not in any particu-
lar order) are: Proper education and experience in the field of teaching (which is not a
skill but a crucial element that is not taken in consideration in some countries); tradi-
tional social skills and interpersonal skills as well as learning, speaking and writing skills,
the ability to recognise a student’s limits, boundaries and interests, E-skills, innovation
(in terms of developing and creating new courses and ways of teaching), etc.»—Ljubica
Stefanovska Ceravolo. Nov 30, 2012.

We close this section with a quote and a paraphrase that emphasise the need for
a balance between humanity and happiness:

So, I think that often the social function of the school has been (a) fairly
restricted view favouring only the process of teaching and learning in a very
technical and limited sense of an educational process that should be espe-
cially human (which privileges the human) and social (socially produced
from the relationship with others).—Sérgio Silva. Jan 3, 2013.

«We need to avoid schools from being only the domain of some teachers. We need teach-
ing technologies; technologies that are “free of teacher” (i.e., ones that work indepen-
dently of the teacher). We also need “social mechanisms” where students have the chance
to be motivated to get their interest going, as well as get their necessary education so that
they will be able to be useful for the society and happy as human beings.»—Dorin Isoc.
Jan 6, 2013.

It is challenging (and some may say impossible) to develop skills for an

unknown future: an uncharted landscape of daily life and work. Yet as educators,
we must find a way forward. We are comforted in knowing that we are not alone.
Through networking with important others across the globe, in an infinite num-
ber of spaces and within communities of practice, we are able to solve problems
together. Lankshear and Knobel (2011) suggest the need to view our students’
lives as trajectories. The social practices that they take part in should be contex-
tualised and supported with encouragement and then hopefully, our students will
become the builders of new social practices.
T: Thinking: Critically and Creatively, Logical … 67

 : Thinking: Critically and Creatively, Logical Minds

and Problem Solving

Just as we cannot effectively teach reading without being an active and engaged
reader, we can’t teach critical and creative thinking if we are not ourselves critical
and creative thinkers. Therefore, we need to examine and build on our own skills
as thinkers rather than believe we can merely adopt a mantra and then impose an
approach we find with steps to teach critical and creative thinking.
Thinking in order to problem-solve is not something that should be taught as a
discrete isolated skill. Rather, it is a way of approaching all aspects of learning. It
is in the everydayness of teaching that we pose thinking challenges for ourselves
and for our students. For instance, ask: each of our hands contains 27 bones, if the
2 phalanges in the thumb are broken, how would our daily tasks be affected?
Our first poster under this heading reminds us of the need to «develop crea-
tive reasoning, strategic thinking, and critical thinking in our students.»—Carlos
Queiroz. Jan 1, 2013.
In particular, Mathematics and Boolean Logic should be in the syllabus. «To
reach sufficiency one must also have logical, system thinking to allow the fruits of
the imagination to create reality. While Mathematics is part of this, what is taught
in many curricula is not sufficient for the jobs of tomorrow (or even the jobs of
today!) For instance in California, although the State is a world-leader in technol-
ogy, the education system doesn’t even include the binary system or Boolean alge-
bra in its standards for curricula! Nations who expand Mathematics and Science
under a more generalised discipline of “General Systems Theory” will likely be
those who will be the competitors of tomorrow, provided that it is presented in a
way that isn’t too abstract to understand.»—Jacob Walker. Dec 18, 2012.
«It is important that teachers ensure that students are given strong exposures to creativity
via the Art class as well as the Mathematics class, to learn the problem-solving process.
With this background, both creative and science courses at the tertiary level will be more
productive. The problem solving process, because it is discovery oriented, is not limited
by the knowledge of the teacher. The students will discover and create unprecedented new
horizons.»—Chris Ifeta. Dec 26, 2012.

Students need to «have the ability first, to find information, to select from it and
use it in creative ways to solve a particular problem.»—Sérgio Silva. Jan 15 2013.
Elsewhere he has expanded: The students need to obtain the «skills (tools) to work
with knowledge, research it, understand it, relate to it, make a value judgement,
criticise it and share their discoveries with others.»—Sérgio Silva. Jan 6, 2013.
A «formal education for an engineering student was certainly framed this way:
theory, problems, practice in the laboratory and it worked well. You learn the the-
ory, which is mostly expressed in mathematical models and you integrate it, really
understand it by using it for solving problems.»—Louis Brassard. Jan 15, 2013.
Our 21st century students are often multi-taskers who lead hectic, fast-paced
lives of study, work and leisure. We have all had students who have learned how
to find information quickly and often uncritically and then cut and paste this
68 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

information into their vacuous assignments. Yet these students have satisfied the
criteria. While this may be a creative exercise on their part, it requires little think-
ing. We need to devise assessments with criteria that challenge students to think
critically; to go beyond the information they are directed to read or the information
they find and then to defend their choices and the positions they take.

U: Uncertainty, Diachronic Teaching

Uncertainty isn’t a 21st century phenomenon but always a factor in the lives of
teachers. Yet as Barnett (2004) indicates below, there may be more urgency sur-
rounding it now and into the future. A plethora of books and articles have been
written on the power of uncertainty and the skills needed to cope with the
unknown. The posts below express less of the power of uncertainty and more about
our ability to cope. Mathers, Glei and Belsky10 believe that there is a strong need in
creative problem-solving to work with ambiguity. In doing so, we explore the full
range of possibilities. The authors share poet John Keats’ view of the importance of
uncertainty in problem-solving and our need to be comfortable with discomfort.
Keats praised Shakespeare for this trait, which he called “negative capability”.
As Keats (Wolfson 2001) defines it, negative capability “is when man is capable
of being in uncertainties, mysteries, [and] doubts without any irritable reaching
after fact and reason.” In short, we must feel comfortable moving forward without
always knowing exactly where we are headed.
«A terrific read on this topic is: Barnett (2004): Learning for an unknown future, Higher
Education. Research & Development, 31:1, 65–77»—Debra Sheets. Dec 19, 2012.

What is it to learn for an unknown future? It might be said that the future has
always been unknown but our opening question surely takes on a new pedagogi-
cal challenge if not urgency in the contemporary age. Indeed, it could be said that
our opening question has never been generally acknowledged to be a significant
motivating curricular and pedagogical question in higher education. Be all this as
it may, the question (What is it to learn for an unknown future?) surely deserves
more attention than it has so far received. After all, if the future is unknown, what
kind of learning is appropriate for it?
There is terrible uncertainty in whether a job will exist in the 21st century and
what new jobs the new century will introduce. There is uncertainty about what
skills are needed for the jobs that will exist, and great uncertainty as to what skills
the new jobs will require. Even to try to prepare a list of skills that will be needed
is difficult. We fear that even our set of posters may not be prescient enough to
identify such new skills. How to teach for many times (diachronic teaching) is per-
haps the biggest subquestion.


How Computer Games Help Children Learn: An Interview with David Williamson Shafffer.
U: Uncertainty, Diachronic Teaching 69

U1. Uncertain Identities

The posters share feelings of excitement and fear at the rapid pace of change, and
the uncertainty in the unknown. These posters know that 21st century teaching
and the skills needed must change. Yet, swept up in the wave of new technologies,
some of their former identities are being shaken to the core as new identities are
being adopted or forced upon them.
Interestingly, the literature is abundant with studies of pre-service teach-
ers changing identity yet there is a scarcity of literature on experienced teach-
ers facing current identity issues. Moore (2004) studied the changing discourses
of what constitutes the “good teacher”, which was not explicitly debated in this
forum. However, it was clear from the posts that the contributors want the authori-
tative voices of teachers to be heard and recognised. Rather than following a set
of imposed standards, the posts indicate the need for a difference in how quality
learning is achieved.

The challenge remains that the world is changing very fast in such a way
that the teacher is unable to predict the kind of skills (needed) tomorrow.
The old bureaucratic era is being destroyed and “The culture of the new
capitalism” as Richard Sennett calls (it) has taken over. The unpredictability
of the world tomorrow has made the teaching profession more challenging
than ever. Bureaucracy has always made it possible to have institutionalised
objectives and outcomes. Today’s fast changing world has created a situation
whereby if things are to move in the right direction, people must embrace a
new paradigm, which will also change in (a) short time. This is (the) chal-
lenge that teachers have today.—Katusiime Denis. Nov 28, 2012.

«In particular students should acquire the proper tools to confront and analyse uncer-
tainties. As the development of history is non-linear, and non-deterministic, we should
teach our students how to expect, how to handle the unexpected. Because, by definition,
the new is not predicted.»—Frederic Briand. Nov 22, 2012.

However, when you say that teachers have to prepare students for a world
that is unknown (surely “totally” goes too far), then you are not talk-
ing about learning but rather about personal maturation. Every student has
always gone out into an unknown world and had to create their own life.
—Warren Kinston. Nov 29, 2012.

So we need to instill «confidence in students so that they feel they can cope

with whatever changing circumstances» they may encounter.—Smita Goorah. Nov
30, 2012.
70 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

Our next poster, Potter, takes a stab at predicting the future, but future historians
may find he was too conservative.

Higher education will exist only to house those contributing to MOOCs,

iTunes U, etc.—David Potter. Dec 6, 2012.

Professionalism will conquer all difficult educational systems and syllabi:

«We will cope as we always coped—we close the classroom door, trust in our spirit of
professionalism, and work with the kids for their success, despite what “they” (the people
upstairs) may throw at us.»—Jonathan Edwards. Dec 6, 2012.

Are we to make identical, cloned robots to serve on the production lines of the
21st century? A deep thought, worthy of deep discussion and action is posted by

The meaning of “fitness” is not efficiency; it is the ability to adapt (resil-

ience). This raises the question: In education, should we curb or promote
individual growth and diversity?—William Jackson. Dec 10, 2012.

U2. Diachronic Teaching

«The fundamental corpus of knowledge should be presented in a diachronic

perspective.»—Carlos Queiroz. Dec 16, 2012.
We need to use our imagination and inculcate imagination.

