Sunday, 28 April 2013

Is '21st C learning' different, really?


Yes it is.

It bears stating explicitly – as, although the literature constantly implies this, it is rarely, if ever actually stated; when we talk about ‘21st Century learning, what we are really talking about is the effective, ubiquitous, transparent availability of ICTs for teachers and students to use anywhere and anytime to support teaching and learning (Weiser, 1991; 1999; van't Hooft & Swan, 2007).

That means computers. Lots of computers. They don't even have to have glowing apples on the back of them (although that does help).

There is a growing consensus, particularly amongst educators, that students need these ‘21st century skills’ to be successful today. The truth is that the skills often touted in this context, such as the, four Cs of,

critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation”
(The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2013) 

... are not actually unique to this century at all. They have been core components of human progress throughout history, (Rotherham & Willingham, 2009).  The fact is that much of the rhetoric spouted by ardent proponents of the 21st Century movement is nothing but chronocentrism (try using that word in Scrabble), considering that these attributes were already articulated by people like John Dewey on the cusp of the twentieth century, never mind the ancient civilizations whose ‘4 Cs’ formed the foundations of our own civilizations:

“… it is impossible to foretell definitely just what civilization will be twenty years from now. Hence it is impossible to prepare the child for any precise set of conditions.” (Dewey, 1897)

What we are really concerned with here is learning in a way that is most effective in an age dominated by digital technologies. The information revolution of the past couple of decades has created an impetus, to reconsider what learning should really be about – leveraging the tools of the digital age to ensure that the skills that have been the province of the few, become universal.

What is also new are the actual types of experiences that learning in a medium where screens are so ubiquitous as to almost become invisible, I would argue that these experiences are very different to anything that has gone before.

How? I'll tell you how. These kinds of experiences, or modes of learning are being transformed by...

Situated practice 

Now learning can easily be a ‘situated practice’ in that learning can more easily be connected to specific ‘domains’ of activity – ‘the settings, participants, discourses and dynamics of participation’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Therefore people may make connections between experiences even if the borders between domains seem to be highly delineated, such as home and school. ICTs enable educators to make the boundaries between school and life and work more permeable. This enables students and teachers to develop their skills, not as competencies out of context, but in ways that are authentically connected to other aspects of their learning (Davies & Merchant, 2009; Willett, Robinson & Marsh, 2009).

Access (that is unprecedented)

Digital technologies provide an unprecedented level of global access that is unique in history – a level of access that means the collective and individual success of entire societies, regardless of class, culture, or creed, depends on having such skills, not just a social or academic elite. 

Finding facts wasn't always so easy. it's easy to forget that, until recently, much of the world's data and information was piled on the shelves of traditional libraries. And the rest of it was, “housed in proprietary databases that only deep pocketed institutions could afford and well trained experts could access” (Pink, 2006, p 102). But today, facts are ubiquitous, nearly free, and easily available. This has enormous consequences for how we work and live. When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to use them effectively; it is less about collecting dots, and more about learning how to connect the dots (Godin, 2012).

Teachers are faced with the historic opportunity of teaching students to know what to do with their power to access virtually unlimited amounts of information and to extend their own learning, about almost anything. Learners today have the world at their fingertips in ways that were unimaginable just a generation ago. World-renowned lectures, a symphony of voices and opinions, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities are all a click away. We can not only access a wealth of knowledge online, we can also be makers, creators, participants and doers engaged in active and self-directed inquiry. (Ito et al, 2013)

Multimodality & Mutability  

Screen centred learning means that speech and writing are already being pushed to the margins of and replaced by image and others. The once dominant page, especially in terms of the newspaper and the book, is giving way to the screen (Kress, 2005). Writing is now no longer the central mode of representation in learning materials—textbooks, web-based resources, teacher-produced materials. Still and moving images are increasingly prominent as ‘makers of meaning’. Uses and forms of writing have undergone profound changes over the last few decades (Bezemer & Kress, 2010). Two trends mark that history; digital media, rather than the (text) book, are quickly becoming the preferred medium for distribution of learning resources, and writing is being marginalised as image becomes the preferred form for representation. Users of the screen who have several windows open at once – chatting, browsing the internet, listening to music, are engaged in forms of ‘attention management’ entirely unlike the retreating, reflective modes expected when reading traditional written text. 

