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Welcome to 21st Century Learning

The 20th-century classroom was time-based, focusing on rote memorization of discrete facts, primarily engaging students in the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, and application. The content was textbook-driven, resulting in passive learning within the confines of a classroom. The approach was teacher-centered, with little student freedom, often leading to discipline issues and a fragmented curriculum. Grades were averaged, expectations were low, and the curriculum was often disconnected from students’ interests. Learning was assessed through print, diversity was ignored, and literacy was focused on reading, writing, and math. Education followed a factory model driven by standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.

Conversely, the 21st-century classroom is outcome-based, concentrating on what students know, can do, and their characteristics once they’ve forgotten details. Learning targets higher-order thinking skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy, including synthesis, analysis, and evaluation. Students actively engage in research-driven learning, often in a global classroom setting that promotes collaboration. The teacher’s role has evolved into that of a facilitator, offering students significant freedom and fostering a mutually respectful learning environment. The curriculum is integrated and interdisciplinary, and assessment is based on actual learning, not just average grades. High expectations are set for all, with individual pathways for advanced learners. Students’ work is assessed by various stakeholders, including peers, and is connected to real-world applications. Multiple forms of media are now used for learning and assessment, addressing student diversity and promoting multiple literacies for the 21st century. The educational model is global, preparing students for a high-tech society, and while standardized testing remains, it no longer solely drives education.

20th Century Classroom Qualities21st Century Classroom Qualities 
Focus:  rote memorization of discrete factsFocus:  What students know, can do, and learn after all the details are forgotten. 
Lessons focus on the lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – knowledge, comprehension, and application.Learning is designed on upper levels of Blooms’ – synthesis, analysis, and evaluation (and include lower levels as curriculum is designed down from the top.) 
Textbook-driven (content comes from textbooks)Learning is designed on upper levels of Bloom’s – synthesis, analysis, and evaluation (and include lower levels as the curriculum is designed down from the top.) 
Passive learningActive Learning 
Learners work in isolation – in a classroom with four wallsLearners work collaboratively with classmates and others around the county and the world – the Global Classroom 
Teacher-centered:  The teacher is the center of attention and provider of information.Research-driven (content comes from student research using modern applications, including AI) 
Little to no student freedomA great deal of student freedom 
“Discipline problems” – educators do not trust students and vice versa.  No student motivation.No “discipline problems” – students and teachers have mutually respectful relationships as co-learners; students are highly motivated. 
Fragmented curriculumIntegrated and Interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates VR and immersive learning 
Grades averagedGrades based on what was learned. Takes a personalized learning approach. 
Low expectationsHigh expectations – “If it isn’t good, it isn’t done.”  We expect and ensure all students succeed in learning at high levels.  Some students will achieve more – educators get out of their way to let them do that. 
The teacher is the judge.  No one else sees student work.Self, peer, and other assessments.  Public audience, authentic assessments. 
Curriculum/School is irrelevant and meaningless to the students.Curriculum is connected to students’ interests, experiences, talents, and the real world. 
Print is the primary vehicle of learning and assessment.Performances, projects, and multiple forms of media, including gamification, AR, and augmented reality, used for learning and assessment 
Diversity in students is ignored.Curriculum and instruction address student diversity 
Literacy is the 3 R’s – reading, writing, and mathMultiple literacies of the 21st century – aligned to living and working in a globalized new millennium. 
Student-centered:  The teacher is the facilitator/coach.Global model, based upon the needs of a globalized, high-tech society. 
Driven by the NCLB and standardized testing mania.Standardized testing has its place.  The NCLB and standardized testing mania do not drive education. 

Excel Education Systems is dedicated to providing learning systems using multiple modalities designed to educate the 21st-century learner. If your school or business is in need of a modern learning system, let’s connect and see how Excel Education Systems can support your initiatives.