The world in which we learn, live and work is ever-changing, and places great demands on current and future generations to be dynamic, adaptable and agile; capable of embracing complexity and uncertainty, and able to harness creativity to address complex global challenges. 

We cannot possibly know what circumstances, jobs or challenges await our learners in the future, but educators can prepare them to navigate the 21st Century world by developing a range of skills that are transversal, focusing on deconstructing problems, critically evaluating information, and creating novel ideas and solutions.  

21st Century Skills include creative problem solving, adaptable thinking, critical thinking, communication, digital literacy, and computational thinking – and social and emotional competencies including empathy, perspective-taking, negotiation and self-management, to name a few.  These are all skills that are in high demand in communities, societies, schools and workplaces, as we work together to address the pressing global issues of our time. 

At ISL Qatar we use Game-Based Learning to cultivate the development of 21st Century skills such as creative problem solving, agile and adaptive thinking, strategic planning, leadership, persistence, and empathy.  We immerse students in digital problem environments, where they must collaborate with their peers to navigate unfamiliar terrain, make strategic decisions, find creative solutions, co-operate, negotiate, manage team resources, and ultimately reflect upon and justify their choices – all skills and attributes that are highly desirable in 21st century learning, work and society. 

One such immersive learning tool is Minecraft: Education Edition – a version of the popular video-game especially created for classroom learning.  It has a teacher toolkit of resources such to support students in developing reading and writing skills, and to provide educators with in-game tools to assess students’ work.  In addition, it includes specialist features such as Immersive Reader that create an inclusive learning environment, enabling all students to participate in the learning.   

What does this look like in class? 

Our Tech Hub Education team recently collaborated with our Grade 3 department to find novel ways to explore the complex issue of Migration in their Who We Are in Place and Time Unit of Inquiry.   Students worked collaboratively in small groups to identify the things that people need, and the things that people want in the place that they live.  Based on this list of requirements, each group worked in Minecraft to build a town that they felt met the needs and the wants of the residents.  They developed a set of agreements for how people would be expected to behave in the town, as well as the rights the citizens could expect to enjoy.  As such, each group’s town was unique, and had its own identity and social norms.  

With this understanding, students were challenged to consider the impact of forced migration.  Students participated in a scenario where two of the four towns experienced a natural disaster.  Students from the affected towns had to migrate to the two remaining towns in Minecraft.  In effect, some groups had to experience the loss of something they had invested time, energy and passion into.   They had to migrate to place where there were different rules and expectations, and where their rights and responsibilities were different.  Other students experienced what it is like to receive migrants, to have to share resources, and to have to make time to explain expectations and different social norms, and to respect and value the contribution that new citizens can make.   

This experience is something that students felt profoundly, and the rich dialogue, discussion and discovery from this experiential scenario created powerful learning opportunities for communication, collaboration, creative and critical thinking, reflection, perspective-taking and empathy.   With students moving seamlessly between the classroom and the digital learning environment, and with their ability to transfer their virtual experiences to situations unfolding in the real world, student had opportunities to develop future-ready skills; those that empower them to embrace complexity and uncertainty, and harness creativity to address the global challenges of their time.  

You can find out about how the Tech Hub Education team extend and develop these skills through Extra Curricular Esports.