21st Century Learning: The New Frontier

21st Century Learning: The New Frontier

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4102-9.ch002
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Decades ago, researchers thought about 21st century learning and created different frameworks. The frameworks were similar and refocused learning from low-level skills to higher cognitive strategies. These frameworks called for thinking, working together, finding information, and problem solving. One popular framework, the Four Cs model, included critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, which the National Association of Education promoted. The Four Cs framework became popular at the same time Common Core State Standards were distributed. Districts and schools incorporated the Four Cs framework with the Common Core State Standards. Implicit in the Four Cs model is the integration of technology. Over time, the Four Cs was expanded to include social and emotional learning. The insight from the research helps educators to construct a holistic framework. This chapter gives historical background, defines terms, explains a new model called Four Cs Plus SEL, and suggests future research directions.
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Historical Background Of The Four C’S

Educators, researchers, and stakeholders, at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of this century, started thinking about the skills and competencies that students would need for future career and college readiness. Many organizations and partnerships in the United States, as well as in other countries, not only started looking into the future competencies but also created frameworks for better schools. The goals of these frameworks were not only to design better schools but also to improve learning and teaching within schools.

One of these created organizations was the National Education Association (NEA, 2010), which published a framework that included competencies for students to learn and goals for teachers to teach. The NEA developed one of the initial frameworks for the 21st century. The NEA’s framework titled, the Four Cs, coincided with the development and implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010. To create the Four C’s, the NEA collaborated with several other organizations to create the framework and create new tools for global learning.

The Four Cs framework was distributed and accepted widely. This framework consisted of four parts: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1.

Elements of the four c’s framework


The Four Cs framework seems simple at first glance; however, within each element are subskills and strategies. In addition, the framework includes all the subject areas such as the arts, social studies and geography, science, math, language arts, and world languages. The authors of the Four Cs framework encouraged educators to embrace disciplines not expressly mentioned in the framework, such as economic and environmental studies. In addition, the authors acknowledged that technology would play a critical role in the acceptance and implementation of the framework.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Curiosity: A quality or desire to know or learn something.

Empathy: The ability or capacity to understand or feel another person’s emotions or circumstances.

Resilient: The ability to withstand difficult conditions.

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