Within the context of what will be needed for innovative jobs that don’t exist
as yet, we can learn much from trends from jobs that now do exist but previ-
ously didn’t. Innovation is generally ignored at first because it doesn’t fit the
current paradigms. But in today’s Global Village, to use McLuhan’s apropos
term, it is more important that a nation is not “mind-locked” more than it
is that they are not land-locked, or to quote Einstein “Imagination is more
important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination
embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
Although one must not conclude that imagination on its own is sufficient, to
look at the Theory of Constraints, imagination is necessary but not sufficient
for the 21st century.—Jacob Walker. Dec 18, 2012.
U: Uncertainty, Diachronic Teaching 71

«Every living organism has to undergo the process of evolution. Ultimately it is the fittest
which is going to survive. So, one has to teach the skills for survival in this highly com-
petitive world. One has to adapt to the situation, react coolly and meet the challenges.»
—Ramarao Poduri. Dec 18, 2012.

The most difficult thing is to accept a change. Normally, we stick to what

we have done or what we are doing. Those who change themselves with the
changing conditions will be successful in this dynamic age.—Muhammad
Iqbal. Dec 23, 2012.

«The starting point is the fast-paced change in knowledge building, acquisition, dis-
semination and obsolescence. Sadly, as Sir Ken Robinson says, presently we are educat-
ing the creativity out of the minds of the students.
Preparing them for applying their knowledge 18 to 20 years hence is an arduous task
as the changes gives us no clue to where we will be at that point of time. Therefore much
of education will continue to be gradual and continually increasing. In India we are con-
tinuing with Lord Macauley’s version of the teaching-learning process. Innovative schools
and colleges are generally in the private sector with a few exceptions in the public sec-
tor. Teaching students to question, think, write, innovate, simulate and imagine (to day
dream!) is what brings in creativity.»—Kulwant Sharma. Dec 21, 2012.

How to approach the big problem of preparing students for a world that
(does) not exist yet? Making them feel part of this problem: i.e., making
them responsible for their and their colleagues learning.—Sofia Chirica. Dec
26, 2012.

In her centre for Educational Research and Innovation for educational futures,
Jill Blackmore’s overriding research question11 below appears to be the quest we
are all on to deal with the rapidity of change and also to re-imagine possible
“How can educators develop in their students, themselves and their learning environ-
ments, capacities that will allow them to (re)conceptualise, (re)imagine and (re)design for
a range of possible futures?”


of_traditional_schools_education_can_be_simple. What will it take to consider that the complex trans-

formation of traditional schools & education can be simple?
72 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

V: Verification or How Do We Know Students

Are Learning?

Providing assessment is a vital part of our role as teachers. The posters understand
that we are increasingly accountable for students’ learning and need to be able
to defend by showing evidence that learning has taken place. The Latin word for
assessment is assidere meaning to sit beside. This original meaning of the term is
more in keeping with a Constructivist view of the guide at the side, advocated by
many in this forum.
Latham et al. (2011) use the Serafini (2000/01) definition: “That assess-
ment is an inquiry based process teachers use in order to make informed deci-
sions about teaching and learning” (p. 309). However, it is not only teachers who
need to assess for learning but also students as self assessors and students as peer
We use the word verification as shorthand for checking that this student has
actually learned the skills that we require. This is also known as validating learn-
ing, or simply assessment.

A self assessment would only be helpful with the aid of a 360 degree feed-
back… wherein the students provide a feedback on the teacher and the
method of teaching. Based on that, a teacher can improve on the methods
and manner of teaching.—Manan Desai. Nov 19, 2012.
A “thinking classroom” is my vision of an ideal classroom, where aspects of
life-long learning are emphasised and modelled by the teacher himself/her-
self. Critical thinking and creative thinking must rule the classroom with the
firm support of the teacher and the education system. That is, assessments
must be able to reflect these thinking processes.—Poster deleted. Nov 20,

That poster then hints vaguely that analysis of a poem can be used to test stu-
dents’ abilities to think critically and creatively. For example, you can ask the stu-
dent: “Was Robert Frost being morbid, or is he simply admiring beauty?”
If students know that the skill is going to be assessed, then the students who
want to pass will make sure that they conquer them. Cua gives examples: «The
education authority should for example pick four crucial elements to assess the
teaching and learning. These are: Can the student explore, create, understand, and
share?»—Francisco Cua. Nov 22, 2012.
Cua later lays down the guideline for good assessment: «The assessments
should introduce the students to poorly structured problems since then the prob-
lems that students will face will be authentic.»—Francisco Cua. Dec 4, 2012. In
particular, he reminds:
V: Verification or How Do We Know Students Are Learning? 73

To develop students for team work, assessments would be on collaborative

tasks.—Francisco Cua. Jan 15, 2013.

But there is a change in the air not only about what to assess, but also about
who should assess.
«My suggestion is to bring in experts in subject plus experts in ethics, human values, from
spiritual/religious institutes and develop an appropriate curriculum to teach moral values
and skills explicitly with assessments.»—Shashidhar Venkatesh Murthy. Feb 13, 2013.

It appears that self- and peer-assessment is less invasive than that (from)
adults. Adult assessment shifts the focus of the student from problem-solv-
ing to appeasing the adult.—William Jackson. Dec 14, 2012.

We observe that the automation of assessment, the marking by peers,

MOOCs, and the problem of verifying the student’s identity in a virtual world are
If we believe 21st century teachers require a newly thought through and honed
skills set, we must ensure that their assessment aligns with the required skills for
students. The term test derives from the Latin word testum meaning an earthen
vessel for measuring the purity of metals. We believe that measuring the students’
knowledge is far more suited to a traditional mindset of teaching. The posters in
this forum understand that assessment must link directly to outcomes and incor-
porate the skills deemed worthy of development such as metacognitive thinking,
collaborative skills, and research skills. (As well as the posts below, see F2, P, R, T
and U for further information).

W: Willingness to Learn, Worth Doing Is Hard, Work

Engaging—Interesting—Motivating, Passionate Teaching

Ultimately we teach who we are, rather than what we know (Palmer 2010)
Therefore, to be effective and maintain effectiveness over time, teachers must be
willing and be interested learners in their discipline and in the art of teaching. The
posts below indicate these desires. As the skills and knowledge of any discipline
are readily available to students without any teacher intervention, our vital role is
to sift through, organise and find ways to help students practise the skills, knowl-
edge and understandings in ways that make them worthy, accessible, authentic and
74 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

In pre-service teaching, one of us (Gloria Latham) works on student’s willing-

ness to learn by inviting carefully selected graduates to return to the university
classroom each year and talk to undergraduate students about their work. These
teachers, close to the same age as the students, are admired and believed and lis-
tened to as they share their passion for teaching, the daily challenges they face
and the knowledge and skills they require to negotiate these challenges. They
also share the risks they take, along with their willingness to work hard and keep

W1. Willingness

Today’s teachers need to have high expectations of their students. They must
be willing to learn just as the students, and in some cases, learn from the
students.—Elzora Watkins. Nov 15, 2012.

«First identify those teachers who have a motivation and a willingness to get their students
to learn. For without this right attitude, little can be achieved towards the development of
teaching capacity for the 21st century.»—Carlos Aburto. Dec 10, 2012.

W2. Worth Doing Is Hard

I would say that the overarching challenge is now as it has always been: to
get and keep students engaged in the subject matter. This has been addressed
in many other comments here regarding the use of technology, but I think
in today’s (US) culture, it has been made more difficult by the focus on
immediacy and instant gratification. Most everything worth doing is hard,
and this above all is the most important lesson to teach and to learn. If the
teacher is constantly learning and is curious, this transfers to the students—
they see this and realise making mistakes and exploring are acceptable and
even desirable. If technology is the way to do this, then so be it. If not (and
in many cases this is true), then falling back to more traditional teaching
approaches will be successful. The skill comes in recognizing which situa-
tion you’re in.—Eric Lagally. Nov 21, 2012.
W: Willingness to Learn, Worth Doing … 75

W3. Work Engaging—Interesting—Motivating

(Eliot Wigginton and his Foxfire Project) was an educator who leaped to
the conclusion that the students brought the content to the classroom from
their own immediate community. This is an essential factor in understand-
ing the nature of the 21st century classroom. Without an enormous budget,
and by engaging the students’ individual interests and passions, the teach-
er’s role becomes that of “cognitive master”, the student’s role, “cognitive
apprentice”.—Jonathan Edwards. Nov 29, 2012.

«Teachers should not teach the answers to the questions that their students will find in the
examinations. Teachers should rather generate an inherent interest by the students towards
fascinating science, let them know the fun parts of science, and expose their young brains
to the unknown parts of science. This will lead to quality teaching.»—Sudhanshu Pati.
Nov 30, 2012.

Motivation requires a purpose, a question, a necessity; typical school cur-

riculums have no purpose, they present problem solving in an entirely hypo-
thetical context, they do not provide answers to meaningful questions and
are, therefore, boring.—William Jackson. Dec 13, 2012.

Sadly, much teaching is boring:

My most vivid memory of my three first years at school is the image of

the three (years) across the yard as seen from the school window.—Louis
Brassard. Dec 13. 2012.


What works today, or at least with my nephew who is in the second grade, is
eLearning. He has eLearning of both Math and Reading, and makes signifi-
cant progresses because it provides him with an immediate success as well
as a rating system. So far most kids like computer and games. Architecture,
biology etc. are all opportunities that exist and unfortunately not a lot has
been done.—Dorina Grossu. Dec 13, 2012.
76 4  Results of Thematic Analysis

«Extrinsic feedback has a negative effect upon feelings of self competence and tends to
result in an unwillingness to learn from feedback.»—William Jackson. Dec 14, 2012.
«Something about motivation: Motivation can be inculcated. To do so, the teacher has to
exploit existing motivation and develop it to the next level.»—Dorin Isoc. Dec 19, 2012.

