Beginning with the 4 C’s, the key skills of 21st century education have been multiplying, with additions like compassion, culture and connectivity regularly making the cut. Encompassing the core values of 21st century learning, these C’s are fundamental in our understanding of changing pedagogy, and the role that technology plays. A powerful tool to drive these essential skills, adaptive technology maintains a focus on the primary C’s of 21st century education, incorporating each overlapping element in a non-linear path. With others embedded within, the following five skills remain central to personalized learning and it’s efforts in preparing students for 21st century careers and life.

1. Creativity

It can be argued that creativity lies at the heart of personalized learning. Encouraging difference and empowering innovation, students within 1:1 learning environments are given the tools to be original, and to use their innate curiosity and creativity. With the personalized resources that adaptive systems like Fishtree have to offer, students can form their own paths to success, in a way that reflects their needs. With the ability to take a more independent and innovative approach to their own learning, students are empowered to think critically, and form their own conclusions.

2. Critical Thinking

Through personalized learning paths, students are urged to claim more ownership over their learning and thinking. Taking an active role in their education, students are awarded the freedom to learn at their own pace, and in their own ways. With a real-time view of their progress, self-assessment is openly encouraged as a way to reach their goals. Building on their ideas through collaboration, students incorporate social media to take their learning to the next level.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration has been the focus of many 21st century instructional tools. With social media now taking an active role in collaborative learning, real-time platforms have made it possible to expand the collaborative nature of learning far outside the classroom. Offering students, parents, administrators and educators a real-time view of student progress, collaboration between all is encouraged towards their shared goal of better learning outcomes. With students then using social media to connect and share resources and lessons, adaptive systems like Fishtree are promoting peer learning as a key driver of student success. Building relationships based on open collaboration and cooperation, students can use their personalized tools to form better solutions, and make better decisions.

4. Cooperation

More collaborative learning means more emphasis on cooperation. Encouraging positive use of social media to connect and learn, digital citizenship is brought to the fore. Within a safe online learning environment, students can engage with one another freely, as educators receive a full view of all online activity to ensure safety and cooperation at all times. With a better understanding of how to connect and interact online, students are urged to incorporate these lessons in everyday life, encouraged to communicate effectively, and respectfully, in every environment.

5. Communication

Communication skills are more important than ever with social media unavoidably taking an active role in student development. With the help of a secure system that openly encourages peer-to-peer engagement in full view of the teacher, while facilitating simple and regular communication between teacher and student, an educator is provided with deeper insights into how each student communicates. Using this as a tool to bring communication to the fore in all aspects of their learning, students can be taught the essentials of verbalizing their knowledge through open discussion and debate. By sharing and discussing in non-judgemental and open environments, communication skills begin to expand, planting the seed that brings us right back to creativity and critical thinking.

Like what you’ve read? Find out more about personalized learning environments that keep the focus on 21st century skills, careers, and life.

About the author:


Lorna Keane specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Image credits: US Department of Education / CC BY 2.0