Monday, April 26, 2010

Dede, C. (2007). Transforming Education for the 21st Century: New Pedagogies that Help All Students Attain Sophisticated Learning Outcomes.

Dede, C. (2007). Transforming Education for the 21st Century: New Pedagogies that Help All Students Attain Sophisticated Learning Outcomes. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from

Commissioned by the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University, Dede’s report outlines the goals and challenges that the Friday Institute faces in their quest to find innovative and transformative methods of teaching and learning in today’s global economy.
Although it is not entirely possible to predict what students will need in the long term, based on the recent past, Dede suggests that the future can be “forecasted,” and therefore strategies should be implemented based on that knowledge. He observes that ICT has become “a means of individual and collective expression, experience, and interpretation” in the workplace, but that in schools, ICT is merely being used as a means of increasing efficiency. He also notes that student’s lives are entrenched in ICT, and because this shows no signs of lessening, it is essential that education begins to use it to its potential and educate students about the benefits and pitfalls. Dede also explains that it is safe to assume that in the near future, “almost all types of routine cognitive tasks [will be] done by computers” and our job will be to be able to communicate and think critically about the information the computers give us.
Dede goes on to discuss his predictions about the trends that are emerging in the workplace and what employers are looking for in workers, and how education must look to these predictions to make important changes to the education system. He discusses the ways that education has served students in the 20th century and how looking to the needs of current and future workplaces is essential in designing reforms to curriculum.
He goes on to compare the use of ITC in the classroom to how a carpenter would use his tools to complete his job; making the job easier and creating a higher quality result. He recommends the development of “cyberinfrastructures” to facilitate the changes for these future classrooms. He also believes that these types of classrooms, using emerging interactive media can create an environment that will facilitate this learning.
“World- to- the- desktop” interfaces, Multi-user virtual environments (MUVE), and Augmented Reality are three examples of these emerging interactive medias. All three of these examples help to facilitate situated learning which improves engagement, transfer, and immersion. Dede and his colleagues created River City MUVE ( where students work in teams of three to collaboratively solve the problem of why the residents of River City are falling ill. The curriculum addresses state standards in science and much more. He explains this curriculum in full detail. He also defines an Augmented Reality project called Alien Contact! Both projects use ICT to educate students in both the content standards and the 21st century skills discussed in this report.

In my quest for information to support my research question, Dede’s detailed discussion of 21st century skills that students will need in the near future supports the need not only for ICT knowledge, but also for competence in collaboration and communication. His outline of possible projects that will increase engagement, transfer, and immersion all use highly evolved levels of ICT, and so feel out of reach to me at this point. However, the research conducted to detail these solutions is very helpful to my own. Both the River City MUVE and the Alien Contact! Augmented reality project both seem like amazing opportunities for learning. All of this solidifies my decision to focus on student communication and collaboration. Informational technology will change, as it has changed rapidly in the past 10 years, but the ability to effectively communicate and work collaborative is a skill that will last their lifetime.

Relevant Quotes:
Thus, what we are really attempting to discern is the core
capabilities people will need in the first part of the 21st century – say fifteen to thirty years hence – to qualify for an attractive, prosperous job and lifestyle. (3)

Education should prepare students for a world in which almost all types of routine
cognitive tasks are done by computers and in which expert thinking and complex
communications are the core intellectual capabilities by which people attain prosperity
and economic security individually, as a region, and as a nation. (9)

For example, “collaboration” is a perennial capability, always valued as a trait in
workplaces across the centuries; as such, the basic value of this interpersonal performance is not intrinsically special to our emerging economic context. Arguably, however, the degree of importance for collaborative capacity is growing in an era where work is increasingly done by teams of people with complementary expertise and roles, as opposed to individuals doing manual operations on an assembly line (Karoly, 2004). Thus, even though perennial in nature, collaboration is worthy of inclusion as a 21st century performance because, for the context in which today’s students will function as adults, the importance of cooperativeinterpersonal capabilities is substantially higher than in the prior industrial era. (16)

This is not a situation in we must eliminate an equivalent amount of current curriculum foreach 21st century understanding added, because better pedagogical methods can lead to fastermastery and improved retention, enabling less reteaching and more coverage within the sametimeframe (Van Lehn and the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, 2006).(19)
If we use the conceptual framework delineated above to apply the three observations
about impacts of sophisticated ICT on society (individual and collective expression,
experience, and interpretation; distributed cognition and action; erosion of routine tasks infavor of expert decision making and complex communications capabilities) (20)