Texts are becoming increasingly multimodal, dynamic, fluid, multiply authored and ‘shared’ and, as a consequence, provisional. The humble 'undo' tool is arguably one of the most transformational ways of working ever conceived, it is the one screen tool I fervently wish I could use in real life.  This means that the screen is extremely forgiving, much more forgiving than a piece of paper—it will let you back out of almost anything you do, which is revolutionary when you’re engaged in the ultimate pursuit of  learning. The ability to undo, go back or escape is immensely reassuring—you know that you can always undo something if you get it wrong, which leads to an unprecedented sense of confidence— confidence to play and experiment. Through this experimentation and play we learn and with knowledge comes a confidence in our own abilities. With the advent of the unique attributes and affordances of the screen ‘mending, mashing, and making’ has never been easier – by incorporating image and/or video – these can have a profound impact on the way people consume and create. As Kress explains in his contribution to Gillen & Barton’s research briefing on digital literacies, this 'multimodality' is revolutionising communication (Gillen & Barton, 2010). We can no longer treat image as merely decorative, or even just as ‘illustration’; images are now being used to make meaning just as much – though in different ways – as writing. Generally, I assume that when someone makes the claim that an 'artefact' is 'multimodal', that it's 'multimedia' ie, combining text, image and video, although technically using text and image together is multimodal, but I would argue this is only true if the images are illustrations, not just decorations. The imagery is being used to communicate, to add more meaning, not just make the things look pretty.

Socially networked learning 

We are in a period that could be characterised as a ‘fruitful turbulence’ in education (Kress, 2010). The Internet created a massive shift in how we access vast amounts of information and in the way it enables rapid communications. But the shift to what is currently termed ‘Web 2.0’ – the online tools that facilitate creative collaboration, (which are in many ways at the heart of this social learning transformation) promise to be even more disruptive, blurring the line between producers and consumers of content, and shifting attention from access to information toward access to other people. With these powerful ‘social learning’ practices, (Gillen & Barton, 2010) it is apparent that there have (already) been great changes, with far more people becoming involved in online social networking and online communications increasingly involving more than just two people.

It is this ‘Web 2.0’ shift towards creative participation that is another potentially transformative aspect of teaching and learning. Much of our knowledge arises from social interaction – whether we learn, and what we learn, depends on our relationships with others. Sometimes these relationships will be the traditional one of teachers interacting with learners, but increasingly this involves learners interacting with other learners – the role of the teacher is shifting away from managing a teacher–learner dynamic towards coordinating or mediating peer learning (Luckin et al, 2012). New forms of multi-user collaboration are ubiquitous now that ‘free’ tools such as 'Google Docs' can be edited by different users, working in synchronous – and perhaps more excitingly, asynchronous ways. This ‘asynchronicity’ enables students to,

“learn in and out of school, through activities that start in the classroom and then continue in the home or outside, enhanced by technology that reinforces, extends and relates formal and non-formal learning (TEL report, 2012, p 9)”. 

Since students can express their thoughts without interruption, they have more time to reflect and respond than in a traditional classroom (Shea, 2003]. This ‘peer-based learning’ is characterised by “a context of reciprocity”, (Ito et al, 2008, p 39) where participants don't just contribute, but also comment on, and contribute to the content of others. This practice is already becoming relatively seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the classroom so that dialogue and pupil collaboration can be enhanced and extended, (Garrison, 2004) a cooperative combination of multiple interactions, which is indicative of a new, collaborative pedagogical practice.

Welcome to the 21st Century. It's not about 4 Cs, it's about SAMMS, it is learning which is transformed by:

Situated practice (work anywhere)
Accessibility (information)
Multi-modality (screen centred)
Mutability (provisionality)
Social networking (people power) 

Situated Access that is Multi-Modal, Mutable & Socially Networked


Bezemer J & Kress G (2009). Visualizing English: a social semiotic history of a school subject. Visual communication, 8(3), 247-262.

Brand S (1968). The whole earth catalog: access to tools. Sausalito, Calif.: Point 

Davies J A & Merchant M G (2009). Web 2.0 for schools: Learning and social participation (Vol. 33). Peter Lang Pub Incorporated.

Dewey J (1897). My Pedagogic Creed. School Journal vol 54 (January 1897), pp 77-80.

