21st Century Learning


“The function of schooling is not to enable students to do better in school. The function of schooling is to enable students to do better in life. What students learn in school ought to exceed in relevance the limits of the school’s program.” – Elliot Eisner

The 21st Century Learning Project is a new program this year at Johnston Heights that is attempting to teach students in a way that recognizes that our future will not be like our past. It recognizes that more and more for our graduates, whether they leave JH to go on to university, college, technical training, or directly into the workforce, most work is done as part of a team, that collaborative and critical thinking skills are required, and that high quality online skills will give you an edge.

Today’s and tomorrow’s students need more than a resume. They need what English teacher Kelli O’Malley describes as “a professional digital presence”. Anyone can update their Facebook with the events of their weekend. An employer in the knowledge economy will be more impressed with a student whose understanding of digital communication has been developed through thoughtful guided practice in the use of blogs, twitter, and other professional online tools. In this project students also gain practical skill with new technology, the iPad, provided by the school district for student use (for more on iPads in this project and others around the District, read the blog of Elisa Carlson, Director of Instruction for Educational Services).

Students sitting in a class often ask, “What will we ever use this for?”. Students in the 21st Century Learning Projectare finding out, as they apply statistical analysis from their Math course to their Social Studies unit on government to analyze votes in the legislature. Then they go on a field trip to Victoria to observe government in action. The costs for this and other field trips are paid for in part through fundraising initiatives the students develop through the Leadership portion of the course. Are they learning the relevance of the course material? Definitely! This integration of the four courses is one of the key aspects of the 21st Century Learning Project.

The content that students are learning is the same as that of their peers. What is different is the process, and the process really matters here. Students learn to work together when they’re given quality instruction on how groups function well, the opportunity to practice, feedback from their teachers and mentors, and then time to practice again. Better still, they get to observe their teachers working together. This modeling and practice of key 21st Century skills of collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving is one of the strengths of this program, and the ultimate goal is to help our students engage more with their learning, with a view not just to improving school achievement, but to improving life achievement as well.

To hear directly from the teachers and students about the 21st Century Learning Project, click the video link below. Also be sure to read their blog at jhalive.wordpress.com.

More posts will follow about this program and 21st century learning in general at this blog.


I am an educational leader, a photographer, a thinker, and a parent. We live in a world of abundance on the West Coast of Canada. I learn together with wonderful people in my home, community, work, and church. My goal for my students is that they leave school with confidence based on demonstrated excellence in at least one domain of learning, and with the life, employment and thinking skills to open the many doors of their future.

Posted in Education
One comment on “21st Century Learning
  1. […] post raises an interesting issue. Even in our 21st century learning program (also written about here), some of our students, the “digital natives” who are highly engaged in using technology in […]

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