Guest post – DigiLearn: Microsoft Educator Community: 21st Century Learning Design

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author: Adrian Ibbetson – Head of School (School of Sport and Wellbeing) 

My name is Adrian Ibbetson and I am Head of School of Sport and Wellbeing.  I am a member of the Microsoft Educator Community and have recently achieved Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert status.  I am a UCLan DigiLearn Practitioner, which is a University scheme that is being piloted in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, and I am on my way to being an Advocate and hopefully a Champion in the future – Advocate and Champion are terms that I relate to better than Expert if I am honest. 

I have an active interest in trying to stay abreast of technological developments both at home, with two teenagers who have mobile devices constantly at hand, literally, and at work.  Our challenge in education is that in an information rich, ever changing, digitally connected world, how do we keep up with things when the pace of change seems to be quickening if anything?  How do we stay abreast of the expectations of our increasingly demanding, digitally connected learners?  And in a marketized global economy where you must be agile, flexible and adaptable in order to survive, we are increasingly reliant on technology in order to remain synchronously and asynchronously connected. 

Indeed, I reflect on starting to write this blog on my Surface Pro, in an internet café in Doha airport en route to the official opening of our newly franchised Sport and PE degree in Changsha, China – and on the plane I took advantage of Qatar Airlines free 30 minute satellite enabled wifi at 40,000 feet to chat via Messenger, and test WeChat, with my family back home in the UK – it’s an expectation but it can ‘blow your mind’ if you think about it for too long. 

As part of my development, I used the Microsoft Educator Community packages to learn ‘how to do things’; there are many packages that explain the features of, and ‘how to’ utilise and maximise, the various Microsoft technologies, many of which have accessibility features that I was previously ignorant about.  This journey was useful in itself – but on my travels through the various packages, collecting points and badges along the way, by far the most interesting packages are those relating to pedagogy and what is shortened to the acronym 21CLD or 21st Century Learning Design. 

 21CLD provides a framework for educators to reflect upon the design of learning and assessment activities; it seeks to maximise learning and achievement and the development of skills that will provide the foundations for success in an increasingly complex, digitally connected, ever changing work environment.  The framework is based upon a global research programme which ran from 2009-2012 and sought to explore the transformation of teaching practice and the impact that such practice could have on student outcomes.  The framework provides rubrics, that are designed to be the ‘bridge’ that allows educators to put theory into practice.  It builds upon previous trans-national collaborative projects such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21 Framework) and Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ACT21S), so there is little coincidence that the 21CLD Framework consists of six rubrics that explore the development of: Collaboration, Skilled communication, Knowledge construction, Self-regulation, Real world problem solving and innovation and the extent to which ICT is embedded in learning.   












It is important to note that the numbers contained within the rubrics are not ‘scores’, they allow individual educators or module and programme teams to be able to describe a range of skills development that tends to become ‘deeper’ the further down the decision tree the activity is (i.e. the higher the number).  In my humble opinion the beauty of the rubrics is that they provide educators with a language, an argot, with which to discuss the issues relating to curriculum deliberation, planning and design in order that skills development can be coherently and progressively planned within and across modules and within and across programmes – over and above the content delivery.  The rubrics are not technology dependent; the skills within the rubrics can be developed without ICT.  My proposition is that there are five 21st Century Skills to be developed – Collaboration, Skilled communication, Knowledge construction, Self-regulation and Real-world problem solving and innovation and that these can all be developed to a ‘deeper’ level by the extent to which the learning is enhanced by embedding the final rubric of ICT. 

The full MEC programmes takes about 7 hours to complete (an overview and then the 6 rubrics) – however I have provided an introductory Sway presentation to provide a summary overview of the main video content of the rubrics in order to ‘whet your appetite’ –  – enjoy. 


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