4cs of 21st century learning, metaliteracy, and observing students learn

Through an email from the P21 site list, I have linked to a course in the 4 Cs of 21st century learning: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration and Critical Thinking, and I plan to work through this course over the holidays. I am also taking a Coursera course called Metaliteracy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World, which gives insight into becoming a reflective learner.

For the past couple of months, I’ve found it challenging to regain a focus in my LCP. Work has been very busy and I’ve been focussed on a significant project which involves creating a digital yearbook archives for NSCC. As I reflect on this project, however, I am pleased with how much of my LCP learning I’ve been seeing in action.

One of the most salient pieces of this project for me has been developing work placements for 6 students in the Library and Information Technology (LIT) program at NSCC. By applying my LCP learning to this process, I feel my project team has been able to create a rich work experience for these students.

Throughout the process, I’ve striven to apply principles of adult learning, or andragogy. These students are adult learners, so we have to be conscious of applying these principles. I have spent time learning what these students bring to this project so that I can build upon their existing knowledge. I have also learned more about their interests to help them apply the learning from the project to their career goals.

I have also focussed on the 4cs:

  • Communication is key: I have held team meetings with the students so they are aware of the scope of the project and where their work fits, and so that they can share their learning with the project team. We have discussed how procedures are a key communication tool in an organization, which fits with the research I’ve found that we have to train our students in the information tools of their fields.
  • Collaboration works best: Originally, we had decided to place 3 students for this project, but 6 applied. I was conscious of the placements modelling their future workplaces, however, and in most of these they will be collaborative. So, we placed all of them in pairs, which gives them the opportunity to collaborate with each other to develop these new organizational workflows.
  • Creativity = Productivity: At the outset of this project, I gave these students permission to fail. I pointed out that this was a brand new workflow for our department and that only through their trial and error would we learn how to develop efficient workflows.
  • Critical Thinking is the yeast:  I have encouraged the students to not be afraid to question procedures, to look at why they are doing something and identify if they think there is a better way. I have pointed out that Communication is still crucial and not to change procedure without consulting with the the team. I have also been drawing parallels to some of the instruction in their program and how it relates to the project at hand, encouraging them to look beyond the workflows of what they are learning in class to the theory behind it, so they can apply the learning in multiple environments.

These four P21 components are intertwined; I’ve noticed that when we collaborate, we are more likely to be creative and to think critically. When communication is effective, we are more creative. And all of this leads to a workplace satisfaction that is, I believe, very healthy!

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