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The 'something new' in key competencies:

There are implications for assessment

'Change' is a key word when thinking about 21st century learning (and schooling). In a time of extremely rapid social change, schools have to keep up with the demands of helping students to adapt and prosper in their lives now and in a future the shape of which is unclear to us. It’s not easy to determine what students will need from schooling to set them up well for their lives in the future, but some of the challenges of living in a globally connected world can be anticipated. They include:

  • greater exposure to cultures other than one's own
  • ready electronic access to abundant information, some of it of dubious quality
  • changing patterns of work and social engagement
  • communication methods unrestricted by time and place or the need to be physically present.

People on different sides of the world can work together in real time, or many people can contribute to an online discussion at a time to suit. Some people are choosing to live, for at least some of their time, in a virtual 'second life', where they may choose to be someone quite different from the person who lives inside their physical body. Virtual societies and other technologies can help students with disabilities to transcend barriers to their learning – or can create new barriers for them. New ethical issues are raised by the widespread use of cellphones. All these types of societal developments have implications for the education outcomes and hence for assessment. The table How key competencies refocus assessment outcomes illustrates how the key competencies have the potential to strengthen and transform the school curriculum to help students meet these challenges in their lives now and in the future.

Next – More about these new dimensions of learning and assessment

Published on: 17 Mar 2008