March 10, 2009

THIS is a 21st Century Skill

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:16 pm

I’ve struggled with the term 21st Century skill since many of these skills have been around for a long time. It’s not a discussion I’m passionate about but sometimes I’m struck but the clarity of a skill that is clearly new to this century.

Video is indeed a 21st century skill. Take the recent contest for the Best Job in the World. Applicants were charged with creating a one minute video as their application. The ones highlighted on Presentation Zen are impressive. But Stephen Downes nails it,

They are, of course, creative and imaginative and effective. Now for the kicker: ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today. Some people out there argue that such skills (a) are old hat, and (b) not worth teaching. The world is passing such critics by, and they should not be heeded.

Our schools need to re-evaluate how much time we spend on print alone and start broadening our focus. Joe Brennan, among others, does a great job connecting the dots between writing and video. Unfortunately, most of our educators have difficulty understanding the value and nuances of creating and viewing effective video. Even more unfortunate are those who think of video as faddish or no different than teaching writing. While there are similarities, there are enough differences that it requires teacher training to make it as required as learning how to teach writing.  I’ve been using video in the classroom and making movies for the past 10 years and I know I’m far from being an expert. 95% of our teachers I’m guessing know less than I do.

How long will it be until employers will ask applicants to submit a video? Not just for unique and quirky jobs like an Australian tourism promoter but for teachers, lawyers, managers. Any job that features communication as a primary skill, will ask future employees to present themselves in this way.

Here’s my favourite from the contest. A Canadian of course.

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