In particular, which 21st century performances are most crucial to
emphasize, from the perspective of both importance and relative neglect in the curriculum at present? In the current frameworks of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2006) and similar initiatives (ETS, 2002; NCREL/Metiri, 2003; Leitch Review of Skills, 2006; AACU,2007), which core understandings are omitted or underemphasized? (20)
Potential factors leading to subpar educational performance include individual differences in native language, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status;
teachers’ experience and preparation in mathematical content, subject-specific pedagogy,
classroom management, and student engagement; state and district policies related to
educational reform, the curricular materials used in mathematics, and the capacity of the
technology infrastructure at local schools, among others. Under these circumstances,
individual and collective skills in problem finding, inquiry, metacognition, collaboration,expert decision making, complex communication, and use of ICT tools, communicative media, and representations are vital to the team’s success. (22)

Little time is spent on building capabilities in group interpretation, negotiation of
shared meaning, and co-construction of problem resolutions. The communication skills
stressed are those of simple presentation, rather than the capacity to engage in richly
structured interactions that articulate perspectives unfamiliar to the audience. As discussed earlier, ICT applications and representations are largely used to automate traditional methods of teaching and learning, rather to model complexity and express insights to others. Face-to_face communication is seen as the “gold standard,” so students develop few capabilities in mediated dialogue and in shared design within a common virtual workspace. The discussion above suggests the importance of embedding students’ understandings in performances they can fluently accomplish. In the workplace, employees prove their worth through performances (e.g., collaboration), based on understandings but instantiated in sophisticated behaviors. In effective job settings, performances are part of an organizational culture that includes the provision of requisite tools, respect for all occupational roles,rewards for leadership and innovation; employees are part of a sociocultural, situated community of practice (Wenger, 1998). To prepare students for a prosperous and secure future, educators need to build not just understandings, but experiences in a community of practice that develops fluent, sophisticated behaviors – yet classrooms today typically lack
this type of learning and teaching, in part because high-stakes tests do not assess these
competencies. (23)

Information and communication technologies (ICT) aid with representing content, engaging learners, modeling skills, and assessing students’ progress in a manner parallel to how a carpenter would use a saw,hammer, screwdriver, and wrench to help construct an artifact. The two key points in this analogy are (1) the tools make the job easier and (2) the result is of higher quality than possible without the tools. (25)

Dede (2005b) describes the types of learning strengths, styles and preferences
“neomillennial” students acquire from their use of immersive collaborative media, such as
multiplayer online games:
• Fluency in multiple media, valuing each for the types of communication, activities,
experiences, and expressions it empowers.
• Learning based on collectively seeking, sieving, and synthesizing experiences, rather than
individually locating and absorbing information from some single best source.
• Active learning based on experience (real and simulated) that includes frequent
opportunities for reflection.
• Expression through non-linear, associational webs of representations rather than linear
“stories” (e.g., authoring a simulation and a webpage to express understanding, rather
than a paper).
• Co-design of learning experiences personalized to individual needs and preferences.
As discussed later, using immersive collaborative simulations in classroom settings offers apowerful method for building on these learning strengths and preferences to nurture 21st century understandings and performances. (26)

Reports such as the National Research Council’s How People Learn (Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, 2000) cite situated theories of learning (mentoring and apprenticeships in communities of practice) as powerful in life, but very difficult to achieve in school settings. Emerging interactive media now have the capability to redress this deficit. (32)

One may ask how attaining sophisticated 21st century understandings and performances relates to the third goal of equity for underserved educational populations.
After all, aren’t the understandings and performances described in this paper quite
sophisticated, and is not equity about helping struggling students disadvantaged in learning to master even basic knowledge and skills? But this paper is written from the premise that all students can attain advanced educational outcomes if they are taught in a manner that unlocks their trapped intelligence and engagement by building on their interests and learning styles outside of school settings. Our research in MUVEs and AR is establishing that even the bottom third of students who struggle with remedial curricula can learn sophisticated 21st century understandings and performances when taught using 21st century pedagogies and 21st century learning technologies. In contrast, “dumbing down” an already inadequate school curriculum and intensively implementing instructional approaches that have already failed with these pupils is a guarantee of continuing to throw away huge amounts of human talent at a time when our nation desperately needs this intellectual capacity and social justice demands
that we seek alternative, more effective educational strategies. (47-48)

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Metiri Group. (2003). enGauge 21st
century skills: Literacy in the digital age. Naperville, IL: NCREL. Downloaded from on December 27, 2006

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2006). A state leader’s action guide to 21st century skills: A new vision for education. Tucson, AZ: Author. Downloaded from on December 28,


Stacey Caillier said...

This is a very thorough discussion of this article! You are really mining it for ideas and the quotes you are pulling out should help you frame your discussion in your understandings.

One question though: What is ITC??

Unknown said...

Information and Communication Technology. I guess it's ICT... :-)

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