A new way for schools to foster 21st-century skills among kids

Be We need to be preparing our kids for the uncertain future and techniques of the past are not going to cut it.

As we enter the halfway mark into the year 2020, it is clear that it is going to leave a permanent mark on not only how we live and work, but also what and how we educate our kids. With the current state of affairs in the world, it has become even more important that we prepare our kids for a world that is full of uncertainty while teaching them values of empathy, respect, and growth mindset.

In the last few months, as COVID19 mandated shelter-in-place, it was remarkable to see how our schools & parents geared up to the challenge and adopted remote learning and homeschooling. This has led to a massive shift in schools’ and parents’ readiness in trying new modes of instruction delivery. To advance our mission of helping schools bring more focus to building life-skills of students, today we are announcing a new 21st Century Skills initiative for school administrators & parents of K12 students. As part of this initiative, we will be rolling out tools for educators, school leaders, and parents with the imperative that academic success alone is not what will get our kids ready for the world of the future, it is the core 21st Century Skills (more appropriately, life-skills), that will. With this initiative, the first product we are launching is 21CS ( https://build21cs.com ) — A 21st Century Skills Platform for schools & districts administrators.

Why are we doing it? Since we started Schoolze, our mission has been to help schools & parents model an environment for kids that supports the development of life-skills (focus, grit, perseverance & more) and help them achieve their full potential. In today’s world, these life-skills are as much, if not more, important as academic skills. (more about these skills later). As a first step towards our mission, in 2017, we launched a family-engagement product for schools. The reason we chose family engagement was that it is directly linked to higher student outcomes — in both in academics and in the development of life-skills. However, we also learned in the past couple of years that while engagement can bring incremental upward change, it isn’t alone sufficient in having kids realize their full potential and be ready for the kind of uncertainty future may have as we grow into an increasingly complex world.

Today, we are witnessing a tectonic shift across many areas of our lives. Work has changed; The way we live has changed even more. College is changing right in front of us at an unprecedented rate. In the future, we see an economy that rewards invention and originality. But our primary education is still hyper-focused on academic achievement by way of conformity, obedience, and standardization (tests, grade). Focus on creative and life-skills building education is either missing entirely for the most part or is present on sidelines (called “after school enrichment.”). This is where we want to bring a change of focus by the new 21CS initiative.

So what does this platform do? In summary, 21CS provides school administrators and ed-leaders a way to build engaging online campaigns targeting one or more 21st-century skills ( see a list of essential 21st-century skills defined by the World Economic Forum). We work with experts to pre-make the templates for these campaigns, which include research-based content with various formats ( audio, video, surveys, lessons & more). These templates are used by educators to launch skill-based campaigns. Once launched, our intelligent backend infrastructure maximizes the outreach in local communities & among parents and school leaders get actionable insights surrounding the skill(s) of the campaign. Without the platform, schools generally depend on printed surveys or google forms to get some of this information with no way to tie it back to the research or skill. The 21CS platform does that automatically.

We are excited about this new launch and can’t wait to see what our schools make of it. A private beta version of 21CS was launched in March this year and we are now opening it for any schools that are interested in trying it out.  If you are a K12 school administrator and would like to join the beta or get a demo of the platform, please visit https://build21cs.com and request a demo or write to us at demo@schoolze.com. If you are already using our existing distance learning and engagement products, 21CS fits right into the existing infrastructure.  Last but not the least, we are also starting a 21st Century Skills audio podcast in which we will invite expert school leaders to participate in a discussion on developing 21st-century life-skills among students. If you are interested in joining the podcast on a specific skill, do let us know (podcasts@schoolze.com) Cheers! References — World Economic Forum

Originally published June 10, 2020

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