One need only watch an interview with Elon Musk about what the technological future will look like, or search on Google for “technology in the future”, to know that today’s students face a very different learning environment to that experienced by their parents. Added to this are the very real demands likely to be made upon them by their future employers to not only possess – but also to have mastered – the skills essential to succeed and excel within this framework.
There exists an incorrect perception among some that being technologically “savvy” and possessing 21st Century skills are one and the same. They are, in fact, two very separate skill sets that are inextricably bound together.
What then are these 21st Century skills that our students are required to develop and master?
The four critical areas are:
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Creativity and imagination
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
These are supported by:
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Global and cultural awareness
- Information literacy
- Civic literacy and citizenship
- Oral and written communication skills
- Social responsibility and ethics
- Technology literacy
An appreciation of these skills highlights the importance of developing a set of technology skills in each and every one of our students.
Technology affords students the opportunity to collaborate and work in teams that are found beyond the classroom walls, beyond the boundaries of schools and the borders of the country and which are not limited by the time zone to which we are subject. Creativity and imagination become limitless owing to the possibilities of the technological tools at our disposal. A student’s critical thinking is no longer limited to the realm of what is placed in front of him or her by a teacher and textbooks – rather it demands the consideration of more information, more resources and opposing ideas than ever before made available to students. Likewise, the ability to problem solve is enhanced and modified by the vast array of tools that technology now provides access to.
The interwoven relationship between these two separate skill sets – and the ability of Woodlands to nurture them – is pivotal to our students becoming successful in their personal, academic and professional lives beyond their years at school.
Woodlands introduced, and has continued to improve on, the technological offering available to our students since 2013 with the introduction of the i-Pad. In 2017 Woodlands secured a 100mb fibre line into the College, and by 2018 every classroom and learning space will be equipped with an enterprise-quality wi-fi backbone.
Further, the ongoing roll-out of mobile devices throughout the College will continue to move forward so as to not only enhance the technological capability of every teacher and student at Woodlands, but also to ensure that the 21st Century skills are developed to levels that will allow our students to move confidently into the world beyond Matric as highly capable global citizens.
From 2018, the Senior College will be fully integrated with the ITSI Resource Platform and the miEbooks App which will enhance not only the digital learning environment, but will further augment and enhance the 21st Century skills of our student body.
ITSI provides students and educators with thousands of educational titles from local and international publishers and authors to choose from. ITSI offers an online tool to assist educational institutions, publishers and parents to order and manage ebooks, allowing publishers and authors to upload, validate and encrypt ebooks before making them available for online purchase – ebooks can be accessed, selected and purchased with ease, and are delivered directly to the student’s miEbooks library.
The miEbooks App serves as an ebook reader and can be downloaded to any Android, iOS or Windows device. Each user is given unique login details for the app that allows them to access their personal ebook library. Students gain access to personalised content, additional multimedia resources and curriculum-standard material in a single location. They can also access and complete assignments created by their teachers, who will automatically receive the completed task. The miEbooks app has an integrated calendar where teachers can send homework and share upcoming events with students, making miEbooks a one-stop solution for all educational needs.
In addition, academic staff of Woodlands have, over the past several years, developed their own textbooks for use on the iBooks App for iPad. With the adoption of the ITSI Platform, these textbooks are being converted to be compatible with the miEbooks App. This means that our students will continue to receive – directly to their iPads – the most up-to-date digital resources developed by the expert teaching staff at Woodlands.