A highlight for me was the opening keynote given by Bernie Trilling, the Global Director for the Oracle Education Foundation, and Board Member Partnership for 21st Century Skills. This is a very smart guy who participates in the educational discussion at a global level. He is also a very generous guy who gave every conference participant a copy of his new book (co-authored with Charles Fadel) 21st Century Skills: Learning for life in our times.
Bernie spoke about the power of books, and the role of reading and technology to change lives and the course of education. However, the key 21st Century Skill? Learning. Teaching students that every single day learning will be their central goal. This is a good time to be educators.
Bernie asked the summit to join him in this 21st Century Learning Promise:
I promise to do all I can
To keep the spark of curiosity, creativity and learning
Alive in every child
To help all children
Discover their talents
Develop their passions
Deepen their understanding
And apply all this to helping others
And to creating a better world
For us all.
The other really big take-away for me was the evolution on the textbook. A panel comprised of the presidents and publishers of the biggest reference, database and information technology companies in the United States assembled to talk about the current research and development, and the challenge of predicting trends in such a dynamic information environment. This was a discussion about the academic information industry at the highest level. A few points:
- Gale – move away from highly structured data and aggregating products and indexes – moving to social tagging, full text searching and powerful media rich retrievals that are now possible because of growth in bandwidth.
- Scholastic – scaffolding information to support student reading skills, clickable vocab and definitions, presenting info to facilitate instruction and use. Personalized learning tools kids will need (executive function, goal setting, etc.)
- Rosen – greater interactivity, multimedia, community sharing user-created content. Distinction between authoritative and user created content. Html5 will be a big force in the viability of mashups.
- Facebook groups embedded in database to create virtual classrooms.
- Scholastic – Online resources as digital curriculum supplement or textbook replacement in social studies and science. Reading scaffolds embedded. Bring information and make the content accessible, scaffolded, multi-media, multi-modal and embracing 21st century skills. Equity issues as play with technology.
- Follett – reading is the key to achievement, and it doesn’t matter the format for reading. Reading is still a core skill. Databases are part of the product mix to promote reading and literacy. Expanding product line to include board games that support curriculum goals and standards.
As Bernie Trilling said, learning every day is the single most important skill of the 21st century. I am very fortunate to work for a school district that supports my continued professional learning.