W4. Passionate Teaching

Should teachers be model civil servants, or passionate facilitators?

Passionate teachers organise and focus their passionate interests by getting to the heart
to their subject and sharing with their students some of what lies there—the beauty and
power that drew them to this field in the first place and that has deepened over time as
they have learned and experienced more. “Passionate teachers convey their passion
to novice learners—their students—by acting as partners in learning, rather than as
experts in the field.” [Fried, The Passionate teacher] As partners, they invite less experi-
enced learners to search for knowledge and insightful experiences, and they build confi-
dence and competence among students who might otherwise choose to sit back and watch
their teacher do and say interesting things. (Daniel Liston & Jim Garrison, “Teaching,
Learning, and Loving”: 41; 2004)—Kafrawi Tuara. Dec 14, 2012.

Louis Brassard (Dec, 13, 2013), one of the posters above, writes about early mem-
ories of schooling as yearning not to be there at all. Many students feel they are
being held captive in schools; prisoners in a place devoid of joy or purpose. Our
job as teachers is to set students free to explore, to want to learn to feel, as a young
boy said to Seymour Papert, that he was having hard fun. In an interview, Linguist
James Gee, picks up on this notion of hard fun:

“Hard fun is, of course, the idea that we take pleasure in accomplish-
ing something difficult: the joy in meeting and mastering a challenge. As
a result, when someone is doing something that is hard fun, moment by
moment it looks more like “work” than “fun,” but the net effect is pleasur-
able overall.”


ACDE (Australian Council of Deans of Education). (2001). New learning: A charter for
Australian education. Canberra: ACDE.
Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). Taxonomy for teaching, learning and assessment:
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Chapter 5
Comparative Analysis Findings

Abstract  In this Qualitative Comparative Analysis, the ideas of  posters in a global

online exchange are compared to a group of Big Thinkers in 21st century educa-
tion. The analysis reveals many commonalities in their desire for urgent and radical
change. Both groups are in agreement that a new paradigm of education is required,
providing far more autonomy to teachers. In order for education to move towards
innovation, creativity and cooperative problem-solving, the current and enduring
tensions between this radical change and the prevailing standardisation discourse
need to be resolved. There are opportunities for further research and action.

Keywords  Collective genius  ·  Global challenges  ·  Paradigm shift  · Problem-based


We now share the findings of a comparative analysis undertaken between the Big
Thinkers selected as a case study and the posters selected as a case study (above).

The Nature of Educational Change

While all educational theorists are espousing the necessity for urgent change, it
is the nature of the change that is in dispute. Darling-Hammond and Adamson
(2014), Fullan (2001, 2009, 2011), Hargreaves and Shirley (2008), Shirley and
MacDonald (2009) among others view change as reform and renewal, improving
the existing educational systems. Fullan (2009) a writer and producer of change

© The Author(s) 2016 79

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8_5
80 5  Comparative Analysis Findings

theory, worked as a policy advisor in Ontario, Canada and the Website of his deep
learning project. Erin Millar reports that Fullan
‘contributed to significant improvements to high school graduation rates and standardized
test results in literacy and numeracy. These strides were made while also narrowing the
achievement gap between the province’s highest and lowest performing schools − a com-
bination of academic outcomes and equity that is the holy grail to education reformers.’1

Elsewhere, Hargreaves and Shirley (2008), while against many of the current
educational policies, still work within the framework of renewal. They advocate
for “alternative educational policies instead of those that are endorsed in the USA
and that ‘cut funding, pit teachers and schools against one another, and reduce
teacher professionalism to the hurried implementation of policymakers’ ever-
changing mandates” (Hargreaves and Shirley 2008, p. 139).
Yong Zhao and those who have influenced his thinking are the theorists in
focus in this analysis. These Big Thinkers are seeking a dramatic paradigm shift.
At the core of this shift, students’ individual talents are fostered. 21st century skills
are developed from within an authentic and purposeful project. It is a place of
learning where there is a creative, innovative and cross disciplinary approach taken
with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Some of the dimensions of the differences between “old and new paradigms of
teaching” are often summarised in the table by Smith and Waller (1997), which
can be projected forwards. We asked, “What might their comparison look like in
2025?” Will it remain relatively unaltered?
The Big Thinkers we are discussing are against all types of reform and renewal.
Why? Because renewal indicates that the system is worth fixing, but these Big
Thinkers feel that current education systems are outdated and reform is not good
enough. They recognise that while traditional mass education has been about prepar-
ing skilled workers and passing on the cultural values of their local society, this is no
longer needed. Standardising learners for mass production existed in a former world.
Zhao (2010) argues that as we are no longer divided by geography or distance,
we are virtually connected and therefore interdependent (Zhao 2010). This global
and technological shift requires educators to think in radically different ways.
New technologies, Robinson (2011) reminds us, have changed the very nature of
work. In the global homogenisation of learning, those services that cost less will
be much more competitive than those that cost more. As well, old jobs are being
replaced by automation or farmed out. It is increasingly important for learners to
stand-out rather than fit in.
In a talk to educators in Australia, Zhao argues that the big questions about
what knowledge and skills 21st century learners require have too often been left to
bureaucrats and handed down to teachers to follow (Yong Zhao: 21st century skills
https://fuse.education.vic.gov.au/pages/View.aspx?pin=CW9LMX). Zhao stresses
the importance of teachers having a strong voice and more opportunity to engage

1Erin Millar. Deeper than knowledge. http://www.newpedagogies.info/TheStory.

The Nature of Educational Change 81

in dialogue about these issues. For instance, it is important to discuss “What is a

school?” Traditionally it was thought of as a physical space but does it need to be
that today? These questions are vital to discuss so that “taken for granted” notions
of schooling are not normalised.
The posters to the ResearchGate question on what 21st century skills teachers
require are engaged in the kind of dialogue that Zhao advocates. They are aware
of the urgent need for radical educational change. They view this change and the
skills that 21st century teachers need as requiring a completely new mindset. The
posters are also generally opposed to standards, and high stake testing. British
poster, Paquette (July 8, 2013) believes “the biggest fault of government spon-
sored education is [that] it leans toward wanting equivalent results for people who
are not equivalent.” Other posters referred to curriculum as a fixed grid when our
children need wings, the compliance mentality, teachers deviating from the cookie-
cutter approach, a paradigm shift and high stakes testing that reduces efficacy and
resilience. In relation to what skills teachers require they used expressions such as:
teaching to an unknown world, a world in constant mutation, addressing students’
needs in an entirely new way, teachers with spherical minds to understand.
One of the posters, Katusiime (December 2, 2012) recommended that posters read
Barr and Tagg’s (1995) article From teaching to learning: A new paradigm for under-
graduate education (our I: Inspiring, Innovating, Inventing, Imagining).The authors
offer a compelling argument that the reforms in education are failing due to the fact
that the reforms are still located in an instructional paradigm rather than a learn-
ing paradigm. A new paradigm shift is mentioned repeatedly in the literature. Barr
and Tagg (1995) believe that “paradigms change when the ruling paradigm loses its
capacity to solve problems and generate positive vision for the future” (p. 25).
While educators recognise that the instructional model no longer solves problems,
the shift in practical terms is incredibly difficult, due in part to politicians and admin-
istrators dictating practice and to teachers’ own DNA: their traditional and often nor-
mative and fixed experiences as learners. Therefore, while many of their beliefs are
learner centred, a great deal of the language they used on the post in ResearchGate
remained in an instructional framework: Students were given problems, while we
teach skills… Ethics should be an essential part of what we teach, Introduce tasks…
They refer back to standards particularly when discussing assessment.
The poster’s overall narrative appears to be one of longing; longing for the
courage and freedom, the means to foster a new direction. While they express wis-
dom drawn from their minds and hearts, there remains a quest for their bountiful
ideas to be used. These posters appear to lack direction; they are being blocked
from their implementation, or they are still somewhat resistant to transform-
ing their instructional teaching paradigm to a learning paradigm. This longing
showed through their posts in numerous ways. At the outset, the sheer volume
of posts from around the world was set alight by this single question posed on
ResearchGate and the challenges faced. The posters repeatedly remarked about the
importance of this question. Perhaps it might provide them with needed direction
or provide acknowledgment of their current direction. By lacking the means, one
poster asked, what [skills] will be needed for jobs that don’t exist? While another
82 5  Comparative Analysis Findings

pondered, If students are encouraged to choose what they want to learn and how
they learn it, what is the role of the teacher? Some of the posters who have made
attempts to alter their practice have been met with roadblocks. The system has its
set standards that block me from designing curriculum. The tests are already in
place. It’s been a struggle to explain [an innovation] to administrators. There is
also some resistance that may be tied to acquiring a new professional identity and
the work involved in the change. One of the authors of this Monograph (Jacinto
Jan 3, 2013) posted a recommendation to read a book by Ian Gilbert, Why do
I need a teacher when I’ve got Google? Here Gilbert asks: Is yours a teaching
school or a learning school? (2011, p. 120) This question alone raises important
issues about how teachers are framing or having to frame new professional identi-
ties if they alter their practices to a learning school.
The posts are peppered with famous quotations, articles and books along with
strong vocal beliefs about how we should be preparing students for a world that
does not exist. However, between the lines in the posts, in the white spaces, there
appears a longing for ways to discover how to and to be afforded the freedom to
transform their beliefs into practice.
As one of the Big Thinkers, we attempted to follow Hong Zhao with the trail of
people who have influenced him and compare their ideas to the posters.
In several of his books, papers and talks, Zhao asks a fundamental question
(rebootEd 2013) ‘What is the purpose of education?’ This broad philosophical
question is raised as an invitation to think well beyond trying to reform education
by tinkering around the edges of existing educational directions and to have more
critical and informed conversations around education’s purpose in a global, tech-
nological age. It is a difficult question because the pace of change is so great that
the future is difficult (or as some would) say impossible to predict. Yet, teaching to
the unknown is a necessary direction and a fundamental shift in how education is
currently delivered.
Like all Big Thinkers, Zhao’s well of knowledge has been filled and shared in
part by the wisdom and counsel of others locally and globally. The posters also
spoke of the guidance of others. They generously shared the writers and teachers
who were influential to them (See the appended websites supplied by posters).
Locally, Zhao attributes a large part of his direction to his thoughtful yet illit-
erate parents. Although his family was poor and living in a tiny village in the
Sichuan Province of China, they allowed him to go to school rather than work in
the rice fields. Zhao explains that his parents were not the stereotypical Chinese
Tiger Mums and Dads who forged their children’s destinies. Rather, his parents
allowed him to be unconventional, creative and entrepreneurial. “They tolerated
my crazy dreams, unusual behaviours and unconventional pursuits as a farm boy.”
(Zhao 2014, p. vii) Zhao was able to rise above his social disadvantage in less
traditional ways. It is here in the posts as well, where culture and identity rear
their different heads. Yong Zhao’s well of knowledge has, in part, also been filled
globally by Larry Rosenstock, Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Sugata Mitra, Rob
Salkowitz, Alan November, amongst others.
Tolerance 83


