Preparing students for a 21st Century knowledge economy

Preparing students for a 21st Century knowledge economy

Summary: Angela Maiers and I are going to be addressing one of the biggest challenges facing today's schools, educators, students, parents, and even businesses in this live webcast.

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TOPICS: CXO
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In about an hour, I'm going to be doing a webcast over on ZDNet's sister site, TechRepublic, with Angela Maiers. We're going to be addressing one of the biggest challenges facing today's schools, educators, students, parents, and even businesses. In a nutshell, things have changed. A lot. Not just in the last few years (which have seen remarkable evolution in our economy, international government structures, and technology, all of which are interconnected) but in the last 100 years since our current system of education was put in place.

"Global economy", "flat world", "knowledge economy", and "21st Century Skills" are all phrases we throw around, but too often students walk out of high school with no better understanding of the ways in which we are interconnected and collaborate in a business setting than their parents did (and, obviously, their parents didn't understand it at all, since the sort of communication/collaboration revolution in which we're living didn't exist when they graduated).

There are very tough questions surrounding the modern education reform movement, not all of which actually addresses global competitiveness in the way that it should. Angela and I will be talking today about some of those questions and, hopefully, getting viewers and readers to begin thinking about their own answers, if they haven't already:

  1. Are standardized tests (both international and those from the No Child Left Behind era) good measures of our educational system in the context of a "knowledge economy?"
  2. What is a "knowledge economy" as it relates to students and the job market they'll be facing in the next several years?
  3. How does globalization relate to the way we educate our students?
  4. How do you teach leadership, creativity, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship?
  5. Is everything we're doing too little, too late?

To hear our answers to these and several other questions, join us for the TechRepublic live webcast, "How Do We Prepare Students for a Global Knowledge Economy?" at 2pm Eastern today.

Topic: CXO

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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    I think in an age where centralized media and social media memes promote such uniformity, teaching independent thinking is more important than ever. We can't blindly assume the trend of globalization will continue. Environmental and energy factors may just push us to more local circles operationally even if global communications continue strengthen. Are we educating our kids the skills to have traditional jobs and not just cyber ones?
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  • Hmmm

    "21st Century Learning isn't about making better PowerPoints" (source: techrepublic)

    Seems a tad contradictory, and even the much-lauded concept of "competition" involves innovation and doing (whatever) better...

    Yes, phrases are thrown around and students are not learning anything... mostly because the instructors don't know what to do with the buzzwords and are more concerned with their own paychecks, which also happen shrink along with everyone else's...

    And it is too little too late. Even television in the 1960s tells upfront the obvious: You can't just be creative at the flick of two fingers. You won't wake up one day and say "I will be creative!" because real life does not work that day.

    Even then, it's not creativity but marketability and how to convince people to buy your product. Microsoft, with Windows, found the marketing opportunity while everyone else was arguably making better products (The 1990s alone had competition and innovation with Win 3.x vs MacOS, TOS, Workbench, etc... yet the puniest of them all, despite being the most bloated, was the most successful... not due to Win 3.x being better by any means, they had the marketing channel and some very solid (if not predatory) licensing that helped Microsoft eke out some more money... one example, of many, would be the ZDnet UK article entitled "the-legacy-of-microsofts-1994-consent-decree" )

    Never mind politicians giving taxpayer-funded handouts to companies that offshore, workers forced to train their own replacements, and other issues, this "21st century preparation" seems to be of secondary relevance at best, given how the fundamentals of the economy were driven by companies compelling government to give them free rides instead of anything approaching "free market values"...

    Never mind other elements of history and the middle class...

    Things just aren't adding up. This webinar, forgive me, seems like a distraction or non-sequitur, but I would rather say it is a useful presentation, even if it is discussing secondary issues.
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  • My answers

    I've taught K12 in the past, have worked in central district offices technology, higher ed technical support, and now data services in K16. The questions you ask are good, and not necessarily all of the possible questions to make it worthwhile to determine what students need to learn.

    Here's my short answers to your questions. I can't answer longer because answering each could be the subject for a research study.

    1. In short, no. They measure primarily Bloom's analytic taxonomy level, and not the higher synthesis levels needed for a knowledge economy.
    2. Over the short term (5-10 years) the knowledge economy will center around the analysis of data and how to implement those results for maximum impact to their personal income and their positions in the world. A further complicating factor is the move from structured data to the realm of unstructured big data.
    3. Like another poster, I'm not sure that we should be focusing on globalization. Yes we need to realize that education has an element of globalization (learn a second language, study the history and culture of other countries), but we need to be teaching students to be local producers. I believe that we are close the top of the globalization curve in businesses and in the next 5-10 years will see businesses merge the globalization into a more local approach. People are more concerned with their bottom line than what someone else in another country is doing, but they will sell to that country if it benefits their needs.
    4. I wish this was simply done. It's not. Some people have that inborn spark for any of these. Others don't. And still others don't realize what they have until they've had the opportunity to experience each of these skills. The best way I've ever found is just to provide the opportunity for students and see what sticks.
    5. Never. Disney once said "Around here, however, we dont look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." As long as we keep making the attempt to improve and do our very best not to get discouraged, we can succeed.
    brentgee
  • And Things Are Going to Change Again

    Radically. Our Economy is going to go belly up. We are 15 trillion in debt with no chance of paying it off. This will cause our economy to shift from knowledge back to basic production because we will not be able to afford to purchase foreign products.
    TheSaint777
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