The 7 Most Powerful Idea Shifts in Teaching Today

The 7 Most Powerful Idea Shifts in Teaching Today

“Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth, for a particular commodity, and for the future, it won’t serve us.

We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children. “                                             

Ken Robinson

The need to be constantly adapting teaching and learning to new technologies is a key challenge facing the educators of today. We need to be adapting and reflecting upon our pedagogy to ensure that we are equipping our students with the relevant skills and knowledge necessary to live and work successfully in the 21st Century.

Terry Heick, Director at, argues that in the face of such rapid and radical technological and pedagogical progression, teachers need to recast the way we think about how our students learn and the environments in which we encourage this learning to take place. Heick has identified the 7 Most Powerful Idea Shifts that are occurring in the world of Education today.

  1. From Literate to Digitally Literate

Teachers are no longer just preparing students for traditional forms of literacy. 21st Century Learners now need to be able to make sense of the countless forms of digital media that they encounter daily.  According to Heick, being digitally literate centres upon teaching our students across 4 key principles: Comprehension, Interdependence, Social Factors and Curation.

  1. From Standards to Habits

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) highlights that critical and creative thinking are fundamental to students becoming successful learners in the 21st Century. Under the new Australian Curriculum, students are required to develop their critical and creative thinking skills “as they learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems.” This signals a shift from emphasis on academic standards to critical thinking habits and a shift from institution to learner.

  1. From Compliance to Play

Play-based learning allows students to develop the skills of the 4Cs: creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Such learning encourages student-centredness. As Heick argues, “To not allow learners to “play” with information, platforms, and ideas is to ignore the access, tools, and patterns of 21st century life.” 

  1. From Schools to Communities

Our students are connected to the world beyond our classrooms in unprecedented ways. Social media and eLearning enables students to not only connect to faraway places as well as to effect change within their own local communities.

  1. From Reaction to Interaction

Recognising that digital games are a part of everyday life for many young people, the Victorian Department of Education and Training, conducted research trials to investigate the impact of digital gaming on learning. It was found that “along with high levels of engagement, the use of games in classrooms offers exciting, powerful vehicles that can stimulate collaboration, problem solving, creativity, innovation, critical thinking, communication and digital literacy to satisfy contemporary curriculum goals and cross curricular approaches to student learning.”

  1. From Isolation to Connectivism

The ability to leverage interdependence and connect with others through such tools and media as Wikipedia,, Twitter and Google+, means that our students are now involved in inherently connected learning experiences.

  1. From Privacy to Transparency

The advent of digital and social media means that learning is no longer confined to the bricks and mortar space of the classroom where the types of learning experiences that take place are at the discretion of the teacher. Learning is now transparent, open and student-actualised.

Which idea do you think requires the biggest shift in pedagogy?

What do these ideas look like in practice in your classrooms?

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