modern skills

21st Century Skills: Are You Teaching Them?

You might have heard about the need to teach students, children that is, 21st century skills so they can function in a world and workplace that is much different than what today’s adults have experienced.

The reason for such skill development is our world is now more…

  • Connected via technology and the internet
  • Creative in terms of production and jobs
  • Populated with diverse cultures and subcultures
  • Advanced in terms of service and technology
  • Volatile and fast moving

Getting our children up to speed to deal with and progress in an evolving world requires them to develop these skills:

1. Critical thinking
2. Creative thinking
3. Communication
4. Collaboration

So what do these skillsets mean?

Watch the following short video on each of these skills and how they work together:


The question becomes: As instructors of adults, do we need to consider the same skill development in our courses?

I argue that we do for this reason…


Adults also live in a dynamic, global and changing world. The main reason many people take courses is to continue evolving themselves…

  • to solve problems in better ways,
  • to devise innovative solutions,
  • to create new opportunities,
  • to work differently,
  • to enjoy their work,
  • to live and love better,
  • to support and get support, and
  • to connect with others in new ways.

Adding such layers of information, activities, experiences and resources to your course will increase its value for your learners. In turn, they become more skilled, cope better, are less stressed and have more success in many areas of their life.

Within the following skill descriptions and examples, grab hold of one or two ideas to implement into your course. This addition will enrich it for your students and you (read: less fluff and more meaningful learning.)



Most courses are designed to help solve problems. Providing simplistic solutions might help students now but not in the future. They need to have critical thinking skills around a course topics to reproduce problem solving in many situations.


We all aspire to be a ‘creative’ but what does that really mean? How do we create impressive and impactful work again and again. We need to teach the essence behind the creativeness of a certain phenomenon so students come from a centre of awareness.


Channels of communication are multiplying causing dialogue to become fragmented, lost or redundant. As well, miscommunication can happen more often with the use of icons, GIFs and other symbolic gestures. We must show our students how best to communicate in our field and the vital messages we need to share.


Collaboration is more than having students work together in a course – a notion that does not always work in an entrepreneurial course with students scattered around the world in different time zones, or who have different expectations of how to engage with the course. We need to show our students how to collaborate within their worlds to create positive working relationships and positive outcomes.


Below are two examples of different courses and 21st century skills that could be applied to enrich it.

Hard Skill Course: Marketing to Seniors

For this course, you might want to add one or more of these skill development focuses to help your students effectively reach an older population in the market.

Critical Thinking:

  • Have them test themselves on assessing senior prospects and their potential physical, emotional and mental state to engage with them better.

Creative Thinking

  • Students must devise creative ways to reach out to elders and speak in their language and answer their needs. Ask them to compose 2-3 drafts of marketing materials for this target group.


  • Many seniors are located in independent and assisted living situations, so communicating with health or homecare staff is important to further their marketing endeavours. Show them how to approach these organizations and staff.


  • Collaborative relations in the student’s world would be working with the community surrounding seniors of interest, such as recreational outlets, to provide joint services for their benefit.

Soft Skill Course: Parenting Tweens

For this course, you might want to add one or more of these skill development focuses for parents to better connect with their younger teenage children.

Critical Thinking:

  • Provide critical reflection exercises using guiding questions to help students (the parents) to view their tween in new ways.

Creative Thinking

  • Have students trial a variety of playful exercises and activities with their tween child to increase bonding, trust and communication.


  • Test students on typical tween language, needs and behaviours to determine their meaning for the child.


  • Show students how to work with others in their circle (i.e. partners, other children, close family members, teacher, etc.) to provide a safe, meaningful and healthy life for the tween.

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