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21st century skills: what mechanisms foster them?

Good news! 21st century skills are not about technology and coding only. Competences like communication & collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity are also increasingly significant. How can we, informal educational organisations, become recognised by industry and education as important players for fostering this wide skill set? And more importantly: how can these competences and character qualities be recognised by participants themselves? Is it enough to offer “creative” activities such as Tinkering, or do we need to combine them with mechanisms which make these 21st cenbtury skills explicit and thus acknowledgeable?

More about this session: Based on practical examples and input from research we will discuss how recognition of skills is possible in informal educational settings. Do we have to make them explicit in order to foster them and how can we assess those competences without framing them into a formal grading scheme?


Senior Lecturer in Education
Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
United Kingdom

Session speakers

Cambridge University
United Kingdom
Elizabeth is the founder of WonderWorld Science, a STEM-learning initiative that brings Tinkering workshops into schools. She is currently conducting a PhD in Educational Research at Cambridge University looking at the relationship between Tinkering and Nature of Science learning. She will bring to the session an understanding of the literature related to 21st Century Skills, her experience delivering Tinkering activities, and the research around explicit instruction for conveying to learners what is often assumed to be implicitly understood through engagement in an activity.
Innovative Partnerships
Deepak is an educational expert at Technopolis, a science center in Mechelen. The focus of Deepak’s work in Technopolis and beyond is to raise awareness of 21st century skills for youth through fascination and based on that fascination develop skills to be able to solve real world problems by using technology. Deepak will bring experiences from a summer vacation camp on chain reactions that was geared towards 21st centrury skills.
Alina is project manager for the Association ScienceCenter-Network. As such, she is setting up and coordinating projects as well as trainings on Science-Center-Activities / Inquiring Based Science Education for teachers and explainers. In the context of teacher trainings on “digitalisation” and “industry 4.0” she is working on expected competences and skills in the 21st century. In accordance to that, she is in dialog with stakeholders (e.g. individual companies, industry associations) as well as multipliers from educational institutes and universities.
Deputy Director
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