It is this sense of tolerance that is a theme that permeates the core of many of
Zhao’s beliefs and those of the other Big Thinkers. They want teachers to pro-
vide the environment and the necessary resources that allow students to own
their futures and they advocate the desire to liberate human capacity. Zhao and
Robinson champion teachers who make it possible for their students to dream.
Robinson and Aronica (2009) deem it finding one’s Element; a place where natural
talent meets personal passion. Zhao goes so far as to suggest that affective skills
may be more important than cognitive skills. He certainly advocates more of a bal-
ance between the two. While countries can achieve high PISA scores, Zhao asks at
what cost are these top scores to the happiness and wellbeing of students?
The posters express their desire and need to “learn to stand aside,” (William
Jackson, November 16, 2013) to make way for students and the importance of
holistic education (See H). In discussing the teachers’ role, Edwards (November
28, 2012) represents the ethos of the posters when he says, “We are not con-
tent providers anymore. We have to provide the places and the tools.” Edwards
describes the 21st century classroom as a playing field, or rather the place where
problems are engaged. The posters convey a desire for students to have self-struc-
tured, self-directed projects and for teachers to be the bridge. Yet they see it as the
teachers’ responsibility to set up this environment rather than the students’ respon-
sibility or a joint responsibility which is far more learner-centred.
While discussion on the ResearchGate site settled on uncertain futures,
Tobias Van den Bergh, a South African poster suggested reading Learning for an
unknown future, by Rolland Barnett. Barnett (2004) takes an ontological rather
than an epistemological approach to educating for the unknown and asks: If the
future is unknown, what would it mean to learn for it?
Like Zhao and Robinson, he desires to liberate human capacity, Barnett argues
for a pedagogy of human being that will enable individuals to prosper in a highly
complex world. Rather than teaching skills or knowledge, Barnett’s philosophical
text calls for helping individuals understand themselves and one another:
“Being-for-uncertainty does not especially know much about the world nor have at its dis-
posal a raft of skills to deploy in and on the world. Being-for-uncertainty stands in certain
kinds of relationships to the world. It is disposed in certain kinds of ways. It is charac-
terised, therefore, by certain kinds of dispositions. Among such dispositions are careful-
ness, thoughtfulness, humility, criticality, receptiveness, resilience, courage and stillness.”
(2004, p. 258).

In framing his terms, Barnett calls for an open frame between student and
teacher, teachers and teachers and between students and students. This focus on
self and one’s relationship to others has the potential to builds confidence, happi-
ness and well being.
84 5  Comparative Analysis Findings

Global Challenges and Opportunities

Teachers have a great (and worrying) opportunity to provide a high quality educa-
tion to our youth, to get it right the first time, and to ensure that the youth have the
needed skills for the unknown job market.
Youth unemployment is one of the global growing challenges. “In 2011, nearly
75 million aged … 15–24 were unemployed world-wide.” Zhao (2014, p. 2),
Salkowitz (2010), Rosenstock (2008), Mitra and Rana (2002, Mitra (2004, 2006)
among others view such challenges as opportunities.
Mitra, another Big Thinker and self-educated individual accepted the challenge
of India’s inability to get ‘good’ teachers to work with young people in remote and
poverty stricken regions. He began by experimenting with the internet, producing
boundary free environments where knowledge, ideas, schooling, collaboration and
commerce could occur without limitations. Mitra and Rana (2002), Mitra (2004,
2005, 2006) is now well known for his ‘hole in the wall’ experiment. Since its
inception in 1999, Hole-in-the-Wall has grown from a single computer at Kalkaji,
New Delhi to more than a hundred computers at various locations across India and
now is in Colombia as well and parts of England. The driving force behind Hole-
in-the-Wall is the concept of minimally invasive education. Mitra recognised that
given the resources—in this case a computer hooked up to the internet and placed
in a wall—children could learn on their own as long as they had desire and
Mitra asks yet another essential question. What is the future of learning? He
argues that if you use self-organising systems as the primary method for learning,
then the curriculum has to self-organise as well! A good curriculum is one that is
changing every single day—not once every five years, as it does now in much of
the developed world. To support these children, Mitra established a Granny Cloud,
where currently over 300 grandmothers, other relatives, friends and retired teach-
ers can provide an hour of free time a week encouraging and questioning children
through Skype.3
Mitra’s findings have raised some fear around the future need for teachers.
Quay (November 18, 2013) a lecturer at The University of Melbourne, Australia
reminds us that Mitra’s work doesn’t imply that teachers are obsolete. In fact, it
education needs good teachers who are much more than knowledge experts. Rather than
transmitters of knowledge, these teachers are designers and they are Grandmothers.
Teachers of this kind draw out the ingenuity and creativity of young people by challenging
them, in groups, to do meaningful things.

Like Mitra, Salkowitz (2010) looks globally at the opportunities of youth by

examining social and economic implications. He turns his attention to the problem

2Hole-in-the-wall: Lighting the spark of learning. http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/.

3The global experiment in self-organised learning. https://www.theschoolinthecloud.org/.
Global Challenges and Opportunities 85

of developing countries bottom of the population pyramid. In Nigeria for instance,

nearly 45 % of their population of 160 million are under the age of 15. Salkowitz
believes that there are three forces reshaping the world: Youth, Technology and
Entrepreneurship. He expects these qualities to completely remake business in
less-developed nations with populations that are skewed towards youth, including
India, Vietnam, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Mexico and Columbia. Salkowitz
argues that: “Tech-savvy twenty-something’s with mobile devices in hand will fig-
ure out ways to serve base-of-the-pyramid markets, … and then scale their opera-
tions globally to rewrite the rules of business.” (BizEd, July/August, 2010, n.p.)
November (2010), an international leader in educational technology, asks yet
another important question, Who owns the learning? He wants students to own the
learning and feels certain that this ownership will empower them to reach unimag-
ined heights. Yet he witnesses too many educational institutions where they have
bought the devices before altering the culture of teaching and learning.
Youth’s potential was not in evidence from the posters’ responses to the skills
that 21st century teachers require. While this is an understandable omission given
the focus of the posted ResearchGate question, there wasn’t any mention of educa-
tors harnessing the knowledge and skills that youth bring to learning as a skill that
teachers’ require. While posters voiced the importance of knowing their students,
there was little discussion about what to do with this knowing, beyond planning
for them. The posters didn’t discuss how they might address the balance of global
resources (See J2) by using youth’s potential.


Creativity is another theme that emerged from these Big Thinkers. It is a theme
that was presented in this monograph. (see I: Inspiring, Innovating, Inventing,
Imagining and in T: Thinking, Critical Creative Thinking, Logical Minds and
Problem-Solving). Robinson defines creativity as “the process of having original
ideas that have value,” (2009, p. 114). While creativity isn’t a skill that can easily
be taught, we all have the capacity to create. Zhao (2010) argues that while crea-
tivity cannot be taught it can easily be killed. Robinson reworks this same idea to
say: We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. These two Big Thinkers pro-
vide compelling evidence that schooling which standardises learning and values
and measures the regurgitated knowledge is a known culprit in creativity’s demise.
If we produce students who know and can do the same things, uniqueness is not
valued and this is the death of creative expression.
Sir Ken Robinson is a passionate supporter of creative schooling. He led the
British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural educa-
tion, an inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and
the economy. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes
Everything, is a look at human creativity and education.
86 5  Comparative Analysis Findings

Table 5.1  Percent “highly creative” drops with age

Age group Number Year % who scored in “highly
creative” range
5 year olds 1600 children 1968 98
10 year olds 1600 children 1978 30
15 year olds 1600 children 1983 12
25+ year olds 280,000 adults 1985 2

In a well documented, longitudinal study by Land and Jarman (1992) eight

tests were delivered on divergent thinking over a number of years. Their Table
reveals that the percent that scored in the “highly creative” range drops drastically
with age (Table 5.1).
Land and Jarman (1992) conclude that creativity is therefore not learned, but
rather unlearned. He believes that teachers need to reinforce and encourage stu-
dents’ fresh thinking and promote high levels of creative behaviour, enriching their
thinking skills, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making.
In the past, creativity and its importance were only formally advocated and fos-
tered in the arts. Now the literature in all disciplines is prolific on the importance
of creativity in all aspects of education, life and business. Each article, book and
conference paper offers its own list of qualities, attributes and skills required to
foster the path to creativity. For instance, Pink (2006) believes we need to develop
six human abilities he calls the six senses. Creativity will become, he argues, the
competitive difference that can differentiate commodities. Pink outlines his six
essential senses for success with creativity:
1. Design—Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
2. Story—Narrative added to products and services—not just argument. The best
of the six senses.
3. Symphony—Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
4. Empathy—Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
5. Play—Bringing humour and light-heartedness to business and products.
6. Meaning—the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.
Florida (2002, 2012), an urban studies theorist, has devised his own list. He
defines creativity as its own social class associated with the rise of new work
environments. As we are all born with the capacity to create we need to develop
Technology, Talents and Tolerance.
The posters discussed creativity and its importance in education yet strug-
gled with how to assess it. They appear to be caught in the increasingly preva-
lent accountability agenda that requires them to demonstrate evidence of learning.
The problem for these posters becomes, what learning counts? Australian Holden
(May 6, 2013) laments that the educational systems are the same as 50 years ago
and fail to measure understanding. Other posters admit that creativity is difficult to
measure. Grant Wiggins, creator of ‘Understanding by Design’ still works within
Creativity 87

the standards-driven curriculum. He strongly believes creativity can be assessed by

focusing on the product’s impact and suggests the following criteria:
1. Synthesise ideas in original and surprising ways.
2. Ask new questions to build upon an idea.
3. Brainstorm multiple ideas and solutions to problems.
4. Communicate ideas in new and innovative ways.
What is most revealing in this analysis is not how we assess creativity but rather
the posters’ beliefs in the need to foster creativity in all discipline areas yet feeling
coerced to measure and account for student learning in more traditional ways.

Problem-Based Learning and Entrepreneurship

It is through Problem Based Learning driven by students’ interests where creativity

and entrepreneurial skills can be best fostered and furthered. In a decade-long lon-
gitudinal study with 7 countries on the art of leading innovation Hill et al. (2014)
found that to make innovation happen, leaders need to create a place, and an envi-
ronment where people are willing to undertake the hard work that innovative prob-
lem solving requires. They discovered that it is not the leaders who require vision;
it is the collective genius of the group. The Big Thinkers we studied are no longer
propagating the rise of creative, innovative individuals, but rather the creative, col-
lective genius.
High Technology High schools will be used as an example of how problem-
based learning and an entrepreneurial spirit can be viewed as the integration of
the themes mentioned above and the skills that teachers require. It is also a way of
moving education forward. High Tech High schools attempt to fully integrate the
mind, the heart and the hand. They are problem-based schools where projects are
local and international. They have authentic problems worked on by small teams
of interested students. They are where the teachers and members of the local and
global community provide the environment and the resources for the production of
their new ideas. These students make things. High Tech High now has an accred-
ited internship programme for prospective teachers so that they can grow their
own. It is education that prepares students for life and for the workplace. Small
teaching teams meet every morning of the school year to reflect, revise and refine
their direction. The teachers are life-long learners.
High Tech High teachers are programme and curriculum designers. They
undertake the project themselves that they want the students to engage with to
attain clarity and avoid hitches. The teachers work in interdisciplinary teams to
design the courses that they teach. An important aspect of the school is the series
of exhibitions, where students share their work explain their learning and receive
critiques from peers, teachers and others in the community.
88 5  Comparative Analysis Findings

Unlike many schools or colleges, it does not segregate:

• students who use their hands from students who use their minds. Thus there is
no vocational or academic educational divide.
• students by social class. They are all public schools.
• the school from the community.
• science, technology, engineering and maths from art and design.
The idea for the schools’ direction arose out of Rosenstock’s work as a carpen-
ter and then teaching carpentry classes to children with psychiatric problems.
Rosenstock (2008) wants students to become creative global entrepreneurs.
The World Economic Forum (2009, 2011) identifies entrepreneurship at the
core of its global education initiative. Zhao (2010) defines entrepreneurship as
being “fundamentally about the desire to solve problems creatively” (p. 9). Several
posters recognised the need for problem based and or project/work based learn-
ing. There was more general consent among the posters that skills such as creative
problem-solving and collaborative learning are essential yet with little mention of
these skills being fostered in a relevant and authentic context. There was also a
sense that posters viewed problem-based and project-based learning as an add-on
to their existing practice rather than viewing it as its core. This was demonstrated
in their use of the terms, ‘incorporate’ and ‘integrate’ when describing their prac-
tice; To incorporate creative tactics, to incorporate the collaborative tools Web2
offers, Finch (November 22, 2013) posted, “I try to incorporate industry knowl-
edge … for the hands on effect.” To integrate [creative problem-solving] into
their teaching, one poster, Silva (February 5, 2013) expressed this adding-on to
old practices well. He said, “I feel we are not designing a new form of education
but simply trying to adapt to the demands of the new.” There is an unvoiced fra-
gility and uncertainty involved in transforming practice. McGreggor (November
13, 2013) exemplifies this uncertainty: “I think the 21st century professor needs to
develop an understanding of how to present this type of learning.”
Entrepreneurship, while mentioned briefly, was not integral to the posters dis-
cussion. A couple of posters in developing countries shared that their educational
institutions were attempting to build youth’s capacity by some start-up projects
and were offering courses in entrepreneurship.


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Chapter 6

Abstract  This chapter explores some of the implications of change; some of the
tensions present in teaching for an unknown future. While recognising that their
current teaching is losing its effectiveness, the posters yearn for the means to actu-
ate change. There are tensions around their teacher identity, mandated systems and
fixed environments, the division of learning into disciplines that do not allow for
the inclusion of these skills to be implemented in authentic ways. The chapter con-
cludes with the realisation that education is at a crossroads and there are new ques-
tions that are important to address as a global educational community.

Keywords Forum question · New survival skills · Professional development · 

Teachers and researchers

The respondents to the forum question demonstrated in their participation, many of

the varied skills that 21st century teachers require. Rather than using and develop-
ing isolated skills, these posters were employing and further honing their skills in a
purposeful context. A theory maker is one who forms a tentative insight or belief.
Theory makers are generally those high profile names who attract research funding
and who make keynote addresses at conferences. However, the posters in the thread
we studied on ResearchGate gave us the opportunity to champion the lesser known
teachers and researchers from around the world and make public their insightful
ideas and concerns. Our study was an opportunity to better understand posters’ col-
lective thinking by comparing it to some Big Thinkers in education. The posters are
from diverse backgrounds, disciplines and educational sectors yet they were united

© The Author(s) 2016 91

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8_6
92 6 Discussion

in their desire to better their teaching and in turn, students’ learning. Many of the
posters were taught and continue to teach in highly structured, traditional ways,
even while they recognise that their approaches are no longer effective. As they
explored their views, offered new possibilities and shared current resources and
practices, they became a community of practice addressing the problem of what
21st century skills they require as teachers. No single poster lead the thread but all
acted as respectful guides for change. This is also the direction the Big Thinkers
we selected advocated. They believe a new paradigm is needed as education sys-
tems can no longer be reformed. The systems themselves are no longer useful.
From the forum question, we analysed and recognised a microcosm of new
thinking and acting required for 21st century teachers and the skills needed to
help manage the unknown. In fact, the processes in which the participants in this
community embarked on reflect many of the themes shown in Table 4.1. Hélia
Jacinto posed a problem (G) as she herself used problem based learning. The ques-
tion posted (Q) was one that she does not know the answer to (as there is no sin-
gle answer) but it was one she was immensely curious about (L) and interested
in exploring with others. She selected a reputable online site (A) and posted the
question that attracted a global audience of teachers and researchers from a wide
range of disciplines, skills, experiences and educational contexts. Participants in the
forum were engaged (E) in the problem, as they recognised its immediate relevance
to their learning and to their teaching. They invested their time in critical and crea-
tive thinking and problem-solving (T). The posters discussed the importance of
employing digital literacy to engage with the problem (D). Together they began to
build new knowledge as a newly formed virtual community (B), (P). Throughout
the online dialogue, the posters were provided timely, constructive and authentic
feedback (F) by their peers. Some participants were highly vocal, actively trying to
challenge and overcome institutional constraints (C). Some were the artists, creat-
ing and inspiring and innovating new directions (I). There were ethical participants
(E). The posters also acknowledged the constraints that they faced in developing
21st century skills. While not always overt, there was an undercurrent of the varied
challenges they face daily. Constraints were also addressed by the Big Thinkers we
selected, especially at the systems level. These Big Thinkers recognise that terms
like “the good teacher” are value laden. Schools often have their own beliefs about
what constitutes “good”. Too often, the “good teacher” is simply the compliant
We noticed a fragility and even fear in letting go of the teacher they have been
and moving to the teacher that they should become.
The sentiments that the posters expressed were inextricably bound in their
social, political, cultural and personal educational histories, current work and
The posters and the Big Thinkers believe that breaking down many of the dis-
cipline barriers is a necessity (Zhao 2012; Robinson and Aronica 2009; Salowitz
2010). Then exploring these relationships within other disciplines should be
undertaken through problem based learning. Both the Big Thinkers and posters
stressed the importance of curiosity, creativity, imagination and innovation but the
6 Discussion 93

posters were not always certain how to develop these areas for themselves and for
their students in regulatory immoveable systems. As well, while the posters recog-
nised the powerful role that technology plays in learning, they offered numerous
ways to build their own skills in technology to use it effectively. There were ten-
sions around how to assess and manage these changes within their current regula-
tory systems.
The posters and the Big Thinkers asked many probing questions while attempt-
ing to respond to 21st century skills. Below are a few of their questions:
• How can teachers cater to a multitude of different talents and interests?
• Are we expecting too much of teachers?
• How field sensitive are 21st century tools?
• Why are we [teachers] still delivering content?
• What does it mean to know? What is worth knowing? What is the purpose of
• What is the future of learning?
• Who owns the learning?
• What is a school?
• Is yours a teaching school or a learning school?
All these questions need addressing through ongoing dialogue with other edu-
cators, researchers and the wider community. What sets the views of the posters
apart from a list of skills was the realisation that these skills need to be owned by
the teacher, demonstrated and then fostered. Problem-solving scenarios and pro-
jects need to be created where these values and skills can be encountered. That
is, these skills need to be experienced and then reflected upon rather than merely
taught. In fact, Wagner (2008, p. xxiii) discusses the new survival skills, that sur-
pass reading, writing and arithmetic—“effective communication, curiosity, and
critical thinking skills”—and explains that “[t]hese are no longer skills solely the
elites in a society must muster, they are essential skills for all of us”. The discus-
sion thread on ResearchGate became far more than addressing the skills needed
for teachers. It began to unveil more of the complexities, some of the challenges
and opportunities that these changes to teaching represent.
Myriad texts exist about new learning, and the skills required for 21st century
teachers but few from the people who face these educational opportunities and
challenges on a daily basis. Their collective wisdom and united voice needs to be
listened to and acted upon for purposeful change to occur.
This is a time of great uncertainty; a pivotal time in education’s history. We are at a
crossroads. Teachers are caught between their desire for urgent change and the often
unmoveable educational systems and traditions that stop a new paradigm from surfac-
ing. Rather than renew, reform or try to fix the old traditional and instructional model,
the Big Thinkers we selected feel it has outlived its usefulness. Learner-centred learn-
ing, learning innovation, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit provide a new way
forward for a very different world. In this direction, 21st century skills are fostered
and further developed in authentic contexts with teachers providing the environment
94 6 Discussion

and the resources, designing new problems, devising challenging questions, critiquing
products and building bridges locally and globally between the known and the new.

