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Critical, Collaborative and Creative Thinking

Integrating 21st century skills of critical, collaborative, and creative thinking is another important component of a quality education model. While these skills should be embedded in the overall curriculum, building structured learning lab time is essential to providing learning opportunities and authentic assessments of 21st century skills. Using open source and web 2.0 technologies, students and staff can engage in 21st century learning in a regular basis. Below are some ideas I have used in the past and recommend to structure critical, collaborative, and creative thinking lessons and projects.

Critical Thinking
The focus technologies to structure critical thinking and problem solving will be the use of computer programming software. Introducing the engineering design process at an early stage will help develop the skill of critical thinking and problem solving. Students can engage in design theory, mathematics, troubleshooting, quality assurance, and the scientific method while working on computer programming software. During the learning lab time, students can be using computer programming software developed specifically for K12 environment. Programs such as Scratch, Alice, Kodu Labs, and Google Sketchup can all be used to structure critical thinking and problem solving in a 21st century scientific/math environment. Engineering Design Tools for K12

Collaborative Thinking
There are host of web 2.0 technologies available to engage students in collaborative thinking. For example, lessons can be structured where students develop presentations, canvases, documents, spreadsheets, and wikis to share, edit, and collect information. One of the free tools available today is the private communication platform called Edmodo. Edmodo can be the secure private platform for students to social network and engage in online collaborative learning. Students can share docs & presentations, start threaded discussion, embed videos, and create polls to engage in open collaborative 21st century learning. This collaborative thinking platform can focus on writing, research, and presentation skills of students.

Creative Thinking
Developing and nurturing creative and innovative expression is a vital component of 21st century learning. Fortunately, the technology environment we live in today gives our students the ability to create and publish without investing heavily in expensive studios. There are many open source applications that will engage our students in multimedia editing and publishing. For example, our students can create podcasts and videos using Avidmux, and create posters using Glogster. The tools are easily accessible allowing our students a platform to engage in creative expression in its fullest potential. This creative thinking platform can focus on artistic, global, and ethical skills of students. Here is a list of open source software that can replace expensive Adobe multimedia software: K12 Technology Solutions on a Budget

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