How can you focus on 21st Century Skills in your school?

It’s nearing the end of 2013, yet we still hear lots of talk and little support for the development of 21st Century Skills in schools. How does your school focus on the development of these essential skills in students? How are you ensuring these Australian Curriculum embedded competencies are given an opportunity to flourish? 

If you are still working on your focus, Microsoft can help you. Since the beginning of the global Innovative Teaching and Learning Research Program (ITL), Microsoft have been developing a solid, research backed model for professional learning that looks at both teacher planning and student work samples to prepare for and develop 21st Century Skills in students. This program is called 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD). The global version of this program has been rewritten by an Australian working party to ensure the program maps nicely to the Australian Curriculum General Competencies and the Australian Professional Teachers Standards. It talks our language, and answers our needs. 

For reports on the ITL Research, see the two reports below, one from Michael Fullan and the other from the research program itself. Click on the images to read the reports.


In 21CLD, through the use of rubrics, exemplar student work, professional dialogue and reflection, teachers work together or individually to integrate a focus on the 21st century skill development in their students. Through the ITL Research project and ensuring 21st Century Learning Design program the dimensions as identified are:

  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge Construction
  • Self Regulation
  • Real World Problem Solving and Innovation
  • ICT for Learning
  • Skilful Communication. 

Educators can find out more about the 21st Century Learning Design Professional Learning Program at the website and inquire about training directly to [email protected] at Microsoft. 

If your school wishes to develop a whole school focus on 21st Century Learning, why not use the Microsoft Partners in Learning School Research (PILSR) Tool as a measurement and inspiration? This tool helps schools develop a data driven, action oriented plan with concrete recommendations for how you can develop this focus. It helps to focus and find out where your school sits in relation to this topic, helps you get focused, then provides a great growth measurement tool when revisited later in your program. An indispensable tool for pilot programs. 

Through the diagram, you can see more of the benefits that using the tool can bring to your school.

The report your school will receive is comprehensive. Below is a test school report. This will give you some idea of the depth and breadth of the survey tool. 

A possible pathway for your school might be:

  • PILSR Survey and evaluation
  • 21CLD Professional Learning Program focus lead by a core group of trained 21CLD Facilitators
  • 21CLD implementation over a semester
  • Revisit the PILSR Survey and evaluation
  • Assess the change and consider implications for further embedding in school practice.
  • This pathway could also be implemented in a smaller pilot program before rolling out to the whole school. 

Will 2014 be The Year of 21st Century Learning for your school? What are you waiting for – click to start your journey