Limitations of the Research

By nature, research is seldom all-encompassing and the limitations of our work

are mainly due to the limits of our resources.
We wished to obtain strong data in the form of astute statements of stances on
the teaching of (teachers to teach) future skills, so we relied on registered profes-
sional posters as our source of data. In essence, we gathered the perspectives of
experts to brainstorm the needed skills. Because of the nature of the online forum,
we could not go back and clarify responses or seek to expand them. This meant
that the reasons behind their opinions, attitudes or beliefs were not always evident,
and could not be further researched.
Many posters did not have the same first language, so making their views
understood and evaluating them from these different contexts was challenging.
The corpus that we collected and processed is a set of short but thoughtful
statements from today’s composite of thinkers in education, enriched with their
personal and subjective experiences. We need to emphasize that the contributions
considered for the purpose of this study are, essentially, personal views on the
theme. There was no cause, or pressure for the posters to justify or support their
opinions on any matter via references.
Furthermore, we noticed that most posters did not respond to the follow-up
question we posed: “Are teachers, in your countries, being prepared for these
responsibilities and challenges?” and if so, “How?” Therefore, teacher training
directed to fostering the skills needed to face the 21st century challenges remains a
fruitful ground for research.
It also became apparent that many skills that the posters deemed necessary
were not solely 21st century skills.


We divide this section into two broad recommendations: one addressed at teachers
(empowering them to take action locally), and another addressed at political deci-
sion makers (encouraging them to address the list of skills the posters amassed and
taking action by preparing teachers to deal with the unknown).
In times of rapid change and great uncertainty, teachers and researchers—both
novice and experienced—require very specific support and guidance to develop
and practise the skills and conduct relevant research required for 21st century
learners. There are also teachers and researchers who have the capacity to become
the guides for others, sharing and demonstrating their expertise and skills. They
need to be listened to, encouraged and supported to work collaboratively at devel-
oping their 21st century skills in research and teaching. Likewise, leaders in
Recommendations 95

educational institutions should identify and address the current and emerging pro-
fessional strengths and learning needs of their staff.
Furthermore, teachers and researchers should encouraged and provided with
the time and the guidance to engage in deep conversations with one another
locally (within their work places) to come to shared beliefs and understandings.
They also need time to communicate globally in order to take their thinking fur-
ther. Professional forums like ResearchGate are ideal platforms for educators
to express their thoughts and share resources as they discuss and debate current
issues in education. They are also ideal platforms to find and network with like-
minded colleagues. ResearchGate is a very practical way of empowering teachers.
It is also about access to current and groundbreaking research. The diversity of the
posters made for the richness and importance of their contributions.
Teachers need to understand new pedagogy such as the pedagogy underlying
the concept of student centredness in driving their practice. We would recommend
that teachers think seriously about the skills that their students need now and in
the future, and develop those skills in themselves. Thus they will be able to convey
and foster those skills.
The uncertainty of future employment should not stop teachers from learning
the diverse combinations of generic skills that will be useful and in demand in the
rest of the 21st century. As forums will continue to be an increasing used platform
for global communication by teachers and researchers, there is a need for analy-
sis of these discussions and recommended actions to inform and improve learning.
There is also a need for further research and follow-up research.
We end with a call to action. We challenge each reader to be the John Amos
Comenius of the 21st century, and to become a hero.

It’s time to revise the word “hero” and those who engage in the trans-
formation of education are heroic indeed, and in deed. —Lynnclaire
Dennis. Aug 16, 2014.


Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2009). The element: How finding your passion changes everything.
New York: The Penguin Group.
Salowitz, R. (2010). Young world rising: How youth technology and entrepreneurship are chang-
ing the world from the bottom up, New York: Wiley.
Wagner, T. (2008). The global achievement gap: Why even our best schools don’t teach the new
survival skills our children need—and what we can do about it. New York: Basic Books.
Zhao, H. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students.CA:
Sage Publications.
Chapter 7

The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can effect climate changes

on the other side of the planet.
Paul Erlich

Abstract  This chapter summarises what the authors have learned during the
research process and recommends a number of directions. One of these is the
importance of listening to the wisdom of educators with diverse skills in more
concerted ways. The authors also learned the importance of individual and collec-
tive efficacy, and the disrupting of the known to seek better future directions.

Keywords  Collective efficacy  ·  Problem-based learning  ·  Professional development  · 

Professional identity

The collective wisdom from posters can and should be transformed into informed
practice for 21st century learners. Our readers must ultimately determine the shape
of the field and become our future educational leaders.
This research has produced a novel text for the professional development of
(pre-service and practising) teachers and researchers. The text has shown how it
is possible to identify skills that 21st century teachers must have to promote high
quality learning. These skills are presented in Table 4.1.
Each poster made a small contribution, which when taken collectively, created
a wonderful synergy with recent writing elsewhere. The authors refer to this pro-
cess as “tying of many little bits of string together to form something useful”.
As part of their professional development, teachers need to ask new questions
and respond to the questions asked by others.

© The Author(s) 2016 97

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8_7
98 7 Conclusion

A revolution in teaching tomorrow’s teachers is required. The posters in this

ResearchGate forum believe that urgent change is essential yet many feel pow-
erless to act differently and more responsively because of mandated systems and
high-stakes testing processes that they are required to adhere to.
The Big Thinkers selected for a comparative analysis with the posters are situ-
ated as the revolutionists: those who seek to overthrow the existing educational
systems that they believe are outmoded. These thinkers are promoting learner-cen-
tered education that allows individuals to realise and actualise their talents. In con-
trast to this view, National homogenisation (Zhao 2012) is a movement towards
“central government control of student learning,” (p. 27). The Big Thinkers under
consideration want to place that control back in the hands of teachers and school
communities. Furthermore, Apple (1993) when addressing teacher empower-
ment argues that the relentless push for accountability and standardisation drives
the tightly controlled curriculum and the accompanying de-professionalisation of
teaching. In a time when schools and teachers are judged by their students’ test
scores, many of our best teachers are leaving the profession. Apple understands
that we must look at better ways to improve schools than using prescriptive cur-
riculums and deskilling teachers.
This deskilling of teachers can have a significant effect on teacher efficacy, a
term first coined by Bandura (1997) to describe an individual’s belief in his or
her capacity to execute the behaviours necessary to produce specific performance
attainments. Expanding on this thought, Hoy et al. (2002) discuss the importance
of a collective efficacy.
Self and collective efficacy appeared to be fostered in this ResearchGate
forum. Self efficacy was in evidence when the posters were listened to, when they
expressed their beliefs and were valued for their considered responses; when they
were provided thoughtful feedback and had many of their ideas furthered by other
educators sharing possible directions and further readings. Collective efficacy was
evident in the way the responses generated a larger social good. Beliefs about col-
lective efficacy predict the level of group performance. Bandura’s (1997) collec-
tive efficacy study demonstrated that the stronger a teaching group’s collective
beliefs are, the greater the learning.
The professional development of teachers is another area too often mandated
by governments rather than initiated by the teachers, and researchers themselves.
The report by the OECD (2009) indicated that
A high degree of compulsory professional development may be indicative of a more
highly managed professional development system with less discretion for teachers to
choose the development they feel they need. On average among the participating countries
some 51 % of teachers’ professional development was compulsory. The proportion ranged
from about one-third or less in Austria, Belgium (Fl.), Denmark and Portugal to 78 % in
Malta and as high as 88 % in Malaysia. The countries with the highest number of compul-
sory days on average were Mexico, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy and Korea and those with the
lowest were Austria, Belgium (Fl.) and Ireland.