Garrison, D R (2004). Student role adjustment in online communities of inquiry: model and instrument validation. Journal for Asynchronous Learning Networks 8: 61–74.

Gillen J and Barton D (2010). Digital Literacies. A Research Briefing by the Technology Enhanced Learning phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme.

Godin S (2003). Stop Stealing Dreams (What is school for?). Retrieved 10 October, 2012 from

Isaacson W (2011). Steve Jobs. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Ito M, Horst H, Bittanti M, boyd d, Herr-Stephenson B, Lange P G, Pascoe C J, and Robinson L (2008). Living and learning with new media: summary of findings from the Digital Youth Project. Chicago, Ill.: John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.

Ito M, Gutiérrez K, Livingstone S, Penuel B, Rhodes J, Salen K, Schor J, Sefton-Green J, Watkins S C (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. 

Kress G (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning. Computers and composition, 22(1), 5-22.

Kress G (2010). The profound shift of digital literacies. A Research Briefing by the Technology Enhanced Learning phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. 

Lave J & Wenger E (1998). Communities of practice. Retrieved June, 9, 2008.

Luckin R, Bligh B, Manches A, Ainsworth S, Crook C and Noss R (November 2012). Decoding Learning: The Proof, Promise and Potential of digital education. Online. Retrieved 18 November, 2012, from 

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved 28 April, 2013, from

Pink D H (2006). A whole new mind: why right-brainers will rule the future. New York: Riverhead Books.

Shea P J, Pickett A M, Pelz W E (2003). "A follow-up investigation of ‘teaching presence’ in the SUNY Learning Network", Journal for Asynchronous Learning Networks 7: 61–80.

The TEL Report (2012). System Upgrade – Realising the Vision for UK education.  A report from the ESRC/EPSRC Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme. Director: Noss R, London Knowledge Lab.

van't Hooft M and Swan K (2007). Ubiquitous computing in education: Invisible technology, visible impact. Lawrence erlbaum associates.

Weiser M (1991). The computer for the 21st century. Scientific American, 265(3), 94-104.

Weiser M (1999). The computer for the 21st century. ACM SIGMOBILE mobile computing and communications review, 3(3), 3-11.

Willett R, Robinson M, & Marsh J (2009). Play, creativity and digital cultures (Vol. 17). Routledge.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bloom's Taxonomy - Relevant or Redundant?

It is amazing to me how pervasive Bloom's Taxonomy (1956) remains, despite its geriatric credentials. In particular advocates of TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) are often the most ecstatic about it, keen to categorise many of the most ubiquitous digital tools under it's reassuring tiers – well the tiers of its ‘cognitive domain’ anyway.

Despite its 'common sensibility' Bloom’s Taxonomy was and is purely theoretical, without basis in cognitive research (Ritchhart et al, 2011).

The idea that thinking is sequential or hierarchical is highly questionable (Marzano, 2000), but nevertheless Bloom's categories capture types of mental activity that are embraced (rightly or wrongly) by many practitioners, and are therefore, it could be argued, useful as a starting point for thinking about thinking.

Anderson and Krathwohl’s revisions (2001), emphasise the importance of creativity, although understanding was still undervalued.

Understanding is a very deep, complex endeavour, and not in any way a lower-order skill as the revised taxonomy implies (Blythe & Associates, 1998; EO Keene, 2008; Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).

Cognitive research indicates that understanding is not a precursor to application, analysis, evaluating, and creating but a result of it (Wiske, 1997). Thomas and Seely Brown (2009) emphasise this idea, seeing ‘learning as reflecting, learning as making, and learning as becoming’ with creative play and improvisation as essential experiences – the kinds of experiences of ‘messing about, and geeking out’ described by Ito et al (2008). Wagner (2012) considers the unique motivation generated by creating as ‘the source of all good learning’, concluding that intrinsic motivation is fuelled by playing (experimenting), purpose (wanting to make a difference), and passion (devoting yourself to something you find deeply meaningful). Creating is not a single direct act but a compilation of activities and associated thinking. Decisions are made and problems are solved as part of this process. Ideas are tested, results analysed, prior learning brought to bear, and ideas synthesised.

