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A Course Introduction

Page history last edited by Kimberly Young 14 years, 1 month ago

Unit Objectives:

During this unit, you will: 

    •      activate student prior knowledge 
    •      identify human needs of the professional workplace



As educators, we all know that prior knowledge and personal experience plays an important role in the field of education.  This importance of prior knowledge is one of the cornerstones of constructivism.  According to Bransford, et al (2000). "Constructivists assume that all knowledge is constructed from previous knowledge irrespective of how one is taught" (11).  This course, and its components are largely consistent with a constructivist view on education.   Therefore in an effort to make this course as meaningful as possible, the first step is to acknowledge what you see and/or believe about the world around you.




Activity 1: What do YOU think?

Focus Question: Has the World Changed?


Think back to when you were in high school, what do you remember about the world around you and your school?  Write a quick response to each of the following questions.

  • How were you taught? What materials and technologies did the educator use? Was the classroom student-centered or teacher-centered? 
  • What was the ultimate goal of school? to prepare you for college? to prepare you for the workforce? 
  • What types of careers or jobs were your classmates looking at pursuing after high school? How did you prepare?
  •  What were the values of society? 


Now, think about the world today and what your classroom is like (if you aren't currently teaching, think about one you've observed or ask a student. Write a quick response to each of the following questions.

  • What does the classroom look like today? How are students taught? What materials and technologies are being used? Are the classrooms student-centered or teacher-centered?
  • What are the current goals of schooling? 
  • What types of careers or jobs are students now preparing for? How are they preparing?
  • What are the values of society? 


Take a moment and think about the focus question of Activity 1: Has the World Changed?


Activity 2: Interviews

Focus Question: Are our schools adequately preparing students for the roles they will assume in a 21st century world?


In activity 1, you brainstormed how the world and the field of education has changed from then to now. Even if your answers show that the field of education hasn't changed, we still tapped into your personal experience and knowledge.  Now its time to get other people's experiences and see if we can extract some new information and data. 


Your task:

     Interview 3 employers (any one who interviews and supervises employees) in any field.  For each interview, record answers to the following questions (print out the document linked InterviewWorksheet.docx , copy it, and then bring it to each interview):



Interviewee Title (Manager, Supervisor, Owner, etc.):_______________________________________________________

Synposis of Company/Organization (I.e. What do they do?):


    1.     What positions will you be/are you filling in the coming months/years?
    2.     Are any of these positions newly created? If so, why was there a need for the position?
    3.     What types of candidates are you looking for?  (education, experience, etc.) What skills are essential to possess in order to be successful in your workplace?
    4.     Do you think that high school graduates/college graduates (dependent on answer to previous questions) are prepared for these careers? Explain.
    5.     If students are prepared, what are "good" practices in high schools/colleges? If students aren't prepared, what are your suggestions for improving graduate quality?       



Activity 3. Videos & Document Analysis

Focus Question: Does the 21st Century require changes in education?


A. Watch the following brief videos.  As you're watching, keep in mind Activity 1 and 2, as well as Activity 3's focus question.


B. Browse through the following document "Are They Really Ready to Work?": http://www.conference-board.org/pdf_free/BED-06-workforce.pdf. This document is one that is cited in the videos above. Use the following guide to extract important information as you read.

Page  18-19 Compare the desired basic knowledge/skills of high school graduates, 2 year college graduates, and 4 year graduates.
Page 19-20 Compare the desired applied  knowledge/skills of high school graduates, 2 year college graduates, and 4 year graduates. 



The table on page 21 shows what employers desire out of their new employees when basic knowledge and applied knowledge/skills are referenced.  Based on this table: What are employers looking for in new employees?
Pages 31 + Do employers feel that their employees are adequately prepared for the workplace?  



According to the diagram, where does responsibility for preparing students for the workplace lie? 



How do employers suggest improving prospective employee skills and knowledge?
















Activity 4: Lesson Reflection:

At this point, you should have a solid foundation of information to answer the following questions.  Use your personal experiences, data from interviews, videos and readings to write a reflection on the following questions:


  • Overall, would you say that schools are preparing students for participation in the 21st century workplace?
  • How do you think the social studies classroom can be used as a vehicle for teaching/practicing 21st century skills?


Ready to move on?  The next unit will help you to better understand the movement towards 21st Century Education in which educators in collaboration with communities across the United States try to improve the readiness of today's students for entry into the world as contributing individuals. The two units thereafter focus on specific technologies that can be used in the context of a 21st century skills classroom.  Much like this unit, the remainder of units have a series of activities designed in a way that first introduces you to the topic, and then asks you to analyze, apply, and evaluate information.  Each unit also has a component that helps you make a direct connection between what you learn in this course and what you do in your classroom. 
Click on the link to move to Unit 2:What are 21st Century Skills?


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