Jackson (2011) supports the OECD finding and advocates giving teachers the
opportunity, guidance, and voice to identify what practices would best build on
7 Conclusion 99

the strengths of students and engages them in learning essential skills, content and
strategies which can be applied to life-long learning and good citizenship.
Mandated professional development needs a new, more collaborative direction
where negotiation and greater balance is achieved between individual and institu-
tional needs. The 21st century teacher-researchers need to:
• become part of a global community of professionals to foster informed ongoing
discussions about teaching, research skills and knowledge.
• foster more multi-disciplinary, multi-sector research about teaching.
• guide the development of their own and students’ higher order thinking skills,
literacy skills, technological skills, skills of social interaction, feedback and
assessment and collaborative learning in contexts that are meaningful.
• keep the teaching-discipline knowledge current and remain critical consumers
of content.
Furthermore, the approach of problem-based learning must be integrated. Medical
research, shows that problem-based learning appears to be beneficial in fostering
certain aspects of skills for innovation. Hoidn and Kärkkäinenm (2014, p. 47).
At the international level, the OECD Innovation Strategy of 2010 highlights the
essential role of diverse skills in innovation processes. More recently the OECD
Skills Strategy 2 of 2012 explores further the crucial issues of skills development.
Also the OECD (2010) promotes transversal key competencies for all citizens and
advocates that (European) cooperation in education and training should include
the objectives of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels of educa-
tion (Hoidn and Kärkkäinenm 2014, p. 12).
Generically, Hoidn and Kärkkäinen advocate the following three overlapping
sets of skills for innovation—often referred to as “21st century” skills:
• specialist skills in their field—both knowledge and methods.
• connections. For example, creativity is generally seen to be an important source
of innovation, whereas innovating often consists of connecting seemingly unre-
lated ideas also from different disciplines. Innovation tends to also require open-
mindedness and critical questioning well-established ideas or practices.
• organisation, communication, (cross-cultural) collaboration, teamwork and
For example, entrepreneurial competences such as self-confidence are impor-
tant for initiating and carrying through an innovative project, as is the ability to
plan and manage projects. Innovation tends to also require communication skills,
including the ability to persuade others, as well as the ability to work with oth-
ers in a team and coordinate activities—nowadays, in an increasingly international
context. In addition to being a desired outcome in its own right, engagement plays
a crucial role on study persistence and can be seen as a proxy for learning’ (p. 7).
These OCED skill sets above appear to align with many of those raised by the
100 7 Conclusion

How this revolution can be effected is with teachers who

• consciously disrupt what is known by questioning the normative practice
through critical reflection.
• remain as learners themselves: curious and engaged in exploration, discovery,
invention and innovation.
• use problem-based learning to foster teachers/researchers and the students
implementing 21st century skills in practice, in authentic contexts, raising the
potential for moral and ethical debates.
• embrace uncertainty.
This educational monograph has attempted to celebrate teachers, teaching, and
research by examining the responses from one online ResearchGate question and
comparing those responses with the thoughts of a group of Big Thinkers. The
sheer number of outpourings indicated the strong desire to communicate ideas and
grapple with issues these teachers-researchers encounter daily. They know they
have to face up to the myriad of changes in students and in ways of learning. The
views of these posters matter and as authors, we believe that their concerns and
ideas must be listened to in order to meet future challenges and promote higher
quality learning.

The Final Word

Our founding author Hélia Jacinto, who composed the ResearchGate ques-
tion we addressed, writes the following reflection to provide some closure to the
This question encompasses a personal concern that had been on my mind for
some time, mainly because I am a teacher enthused by the possibilities of and
empowerment that digital technologies give for teaching and learning mathemat-
ics. By the time the question was posed I was starting my research work for my
Ph.D. thesis on mathematics education, focused on the impact of digital technolo-
gies on students’ mathematical problem solving activity in a beyond-school com-
petition. This is still an ongoing research, but my findings show that the everyday
use of digital tools is changing the ways those students develop conceptual mod-
els that support the development of a strategy for solving mathematical problems.
These students have powerful technological skills that they combine with other
types of formal or informal knowledge to face challenges of the 21st century.
Evidence is emerging that it is impossible to separate mathematical knowledge
from technological knowledge in their solutions, which is driving their techno-
mathematical fluency for solving mathematical word problems with the tools of
their choice.
Looking back, I consider that it was and it still is timely to ask: how are
teachers being prepared to guide the learning of these digitally literate students?
And which are the skills that those teachers must have to promote high quality
The Final Word 101

learning? Fortunately, I was not alone in this concern as a hundred researchers

were following the question on ResearchGate’s Question and Answers section.
In August 2014 it had been viewed over 27, 000 times and collected nearly 1800
I was mostly expecting a debate between opposing factions who expressed tra-
ditional views and enthusiastic perspectives on the impact of digital technologies
in the 21st century teachers’ practices. However, that did not happen, at least, not
in a clear and expressive way. Promptly, a considerable number of posters started
to offer their personal perspectives, often informed by their teaching and research
experiences, acknowledging the relevance of the debate and quickly moving away
from a more traditional view (e.g., knowing how to use specific digital tools). I
feel very satisfied with the interest of the ResearchGate’s community in the ques-
tion but as the thread is still growing day-by-day, I realised it would be extremely
complex to present a summary of the debate on my own.
One of the aspects that startled me initially was that, despite the variety of
disciplines or research fields of these experts and of their country and cultural
backgrounds, they all felt impelled to escort me in this journey of investigating
the skills that 21st century teachers must have or must develop to promote high
quality teaching. Based on their willingness to share their knowledge and exper-
tise, I look at every answer of this thread as a valid and serious contribution to the
I understand now that the question’s formulation favoured the elaboration
of a list of skills, which many posters have offered, which are summarised and
included in previous sections of this monograph. However, a significant number of
participants in the forum were not so diligent in offering stable and concise attrib-
utes for the practices of a 21st century teacher. Instead, they lit up discussions on
the role of the teachers, regardless of the tools available for teaching, while others
challenged established conceptions about the role of technology in 21st century
society. The emerging parallel discussions still offer potential for further research.
This work that is now imprinted in this monograph unveils an attempt to make
sense of the contributions of the posters. But I see it mainly as a great effort of
two active posters and renowned researchers who decided to embrace this task of
organizing such a vast amount of data, with whom I had the pleasure to collabo-
rate. Besides still feeling surprised by the ongoing interest of the RG’s commu-
nity in this humble question—and its answers—I am extremely pleased with the
results of the research carried out, namely with the identification of 23 different
themes that emerged from the analysis of the posters’ contributions in the time-
frame adopted, and the related skills. This set of 23 categories echoes two core
dimensions that allow us to envisage the teacher as: (i) a citizen of the 21st cen-
tury society, and (ii) a professional educating for societal challenges of the 21st
century. These roles constitute two facets of the same phenomenon. Thus, the list
obtained enabled us to describe the personal characteristics and attributes that a
teacher must own as individual assets (e.g., Metacognitive skills; Learning to learn
with curiosity, Lifelong learning; Skills in social and work-related networks),
and the skills and abilities that support high quality teaching in a “technological
102 7 Conclusion

classroom” or even a “virtual classroom” (for instance, Building knowledge,

Constructivism, Facilitating fast critical, effective feedback; Generating problem-
based learning situations, granny method (structure and encouragement), guide at
the side or Participatory learning, playing). These two dimensions of the mono-
graph are closely intertwined just as teaching and learning are closely related too.
A similar impression emerged from the analysis of the contributions of the post-
ers that contained references to several of these themes or groups of skills, simul-
taneously. For instance, critical thinking skills were highlighted by posters when
discussing or referring to other skills that were organized in different themes
along the monograph (e.g., Ability to select, analyse, synthesise, infer, rational-
ise; Building knowledge, constructivism; Developing digital literacy in teach-
ers and in the classroom; Inspiring, innovating, inventing, imagining, critical and
creative thinking, logical mind, problem solving; Job needs and the global village;
Learning to learn, lifelong learning, learning continuously, curiosity; and of course:
Thinking: critical and creative thinking, logical minds and problem solving).
This overlap could be explained in the light of a professional development per-
spective that acknowledges that the teacher’s personal convictions, knowledge and
capacities are intertwined and influence the teaching practices and, ultimately,
have an impact on students’ learning, that is, the knowledge and capacities that
they can develop or master.
It is important to note that professional development is often understood as
encompassing knowledge about the curriculum, the subject, the students and their
learning processes, and the management of the instructional process (Shulman
1986). Interestingly, the posters did not allude to didactical aspects related to a
specific discipline when taught in light of the “21st century” paradigm. Why can’t
we perceive this concern in their posts? One possible explanation could be that the
question itself was too broad and it drew attention to technological aspects rather
than to a particular subject.
Furthermore, the fact that many posters combined skills of different natures
in their recommendations, such as knowledge acquisition and attitudes or values,
may be evidence of the projection of how they envision their own teaching for the
21st century. That is, they expressed their own professional identity. Their profes-
sional identity assumes participation in a community that does allow a free inter-
change on ways of doing and thinking, with collective values and personal inputs
from its members (Beijaard et al. 2004). Thus, in acknowledging the development
of a professional identity, a teacher must be looked at as a whole which incorpo-
rates the personal, the social, the technical and the scientific dimensions.
In general, the contributors focused on issues related to the behaviour of a 21st
century teacher: what should the teacher be like? What should the teacher know?
What role should the teacher assume in the classroom? But, as those questions
were being offered possible answers, we should now start to ask: how can teach-
ers be better prepared for this challenge of teaching for the 21st century? How and
what should teachers be taught to be effective promoters or high quality teaching?
Ask a profound question and expect a continuous flood of responses, some
shallow, many sublime. As a final point, since the thread is an open and ongoing
The Final Word 103

discussion, future work can refine the whole discussion by submitting this list of
themes and skills to the remaining contributions of the thread, looking for gaps or
contradictions that could provide greater cohesion to our contribution.
Postscript: We return to where we began and take another look at the small deli-
cate butterfly yet we encounter a new beginning. The butterfly (data) is far more
powerful than we had ever imagined. We are far wiser for studying and catalogu-
ing it.


Apple, M. W. (1993). Official knowledge: Democratic education in a conservative age. New

York: Routledge.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York City, NY: Freeman.
Beijaard, D., Meijer, P., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional
identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 107–128.
Hoidn, S. & Kärkkäinenm, K. (2014). Promoting skills for innovation in higher education: A
literature review on the effectiveness of problem-based learning and of teaching behaviours.
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Quarterly, 38(1), 77–93.
Jackson, Y. (2011). The pedagogy of confidence: Inspiring high international performance in
urban schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
OECD. (2009). The professional development of teachers (Chap. 3, p. 64). Available online.
OECD. (2010). The OECD innovation strategy: Getting a head start on tomorrow. Paris: OECD.
Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational
Researcher, 15(2), 4–14.
Zhao, H. (2012). World class learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial students.CA:
Sage Publications.
The Posters

Ethnography of the Posters

The people who responded to the question were from 26 countries: Albania,
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, France,
Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives,
Mauritius, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia,
Scotland, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab
Emirates and the United States.
The Posters are in the fields of: IT (Computer Science), Curriculum Theory,
Business and Marketing, English teachers/Drama, Nursing, Medical Science,
Mathematics, Assessment, Teaching Generalists, Visual Art, Neurological Science,
Agriculture, Biology, and Philosophy. There are also Teachers, Researchers,
Research Assistants, and Lecturers.

