Category #1 – Reflective Journal Entry
Our societies and economies have experienced a profound transformation from reliance on an industrial to a knowledge base. Global drivers increasingly bring to the fore what some call “21st century competencies” – including deep understanding, flexibility, and the capacity to make creative connections, a range of so-called “soft-skills” including good team working. The quantity and quality of learning thus become central, with the accompanying concern that traditional educational approaches are insufficient.” Dumont and Istane (2010)
I really like this quote. We always talk about the 21st century and how different things are from the past and our new knowledge economy where information increases as does our speed of access to it. Soft skills include good teamwork but also other things such as getting along with others, ethics and often referred to as people skills.
There is often discussion around emotional intelligence where the leaders of companies and projects for example need the soft and hard skills to do their jobs. As an educator it is important for me to keep up to the changes that surround me in the new economy where classrooms are flipped (videos are for homework and the students come to class to demonstrate understanding. – P.5 Merriam and Bierema) and people talk about bringing their own devices for example. Collectively educators need to look at these trends, understand them and make changes to the way we teach so the leaders of tomorrow will have the skills required to compete effectively. As educators we need to help our students to develop the skills to access current and reliable information, critically analyze it and be able to use that information in a logical and effective way.
There is a greater need for instructors to help students be more creative in how they learn. They need to know how to learn as the game changes so quickly. A quote in the book noted that “most professional preparation becomes outdated before one gets situated in a career. Hewlett Packard has estimated that what one learns in a Bachelor of Engineering Program is outdated or “deconstructs itself in 18 months and for the technology fields the half life is even less. Students need to be prepared as self-directed, lifelong learners “for jobs that do not yet exist, to use technologies that have not been invented, and to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet” (Darling-Hammond et all 2008 P.2 )(Quoted on P.5 Merriam and Bierema) They must be prepared to continually advance their knowledge and skills. They will be expected to keep pace with rapid changes and apply their knowledge and skills to diverse situations and environments. What employers want are employees who can process information, understand what is happening, be creative problem solvers, and make good decisions often with limited information.
Soft skills are also important for instructors to foster in students. Good teamwork is important for example and they need to work in groups effectively. Being more team oriented in the workplace means as educators we need to help our students develop skills that will allow them to work well in groups. This is often a challenge as some have been victims of bad groups for numerous reasons in the past and prefer to work solo.
Acquiring knowledge is important but that information can become outdated very quickly.
It is essential for people to be able to identify reliable and valid sources of information and to critically think and question the information in front of them. Technology has also allowed us to work with others much more easily and many of us are on the “cloud”. Skype puts us right there in the room. We can work on projects with others almost anywhere in the world. There are challenges though with working with a diverse team as there is a greater chance of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Soft skills become more important so that team members can be respectful and sensitive to differences like age, cultural, etc. when working with each other.
There can be more than one goal when helping students to learn. Meeting the learning objective is just part of what can be taught. How students learn can help them to develop valuable skills in the future and we need as educators to address any gaps required in the 21st Century through learning ourselves how to be more effective. We need to be ahead of that curve.
Dumont, H., Istance, D. & Benavides, F. (2010) The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice. Paris: OECD.
Merriam, S.B., & Bierema, L.L. (2014). Jossey-Bass Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice.