Skills for the 21st Century Teacher

I recently came across this list of “The 33 Digital Skills Every 21st Century Teacher Should Have” via a link on Twitter.

I think it’s interesting food for thought. I’m listing the 33 things below, but for the full context, visit the website, for the author, Med Kharbach, links to sites for each one that further define and support each skill.

  1. Use file sharing tools to share docs and files with students online
  2. Conduct a research paper using digital tools
  3. Conduct an effective search query with minimum time possible
  4. Exploit group text messaging tools for collaborative project work
  5. Use of screen casting tools to create and share tutorials
  6. Use of online sticky notes to capture interesting ideas.
  7. Use of online graphic organizers and printables.
  8. Annotate webpages and highlight parts of text to share with class.
  9. Use note taking tools to share interesting content with your students.
  10. Learn about the different ways to use YouTube.
  11. Use digital tools for time management purposes.
  12. Identify online resources that are safe for student browsing.
  13. Use of mobile devices (like tablets)
  14. Find and evaluate authentic web-based content.
  15. Use of collaborative tools for text construction and editing.
  16. Use digital assessment tools to create quizzes.
  17. Exploit computer games for pedagogical purposes.
  18. Understand issues related to copyright and fair use of online materials.
  19. Use polling software to create a real-time survey in class.
  20. Use and provide students with task management tools to organize their work, and plan their learning.
  21. Curate web content for classroom learning.
  22. Create screen capture videos and tutorials.
  23. Be able to detect plagiarized works in the student assignments.
  24. Have a knowledge about online security
  25. Compile a digital e-portfolio for their own development.
  26. Create and deliver asynchronous presentations and training sessions
  27. Use social networking sites to connect and grow
  28. Use infographics to visually stimulate students
  29. Use video content to engage students
  30. Exploit digital images for classroom use
  31. Use blogs and wikis to create online platforms for students.
  32. Use social bookmarking to share resources with and between learners.
  33. Create and edit digital audio.

I put them in reverse order for no special reason, save for my affinity of “Top 10″ lists, as popularized by David Letterman. It brings to light for me the rationale behind the order: Is one skill more important than another? I gather there is no rank order here, but that’s just my guess.

I should say, I question many of the things on this list. I think they make a noble list of goals for specific skills, but I do not like the lack of any theme or big-picture reasoning behind the list. I also find a few of them redundant. #s 12 and 29 are the same thing, for instance. But what I’d like to pull out of this is the big picture themes behind some of these. You can do this by asking “Why?” after each one.

I don’t know if they were chosen because of the tools that are now available to us, or because the tools support research-supported pedagogy.

“Why is it important to be able to create and edit digital audio?” I can recognize some benefits of using audio in instruction, but I am not sure every teacher needs this skill. So, as I go through, each one, asking my “whys,” I came across the following themes:

  • Become a curator and collaborator of content. The tools aren’t as important as the “skills” in each of these. There is a strong theme here that teachers can help point-out good quality content, but more than that, we have to direct students towards learning opportunities that makes use of this content. I believe as an educator that “core content” by itself has little value unless we’re putting that content to use to solve problems, or inform our thinking.
  • Know and practice good digital citizenship. Why? We’re models for our students.
  • Model and use tools that can maximize student engagement. These might include the use of graphic organizers, images, video, games, or tools like Google Docs.
  • Help students become accountable for their own learning. Through portfolios, time management tools, and cooperative learning strategies, students can work towards a goal of becoming self-motivated, life-long learners.

Check out more of the content available on Med’s blog. I know I’ll be adding this one to my feed reader!