Personal Characteristics of Posters

Following social conventions, people who meet for the first time do not talk
deeply to one another. At first glance, or word, they chat, learning a bit more about
one another and their beliefs, quickly aligning themselves with some ­individuals
more than others. In the middle phase of conversation, they begin to share further

© The Author(s) 2016 105

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8
106 Appendix: The Posters

ideas and probe deeper with a select few, generally those who hold similar beliefs;
people they also hope to learn with. This is true of online conversations as well
and teachers and students will learn such conventions. The sheer volume of
­participants and their varying beliefs in the forum under scrutiny makes this know-
ing more difficult.
It must be remembered that the exchanges we summarised did not have a
moderator who might have assisted in steering and deepening the discussion
through carefully constructed critical questions. Some posters did take on a role
as guide for a time, but mainly to ask for clarification by example. As well, these
ResearchGate exchanges were voluntary; not part of any assessment or profes-
sional learning directive.
We also noted the differing types of contributors. We noticed that posts fell into
four types:
1. Posters who are traditionalists trying only to tie things that they see to their
education. These posters can only interpret new things in the light of the old.
As the Constructivists argue, “all learning is filtered through pre-existing
schemata.” [14]
2. Posters with mixed and often confused ideas about how to fit the new wine in
old wine-skins.
3. Posters who are transforming skills for the 21st century. These posters are
leading the way.
4. Those posts that are missing. These are the teachers who read the thread but
don’t contribute; ones that we cannot see in the thread. We need to be wide
awake to spot gaps missed.
We see these online forum conversations in the early phases of interactions
that can lead teachers to purposeful change in their teaching and research. Posters
mentioned forming closer collegial ties by writing and working together. It is
our hope that the posters will enter the third phase of interaction outside of the
ResearchGate site to form greater partnerships, offer courage and encouragement
to alter practices with the new skills required and even research and write together
as they continue to connect their global and local worlds.

Most Acknowledged Posters

Table A.1 provides a post-processing analysis of the top posters according to rank.

Affiliation is based on the poster’s academic E-mail address, and does not neces-
sarily reflect the poster’s country of origin. However, this closer analysis of the top
posters from their ResearchGate profiles allowed us to better understand the range
of experiences and knowledge these posters brought to the online exchange.
Appendix: The Posters 107

We selected the top up-voted responses for inclusion and ranking in this table
of the top 50 people posting to our question. The reason for presenting only 50
was partly to keep the table compact. The only purpose of the table is to acknowl-
edge those who made a peer-acknowledged contribution to answering the ques-
tion posed, and to give an indication of the major contributing countries and

Table A.1  Our top posters

Frederic Briand—Director General of the Mediterranean Science Commission, Madrid, Spain
Oceanography, Economics, Ecological Science
Warren Kinston—Biotech company Cryptome Research Pty Ltd, Australia
Scientist, Physician
Jonathan Edwards—Lower Merion/Harriton, Narberth, Pennsylvania, USA
Liberal Arts Teacher (High School)
Francisco Cua—FCC Consultants, Inc. California, USA
Research, Business
Issam Sinjab—Alumni University of Leicester and University of Sussex, Department of Physics
and Astronomy, UK
Louis Brassard—Independent Researcher, Canada
Engineering, Computer Technology
Renata Stefanska-Klar—University of Silesia in Katowice, Katowice, Poland
Ethnology and Educational Science
Sérgio Silva—City Hall of Belo Horizonte, Brazil
William Jackson—University of California, Berkeley (1999), California, USA
Microbiology, Cell Biology and Virology
Katusiime Denis—Kent State University, Ohio, USA
Health and Human Services
Laila N Boisselle—The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Curriculum Theory, International Education, Science
Ljubica Stefanovska Ceravolo—Goce Delcev University of Štip, Štip, Macedonia
Mechanical Engineering
Vinod Mishra—Department of Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Carlos Queiroz—New University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
Glass and Ceramics
Jacob Walker—Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA. USA
Robotics (NOTE: There are 3 Jacob Walker’s on RG)
Lily Giraud—Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela
A. Campbell—Davidson College, Davidson, NC USA
Environmental Science (NOTE Many A. Campbell’s on RG)
Anne Jasman—University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Early Childhood, Educational Policy
Coyote Man (Bruce Plopper)—University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Mass Communications
Eric Lagally—Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
108 Appendix: The Posters

Table A.1  (continued)
Francesc Esteve—Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
Educational Technology
Jon Mason—Charles Darwin University, NT, Australia
Knowledge Management E-Learning
Lisa Thomas—University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia
Social Inclusion, Learning, Teaching
Michael Brückner—29.61—Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, Thailand
Researcher: Educational Technologies
Saurabh Gayali—National Institute of Plant Genome Research, India
Smita Goorah—University of Mauritius, Mauritius
Medicine, Infectious Diseases
Carl Lange—Åbo Akademi University, Finland
Chemical Engineering
Debra Sheets—University of Victoria, Victoria, Australia
Personal data was subsequently deleted from ResearchGate
Dorina Grossu—BITSPEC, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Info Tech, E-Learning
Gaurav Kumar—Shobhit University, India
Pharmaceutical Biology, Medicinal Plants, Microbiology, Herbal medicine, Ethnopharmacology
Kulwant Sharma—Everonn, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Human Resource Management
Mario Blanco—California Institute of Technology, USA
Muhammad Iqbal—Majmaah University, Academic City, Al Majmaah Saudi Arabia
Rebeca Anijovich—University of San Andrés, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Critical Incidents, Education
Robert Landsman—ANOVA Science Education Corporation, Honolulu, HI, US
Science Education
Sanjay Mishra—IFTM University, India
Satishprakash Shukla—Gujarat University, Gujarat state, India.
Education Technology
Shawqi Skinner—Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Bahrain, Kuwait
Sudhanshu Pati—KIIT University, India
Unni Krishnan—DIET Kannur, India
William Lester—University of Kentucky, USA
Alma Dzib Goodin—Learning and Neurodevelopment Research Center, Mexico City
David Potter—Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, USA
NOTE: There are 2 David Potter’s on ResearchGate
Appendix: The Posters 109

Table A.1  (continued)
Devin Mills—Edgewood College, Madison Wisconsin, USA
Adult Education, Assessment
Elzora Watkins—Morgan State University, Baltimore, MA,
USA, Mathematics
Ramarao Poduri—Central University of Punjab, India
Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science
Robin Turner—Bilkent University, Turkey
Community Medicine
Sasikumar Mukundan—Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, India
Environment and Health
Yahya Safari—Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Iran
Curriculum Theory

Education  the imparting of skills needed in the future.

Entrepreneurship  the desire to solve problems creatively.
Global village skills  learning the skills needed to cope in a global village with
international competition for jobs.
MOOC  Massive open online course, aimed at unlimited participation and open
access via the WWW.
Poster  a teacher or researcher who has posted an answer to the question posed on
Qualitative Comparative Analysis  “A research method for the subjective
interpretation of the content of text data through the systematic classification
process of coding and identifying themes or patterns” (Hsieh and Shannon
2005, p. 1278).
ResearchGate  an online forum on the WWW.
Skills  21st century skills and competencies.
Student  a school pupil or a university student.
Teachers  pre-service, in-service teachers and lecturers.
WWW  The hyperlinked and graphical part of the internet.

© The Author(s) 2016 111

I.G. Kennedy et al., Education Skills for 21st Century Teachers,
SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8
References Supplied by Posters

We present in order of their appearance, the Web references that posters posted,
irrespective of whether we quote or paraphrase their text. These references have
been culled, verified and selected as being appropriate to the research question.
1. http://www.nu2012.se/talare.shtml Assessment as equipping students for future challenges
2. http://www.rand.org/blog/2012/10/nine-lessons-on-how-to-teach-21st-century-skills-
3. http://www.evolllution.com/program_planning/general-or-specific-skills-the-challenge-of-
4. http://www.evolllution.com/program_planning/successful-at-the-academy-less-so-at-find-
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HiWEL Minimally invasive education
6. http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/ Hole in the wall
7. http://www.ted.com/search?q=sugata+mitra The child-driven education
8. https://www.researchgate.net/post/What_is_today_the_central_problem_for_philosophy12
9. http://kkermode.com/ctl/MOODLE/constructivism.pdf Constructivism, technology, and the
future of classroom learning
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candle_problem Candle Problem
11. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html The puzzle of motivation
12. http://inderscience.metapress.com/content/t877w11p6671g251/ Deep-play: developing TPACK
for 21st century teachers
13. http://www.thee-online.com the Taxonomy of Human Elements in Endeavour
14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxfire_%28magazine%29 Foxfire (magazine)
15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_game Serious game
16. http://virtualityhighschool.blogspot.com/ Virtuality High School
17. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13664530903578264 International Perspectives
on Models of Teacher Professional Learning
18. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/09/18/computer-gamers-
19. http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html
20. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimally_invasive_education
21. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nORI8r3JIyw TEDxBerlin - (unemployment crisis)
22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

© The Author(s) 2016 113

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SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-22608-8
114 References Supplied by Posters

23. http://www.anovascience.com/STUDENTSCIENTIFICINQUIRYFEATURE4.htm 7th grade

students apply stem to investigate the effectiveness of 2 widely-used oil spill clean-up methods
24. http://rightquestion.org/make-just-one-change/ Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions
25. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacognition
26. http://gse.buffalo.edu/fas/shuell/CEP564/Metacog.htm Metacognition: An Overview
27. http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/33-digital-skills-every-21st-century.html The
33 digital skills every 21st century teacher should have
28. https://readpbn.com/pdf/Why-Do-I-Need-a-Teacher-When-I've-got-Google-Sample-
Pages.pdf. Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve got Google