36 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Do

things every 21st century teacher should be able to do

What Things Should Every 21st Century Teacher Be Able To Do?

by Terry Heick

What should every teacher in the 21st century know and be able to do? That’s an interesting question. After just now seeing this excellent post on educatorstechnology.com, I thought I’d contribute to the conversation. I added the twist of ranking them from least complex to most complex, so novices can start at the bottom, and you veterans out there can skip right to 36.

36 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Do

1. Select the right platform to communicate.

Whether you choose a text message, email, social media message, Skype session, or a Google+ Hangouts depends on who you need to communicate with and why—purpose and audience. So whether you’re sending an email to a parent when a phone call is necessary, or responding in a closed Google+ circle,choosing the right platform is everything.

2. Send large files.

Email won’t always work. You can use Evernote or dropbox; yousendit or SugarSync; OneDrive or Google Drive; a blog or a YouTube channel. Whatever you’re sending, a teacher in 2013 should be able to get it there quickly, and with minimal hassle from the recipient.

3. Take a screenshot on PC, Mac, and mobile devices.

Hit the Print Screen button near your number pad on a keyboard on Windows. Push down volume rocker and power buttons simultaneously on iOS and Android devices. Command-Shift-3 on Mac OSX.

4. Appreciate memes.

Know what it means to be Rick Roll’d, the difference between a fail and an epic fail, why Steve is a scumbag, and who sad Keannu is. (Actually, these references are already dated.) You may not care, but your students do. Even if you choose not to speak their language and instead prefer the king’s tongue, you can at least understand what they’re saying, lol.

5. Explain how and why to use technology to those who don’t use it.

Not everyone loves technology. Not only is it not necessary for learning, it’s not even the most important part of learning (how did Socrates every get along without twitter?) That being said, it can indeed transform learning given the right instructional design and learning model. Communicating this to others that may not use it is increasingly important as a network building strategy and as a tool to be used locally to change culture.

An RT as an olive branch.

6. Use digital media in light of privacy, copyright, and other legal issues.

Terms of Use, copyrights, spam, phishing, age requirements–the whole ever-evolving and hopelessly complex shebang. You may never master this, but don’t teach in the dark.

7. Communicate clearly.

Tone is lost when you type. Know this and pre-emptively address is with clarity, choosing the right platform to communicate, and even smiley faces if you have to.

8. Search for, install, organize, use, and delete apps.

This is dead-simple, but you never know.

9. How to create, open, use, and share a variety of filetypes.

What are the benefits of a PDF over a .doc file? When should you send a .wav file and when you should send an .mp3? How about a .jpg versus a png?

10. Help students share files.

Students need help “turning in” digital work. Digital portfolios help, as can blogs and social media platforms. Learning management systems can too. Whatever you use, help them figure it out.

11. Subscribe to and manage YouTube channels, podcasts, learnist and pinterest boards, and other dynamic sources of digital media.

Self explanatory, yes?

12. Create and maintain digital portfolios.

Of your own work, and for your students. The tools, habits, and strategies to do it well are accessible to anyone in the 21st century. You know, especially if you follow any blogs that cover this kind of thing.

13. Blog.

That doesn’t mean you have to blog, but blogging is the among the best ways for students to survey, combine, and share digital media. You may not have the energy—or desire—to blog, but to effectively teach your students, you should know the basics.

14. Share learning data with students.

Sharing is easy. Sharing visual and digestible data not so much. More on this one below on #34.

15. Support students in managing their online “brand.”

And this starts with what you model–your visible social media profiles, Google search results for your name. That means a professional image, and no cliché quote from Gandhi in 24 point yellow font.

16. Manage your own social media and internet use.

It’s a tool, not an end. Self-manage accordingly.

17. Plan around a lack of technology elegantly.

Not all students have access. Do all that you can to give students that lack it a similar experience.

18. Delineate the difference between academics and entrepreneurial learning for students.

And in a way that doesn’t completely undercut academic learning, but rather contextualizes it.

19. Troubleshoot stuff that breaks.

Be MacGyver with a keyboard. If the Wi-Fi signal drops, the app freezes, or the password just won’t take, have a plan.

20. Skim and process large quantities of information.

Otherwise you’ll drown in the very thinking and resource stream you’re trying to benefit from. A powerful combination to use here? An RSS reader like Google Reader connected to Pocket.

21. Use the cloud to your advantage.

Offline access. Automatic syncing. Push notifications on apps. Writing and composition. Use the cloud.

22. Model digital citizenship.

To model it, we have to agree on what it means. We’ll talk more about this one soon, but for now, these resources should help.

23. Casually name-drop reddit.

Reddit is a downright cultish community of active and intelligent forum users that are addicted to socializing everything. And it’s awesome. If you don’t use it, try to mention it here and there as if you do (#streetcred), and when students ask just smile and nod your head a lot.

24. Support students in finding their own voice.

It’s not as simple as “band, books, or cheerleading” anymore. With visibility comes nuance. Now we have facebook groups of cheerleaders who are left-handed and prefer Fiji water over Dasani 50,000 members strong. Luckily, technology can step in and help–drawing, music, acting, writing, a charismatic YouTube channel; it’s now unnecessary for any student to be anonymous and isolated.

25. Use formal or informal learning management systems.

Whether you use a formal LMS, or just setup a Google+ Circle or community, either can help frame your curriculum for students and parents.

26. Leverage the relationship between physical and digital media.

What is the relationship between the app, the YouTube channel, the podcast, the play, and the poem? This is something you need to figure out–especially the English-Language Arts/Literature teachers among you.

27. Highlight the limits of technology.

If we don’t understand both the micro and macro impact of technology–the good and the bad–we’re doomed as a species to be completely overran by it. Sounds dramatic, but it just might be true.

28. Connect students with communities using project-based learning.

This can be one of the most powerful things you do, as it moves the learning from sterile classrooms to authentic audiences.

29. Model the value of questions over answers.

This shift changes the whole tone of the learning process.

30. Understand how play leads to learning.

Play is not a whimsical recreation, but a zen-like cognitive resonance that rips learning out of the hands of well-meaning adults and seeks to self-direct children by allowing them to experiment, fail, and try again.

31. Use Game-Based Learning effectively.

That doesn’t mean to just play video games, or make students play them then ask them awkward questions about their experience, but to understand how video games support both academic and authentic learning.

32. Curate functionally.

What to save and how to save it? Great questions. And what kind of process do you have to keep from  hoarding digital resources and actually use all the crap you save? An even better one.

33. Record, process, mash, publish, and distribute digital media.

Digital media is likely the future of learning. So, begin the transition.

34. Visualize learning data for students.

This is different than just sharing an alphanumeric digit–this is about knowledge, progress, and the right data and the right time that is packaged in a highly-digestible way.

35. Connect with other educators both in person and online.

Don’t be a twitter diva; don’t be a Luddite. Find a blend.

36. Personalize learning.

To genuinely personalize learning for all of your students in a typical K-20 public school or university is impossible given the current circumstances (unless we have different definitions of personalized learning), and that’s why this is last.


37. Research effectively.

And then model that effective research for students constantly in highly visible ways.

Image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad