Use Technology Comprehensively to Develop Proficiency in 21st Century Skills


Most Americans agree that students should learn how to use technology. But technology

fluency is just one of many important outcomes that technology makes possible. Now, it’s
time for students to use technology as a powerful and compelling means to learn core
subjects and applied skills.
Technology is “an enabling force behind globalization, knowledge work and entrepreneurship.”5
this sense, technology must empower students to accomplish their own “knowledge work”—work that
involves using, processing and creating information and knowledge, which is increasingly prevalent in
workplaces and communities. Technology also must enable students to acquire all of the 21st century
skills they need to participate fully in the global economy and to manage their own destinies.
Students must have rich and ample opportunities to use modern technology for important purposes
in schools, outside of classroom walls and beyond the school day, just as individuals in highperformance workplaces and other real-life settings do. Technology enables people to communicate,
learn, share, collaborate and create, to think and solve problems, to manage their work, to take
ownership of their lives.
Technology can be a means to access content on any topic, a tool for thinking and creating, a
connection to peers and experts, and a window into other cultures. Multimedia content can make
the curriculum come alive and allow teachers and students to explore content deeply—or in brief,
accessible chunks. State-of-the-art scientific instruments can support students’ understanding of
science, technology, engineering and math content—and help them master the critical thinking skills
of these disciplines. Online, collaborative projects with peers or experts in other states or countries
can expose them to different cultures and perspectives.

Competing and Collaborating Online to Build Knowledge and Skills

The Oracle Education Foundation sponsors
the ThinkQuest International competition, an
online, collaborative learning contest in which
multinational teams of students create educational
Web sites on topics they choose, in categories
such as science and technology, health and safety,
arts and entertainment, and math.
For one award-winning project, six students from
four continents (North America, Africa, Europe and
Asia) created a Web site on the SARS (severe
acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic. Using a
Web discussion forum and instant messaging,
the students collaborated across time zones for
months to conduct research, interview experts,
write content and create a visually dynamic,
interactive, multimedia Web site.
In this project, these students used technology to learn core subjects and develop proficiency in 21st
century themes; learning and innovation skills; information, media and technology skills; and life and
career skills.
ThinkQuest attracts 10,000 participants annually, including coaches, assistant coaches, students and
volunteer judges. The ThinkQuest Library now hosts more than 6,500 Web sites, which attract more
than 2 million visitors every month, including teachers, students, parents and researchers interested
in students’ perspectives of the world around them.
The foundation also sponsors, a free, protected online environment for schools worldwide
that provides a suite of tools for e-mail, Web site publishing, discussion and collaboration. ISTE
awarded its National Education Technology Standards (NETS) Seal of Alignment for
meeting both technology and subject-area curricular standards. engages 300,000 students
and teachers from 50 countries every year. Since its inception, has reached more than 1
million people.
Both initiatives provide teachers with tools and professional development, which enable them to
support students in developing their 21st century skills.


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