Impact: Students learning through using mobile devices supports 21st century skills.

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  • Date :  Feb 20, 2013
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Impact and Value

Impact and Value
Developing 21st century skills

In her report Educating for the Creative Workforce: Rethinking Arts and Education (2007), Kate Oakley acknowledged three separate but interlinked factors were transforming both education and the emerging 21st century workplace. These factors are:

  • The growth of the creative and cultural sectors with UN estimates that these industries account for 7% of global GDP and are growing at 10% per year. Consumption patterns suggest that households in developed economies will continue to spend more of their income on cultural and leisure activities.
  • Creative inputs are part of wider industry practice giving rise to a creative workforce which extends beyond the arts by making inputs to the industries not traditionally thought of as creative. Arts teachers, for instance, make creative contributions to the educational sector.
  • Skills, aptitudes and way of thinking and working which lie at the centre of arts practice are increasingly seen as essential skills for the 21st century. These extend from team-working, communication and presentation skills through to the 'emotional intelligence' and reliability that cultural workers are said to bring to their practice. 

This creative workforce that Oakley refers to ties in with The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009), a US organisation that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student.  Their framework for 21st century learning proposes five major domains of activity:

  • core subjects and 21st century themes
  • life and career skills
  • learning and innovation skills
  • information, media and technology skills
  • 21st century education support systems.

As well as placing the arts as a core subject, this partnership stresses the importance of creativity and innovation to help prepare students for today's increasingly complex life and work environments. This presents particular challenges for schools which need to become part of an innovative support system to help students master the multi-dimensional abilities that will be required of them. The broad learning systems advocated here echo neuroscientist Susan Greenfield who, in her book Tomorrow’s People (2004), argues that education of the future needs to emphasise context over facts.

Research studies in neuroscience are now gathering the evidence to argue the importance of arts education in the cognitive development of students. In 'Learning, Arts, and the Brain' (The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition, 1990), Dunbar discovered that it is in the generation of novel ideas, and not merely responding to novel ideas, that is the key difference between performing arts students and non-performing arts students. Others are concluding that early arts education is a fundamental building block for developing brain function (Asbury & Rich, 2008). Early arts education enhances reading skills, the ability to manipulate information in both working and long-term memory, as well as an improved understanding and interpretations of text and symbolic forms of language. This accords with the view of John Seely Brown, former chief scientist of Xerox, who believes the arts and design will grow in importance as they sharpen the skills children need to make sense in our increasingly cluttered world. (Xconomist Report, 2012)

The support material on this page details the skills demanded of the new creative workforce and includes the research evidence for these proposals.

This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.