With computers, the act of creating has never been more accessible – almost anything is potentially ‘buildable’ on a computer, and if it’s buildable, it becomes thinkable, discussable, and ultimately, learnable (TEL Report, 2012). Robinson (2009) makes the point that "digital technologies are now putting in the hands of millions of people everywhere, unprecedented tools for creativity and sound, in design, in sciences and in the arts (p 205).” Creativity is something that digital technologies excel at facilitating - people learn best when they are making things, and sharing what they’ve made with each other. Making something produces something to talk about, reflect upon, and ultimately learn with. Making is an effective way of learning – or as Luckin et al in the Nesta report (2012) neatly summarise, “mending, mashing, and making with digital tools (p 59)”, using suitable personal devices and flexible web tools to achieve clearly articulated goals.

Considering the high regard Bloom’s retains in the estimation of many educators, it could be argued that rather than rejecting (say in favour of simpler and more academically robust paradigms like deep and surface learning) that the process of learning in the 21st Century be better represented by ‘flipping’ Bloom’s (Wright, online); one that views learning as the process of joining a community of practice reverses this pattern and allows students to engage in “learning to be” (Brown & Adler, 2008) even as they are mastering the content of a discipline. This encourages the practice of ‘productive inquiry’ (Dewey, 1944) the process of seeking knowledge only as and when it is needed, in order to carry out a particular task.

Flipping Bloom’s [Revised] Taxonomy (Shelley Wright)

The point is, education has always evolved –  new ways of describing learning are just another just part of this ancient process. From flint and stone, to chalk and board, to pen and paper, to screens and cursors – excellent, experienced teachers have always been effective at utilising the most appropriate tools they have access to, to transform teaching and learning. What is clear is that these teachers need to move away from the traditional methods of teaching and utilise a wider variety of techniques, the best tools, for their students to build their own understanding through real world applications and interactions with their peers.

“To be productive contributors to society in our 21st century, you need to be able to quickly learn the core content of a field of knowledge while also mastering a broad portfolio of essentials in learning, innovation, technology, and career skills needed for work and life.” (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p 16)

Teachers have always needed to prepare students to be creative and innovative within professions that do not yet exist, for products that have not yet been invented, but sheer breath of these experiences are growing exponentially.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

To Skill or not to Skill?

Teaching ICT skills ...

Pickering (2007), found that a focus on skills and fixed knowledge to be acquired was criticised by the teachers in his study, although Daly et al (2009), citing his findings, conceded that:

“Clearly, ICT use demands that teachers acquire certain generic skills (p 27).” 

Understandably, there is a general hesitancy by tech integrators to embrace ICT skills teaching, as it tends towards,

superficial, one-off and ‘box-ticking’ approaches which emphasise the development of functional skills and relegate pedagogical development to teachers’ ‘spare’ time (Daly et al, 2009, p 41).” 

Now, somewhat ironically, the situation seems to be becoming reversed – with the emphasis very much upon the development of pedagogical skills and the relegation of ‘functional development’ (skills) to teachers’ ‘spare’ time.

So teachers are now effectively expected to acquire skills,

by studying manuals, talking to each other, talking to the instructor, and seeking out other locally available experts” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p 1038). 

The problem is this ‘grappling experience’ (ibid) or ‘productive failure’ (Kapur & Bielaczyc, 2012), while a powerful way to learn, if not managed carefully, can become a tedious, frustrating process. "Good pedagogy should challenge not frustrate" (ibid) but it is difficult to judge when it is better to let people ‘wrestle’ or to mitigate the potential tediousness of a long process of discovery, by providing a ‘short cut’. The challenge of managing this ‘zone of proximal development’ (Vygotsky, 1987) is significant, the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by their need to engage in independent problem solving (trouble shooting) and the point at which they know they cannot proceed any further without ‘expert’ guidance, or collaboration with more capable peers, a 'knowledgeable other' (ibid) – or even, or perhaps more likely, students.

Frustration is common with digital technologies,

any given technology is not necessarily appropriate” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p 1040). 

The plethora of software available to do even the most basic of tasks, means that even choosing an inappropriate tool can turn a task from a challenge to a crisis, like attempting to using Photoshop for image cropping, which is tantamount to using a Ferrari to deliver milk. What is likely to occur, is a situation where,

teachers were so caught up in learning how to use the tools that they lost sight of the design tasks.” (Angeli and Valanides 2008, p 10). 

The “cognitive load” (ibid, p 9) imposed by learning how to use the tools was so high, that teachers were left without enough “cognitive resources” to attend to the actual exercise.

Although skills training is clearly vital to being able to integrate technology into teachers’ practice, more often than not teachers are plagued by an unconscious incompetence - they ‘do not know, what they do not know’.  Despite the proliferation of literature expounding the virtues of an integrated model, mention is rarely made of any consideration of a prerequisite skill set, one of these rare examples follows:

“The model assumes the existence of ICT standards [...] At a basic level these would include: basic ICT literacy, such as familiarity with and confidence in using the Windows operating system, basic word processing, PowerPoint and data software such as Excel and SPSS, software installation, and knowledge of the Internet such as how to use the Internet for resource searching, downloading and uploading files, communication via emails, video calls or web cameras.” (Hu & McGrath, 2011, p 54)

Balance is clearly critical here – one where an articulated skill set is defined that can be acquired within an authentic, integrated context. How much teachers know about technology makes a big difference in their uses of technology. Once technology is truly integrated, teachers and beliefs and knowledge are changed as well (Fisher et al, 1996). New pedagogical knowledge and practices emerge from the integration of technology, but only when teachers reach a certain level of technological understanding.

Unfortunately with the pendulum swinging well and truly away from a skills focus, we are in danger of throwing out the proverbial baby with bathwater, an issue alluded to in the recent Nesta report,

the lack of emphasis upon [ICT] skills, is a concern (2012, p 55).” 

When considering what teachers should know about technology, we must consider how much they need to know to even be able to begin.

Skills mapping and audits

"A potential barrier to ICT CPD is staff not knowing what the gaps are in their own ICT knowledge. Many schools have found an ICT audit mapped to the curriculum a valuable tool in helping staff to gain a clear indication of the ICT skills, competencies and pedagogies they need to have." (Becta, 2009, Point 81)

In order to avoid the skills element having a negative impact on learning, at the end of a unit of study, or even the end of the academic year, the teachers ‘traffic light’ the ICT core skills matrix to identify which skills have, or have not, been acquired, in order to determine which skills may have need to be focused on explicitly in other authentic contexts in the future.

Example of a skills audit - post reflection

This is not a question of skills vs pedagogic integration. Teachers and students need to acquire ICT skills before they can start to harness technological expertise for the purposes of student learning. This re-purposing of the TPACK  (Mishra & Koehler, 2006) framework, ensures that the focus remains pedagogically centred, but balanced and facilitated by clearly articulated ICT core skills.

The continued reluctance to engage with this issue should be resisted, as Becta's contribution to the Rose Review (2009) emphasised,"[ICT skills] should be regarded as an essential skills for learning and life, alongside literacy and numeracy." (Point 91) With warnings regarding the possibilities of neglecting this vital area:

“… there are two significant dangers: the first is that young people will develop an incomplete and unreflective capability, unsupported by adult guidance, with risks both to their learning progress and their safety. The second is that a digital underclass, lacking opportunities for wide-ranging use of technology, will be permanently excluded from a world mediated by ICT." (Point 94)

NETS - are not enough.

While useful as overarching standards,  I do not believe NET Standards are enough on their own - they are too generic to be of practical use in ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum; they are descriptions of (any) curriculum, not applications of digital technologies. Remove the token references to ‘digital’ and ‘technology’ and you're left with a description of curriculum, but nothing which in and of itself actually requires the use of ICTs, or more importantly, that could not be achieved without the use of digital technologies at all. For example,

“Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology” 

(NETS(S) 2007, strikethrough mine).

To use the analogy of literary genres/strands (which I find helpful, but you could use science and mathematics strands just as easily) they need to be specific to the nature of the sphere of experience. Literacy genres are, NETS are not.

They need to be specific not generic. Yes you can argue that English literature is a 'subject' and ICT no longer is; this is just semantics. Who cares what we are defining them as now, we all know that just a few years ago 'IT' was a discrete subject, and it still is based on the definition of 'subject' it's just not 'discrete' anymore…

subject: a branch of (technological) knowledge studied or taught in a school, college, or university.

discrete: individually separate and distinct.

ICT is a 'subject' that is now integrated - and should be subject (see what I did there?) to the same rigorous checks and balances of any other 'subject'. The same argument can easily be made for English language, or Science, or Mathematics - these are core competencies that are applicable and a prerequisite for success in any domain in the 21st century. So call them what you like and distribute them how you will - but a broad and balanced education requires that the essential elements of these subjects are not neglected.

Vitamin D (VITAD)

Five Essential Domains: VITAD: video, image, text, audio, data - 'Vitamin D' 

Just like all subject domains, tech has its own overarching domains or strands that are an efficient way to organise the essential skill sets needed for true digital literacy.  We should not neglect opportunities to read and write, for example, realistic fiction, or physics or shape and space in Mathematics, I believe the same applies to what could be called the 'digital domains' or literacies of ICTs, such as, text, image, video, audio and data (with coding/control waiting in the wings) - none of which the NETS explicitly describe or mandate, thereby rendering them useless as a means to articulate the effective use of digital technologies.

Digital Illiteracy... 

An easy easy way to recall these essential areas is with the acronym 'VITAD', 'vitamin digital', now when you're considering whether not you can consider yourself, your students or any 21st century citizen to be truly digitally literate, how do they measure up to VITAD?
  1. Can they view, edit, create, compose with video?
  2. Can they organise, edit, resize, manipulate, incorporate image?
  3. Can they browse/read/search text? Are they proficient at word processing, commenting, curating  texts?
  4. Can the manage audio files, organise, edit, create, compose audio using multiple audio tracks/sound effects?
  5. Do they know their way around a spreadsheet? Can they organise data efficiently, perform basic calculations, use functions and formulae, analyse, synthesise, and model data?
When, and only when you can confidently answer a confident yes to all the above, then, and only then can you call yourself digitally literate!

To put it another way - we're talking about students becoming holistically literate, that literacy has to incorporate 'multiliteracies' including language, scientific/methodological ways of thinking, mathematical literacy and of course digital literacy. ALL of these can be defined as 'subjects', all of these could also be (and arguably should/could be) taught in an integrated way. Just because we've chosen to integrate a subject, does not mean it should be treated less rigorously - integration should not mean invisibility - at least not for teachers. (I'd argue invisibility would be great from a student's perspective, but so would it be for maths and science et al - they don't see it as a 'subject' it's just another natural (for them) way of thinking and working)

What gets monitored gets done

An article published in the ASCD makes this point quite powerfully,

What do we monitor?

In most organisations, what gets monitored gets done. When a school devotes considerable time and effort to the continual assessment of a particular condition or outcome, it notifies all members that the condition or outcome is considered important. Conversely, inattention to monitoring a particular factor in a school indicates that it is less than essential, regardless of how often its importance is verbalised.

"In Sweden, young adults ages 16–24 topped the charts in an assessment of technology skills that was administered in 19 countries. Participants were asked to perform tasks at three levels of difficulty: to sort e-mails into folders, organize data into a spreadsheet, and manage reservations for a virtual meeting room. Fewer than one-third of U.S. young adults could complete tasks more complicated than sorting e-mails, a performance that put them at the bottom of the list of performers from the 19 countries. The study underscored the need for equality of access to technology because major discrepancies were noted among the results for young adults from varying socioeconomic backgrounds.”

(March 2014 | Volume 71 | Number 6, Using Assessments Thoughtfully [paywall], p8-9, ASCD)

The use is not equity or access, it is ignorance.  With the current neglect of skills teaching in schools, despite the proliferation of screens, less and less people are actually taught skills with any rigour or balance, a generation of students could find themselves proficient with Social media, web browsing, poster making and maybe image manipulation, and that will be it!

We have these mandatory strands in each of most (of not all) subject literacies that are carefully monitored because we expect all students to have multiple experiences with these domains during their time in school, ideally in each grade, scoped and sequenced properly. I can't see how a student could be considered to be mathematically literate if, say, they had never been taught how to multiply, or in science, never experimented with forces, or in literacy, never read or written poetry, or in terms of digital literacy, never learned how to edit or use video. None of the strands in these subjects are left to chance, or to ad hoc integration. We carefully design authentic ways to ensure they are all experienced, all I'm arguing for is that we do not allow exceptions, especially not for one of the core competencies of the 21st century.

Put simply, if we believe that articulating a coherent scope and sequence of essential skills in the domains of language and mathematics are necessary, then how much more so in what is arguably THE prerequisite skill set of the 21st Century? 

For a PDF version of our ICT skills scope and sequence matrix, click here.

An example of a section of the matrix... not The Matrix ... or is it?