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It could be argued that what a student fundamentally needs to learn today isn’t much different than what Tom Sawyer, Jeanne D’Arc, or Alexander the Great were taught:

Communication, Resourcefulness, Creativity, and Persistence

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The role of educators has evolved, in that, the use of technology is intertwined with the curriculum and incorporated into daily lessons in classrooms. Additionally, technology has changed the way students learn, and for the most part educators are not lecturing students, because twenty-first century skills and digital literacy has now fostered a new role in the classroom.

Why would it be necessary for schools to teach digital literacy if students are seemingly up-to-date with twenty-first century skills?



In contrast, there is a difference between twenty-first century skills and digital literacy. The two are not synonymous with each other.

The New York Department of Education defines digital literacy as “having the knowledge and ability to use a range of technology tools for varied purposes.”


Digitally literate people are those who “can use technology strategically to find and evaluate information, connect and collaborate with others, produce and share original content, and use the Internet and technology tools to achieve many academic, professional, and personal goals.” Consequently, most teachers and schools recognize digital literacy skills as critical for twenty-first century learning.

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Assessment & Teaching of 21st Century Skills, ATC21S, headquartered at the University of Melbourne introduces a practical approach focusing on critical elements necessary for employability in the job market, as described into the following four topics: Ways Of Thinking; Tools For Working; Ways Of Working; Ways Of Living In The World

ATC21S’ research recounts: “…employers today are often challenged with entry-level workers who lack the practical skills it takes to create, build and help sustain an information-rich business. Although reading, writing, mathematics and science are cornerstones of today’s education, curricula must go further to include skills such as collaboration and digital literacy that will prepare students for 21st century employment…”

ATC21S defined these skills into the following four categories grouped as:

Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes, Values AND Ethics

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Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 11.59.41 AM.pngMoreover, in keeping the “big picture” in mind, Gavin Dudeny’s article titled: 21st Century Skills & Digital Literacy in Action provides examples of how educators can begin to incorporate twenty-first century skills into technology mediated activities in classes for a basic introduction to digital literacy and detailed in the following three lesson plans. These grids are useful because it allows teacher’s to plan strategically, within the framework of short-terms lesson theme’s and activities, while focusing on long-term goals and objectives centering on student’s acquisition of both digital literacy and twenty-first century skills.

Step One: Start with the standard lesson plan, unit of a course book or teaching materials. A typical example looks like this:Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 3.21.40 PM.png

Step Two: Incorporate digital literacy skills and tools by adding three columns to the right of the grid:

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Step Three: Include one or more digital literacies, as shown in this example:

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