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April - 2013 - issue > View Point

21st Century Skills Addressing Students' and Teachers' Needs

Rupesh Kumar Shah
CEO & Co-Founder-InOpen Technologies
Monday, April 1, 2013
Rupesh Kumar Shah
InOpen Technologies is an educational startup with a focus on developing quality academic content through intense research. The Mumbai based company has received a funding of $500,000 from VenturEast.

The 21st century skills consist of four Cs – critical thinking skills, collaboration, communication and creativity. Most education boards across countries have recognized the importance of 21st century skills ever since it was proposed by UNESCO. There is an abundance of literature available that emphasizes how to inculcate these skills in students. However, there is a dearth of instruction material that is adapted to the needs of Indian students to address the 21st century skills. We developed one such content that teaches computers and at the same time builds these skills. In addition, it addresses the needs of teachers as well, because they are the delivery channels of the content. We would like to stress that unless the requirements of the teachers are addressed, the content delivery will not be effective.

There is a felt need for an appropriate teacher training programme. We describe the teacher training program – topics covered, instruction strategies used. Besides, we also present empirical data on participant teachers’ feedback and knowledge gained.

In India, NCERT is the central governing body for school education and most state boards borrow cues from what it prescribes. The National Curriculum Framework (2005) elaborates on how ICT education program is suited for life skills education. It also mentions that there is a felt gap for an appropriate and standard curriculum, unavailability of trained teachers and dearth of content that addresses students’ education needs. Keeping in line with this view, we developed instruction material called Computer Masti (CM). These instruction material addresses the 21st century skills in the following manner:
(a) Critical Thinking skills: Critical thinking skills is portrayed by knowledge and thinking process which brings clarity of thought amongst students. Explicit teaching of step wise thinking, logical reasoning, gathering information systematically, and multiple representations are included. These are applied not just in using computer applications, but real life situations and aims to develop generalizable thinking skill set.
(b) Collaboration as a skill is presented through group activities that facilitate knowledge sharing and hence nurtures team work abilities amongst students.
(c) Communication as a skill is presented by the use of modern day communication tools which acts as a media between individuals and groups. Some of these communication tools include multimedia presentation and e-mail.

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