A Guide to 21st Century Learning Frameworks

What is 21st Century Learning?

21st Century Learning is a framework that has emerged to describe the skills and knowledge our students require to be productive and responsible citizens in the 21st century. The framework includes Core Subjects, 21st Century Content, Learning and Thinking Skills, ICT Literacy, Life Skills, and 21st Century Assessment. Embedded in the learning frameworks are 21st Century Skills, which includes Digital Age Literacy, Inventive Thinking, Effective Communication, and High Productivity.

Key Areas Defined:

21st Century Skills

  • Digital Age Literacy

The ability to use digital technology and communication tools to access, analyze, evaluate, create and present knowledge

Basic literacy, scientific literacy, economic literacy, technological literacy, visual literacy, information literacy, multicultural literacy and global awareness

  • Inventive Thinking

Adaptability, self-direction, risk taking, higher order thinking, creativity

  • Effective Communication

Communication skills are essential for success

Collaboration, social and civic responsibility, interactive communication, interpersonal skills, personal responsibility

  • High Productivity

Effective use of real world resources and tools

Core Subjects

Include traditional academic subjects, such as Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, World Languages, Health and Physical Education, and the Arts

  • 21ST Century Content

Global awareness

Financial, economic, business literacy

Civic literacy

Health and wellness awareness

Learning and Thinking Skills

Critical Thinking

Problem Solving

Creativity and innovation


Information and Media Literacy

Contextual Learning Skills

  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Literacy

Develop 21st century knowledge and skills through the use of technology

  • Life Skills

Leadership, ethics, adaptability, social responsibility, personal productivity

  • 21st Century Assessments

Authentic performance assessments that measure all components of 21st Century Learning and use current technologies to increase effectiveness and efficiency