21st Century Skills Model – Expanded

In my Post of September 7 (Your Library and 21st century skills or “21st Century Skills”) I cited the Institute of Museum and Library Services version of 21st century skills for libraries. And, in a couple of previous Posts I have cited excerpts from the 21st Century Skill Model regarding just the Information Literacy area that directly impacts our roles as librarians.

Here, I wanted to cite the rest of the Skills from P21 Framework Definitions Document published by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in May, 2009 that outline the other Information Literacy areas that directly impact our roles as librarians. (Technically, ALL of the 21st Century Skills areas of competency impact librarianship, but these more directly.) This is important because librarians need to understand their customers, and how better to understand their customers than to understand what they are being taught in school. Granted not too many are being taught this during school year 2010-2011, but the revolution is growing and SOON young people will become VERY information literate in the “librarianship” sense, not just in the technology sense.

THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION, so I hope you will read it carefully. AGAIN, let me state for the record, I AM TOTALLY supportive of information literacy. It is a necessary and essential skill for everyone in the 21st Century Information Society! BUT, we as librarians MUST recognize how that increased and widespread customer information literacy will impact library services, and therefore librarianship. WE MUST!


Learning and innovation skills increasingly are being recognized as those that separate students who are prepared for a more and more complex life and work environments in the 21st century, and those who are not. A focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration is essential to prepare students for the future.

Think Creatively

    • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
    • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
    • Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and
    • maximize creative efforts

Work Creatively with Others

    • Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively
    • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
    • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas
    • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes

Implement Innovations

    • Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in
    which the innovation will occur

Reason Effectively

    • Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation

Use Systems Thinking

    • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems

Make Judgments and Decisions

    • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
    • Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
    • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
    • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
    • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes

Solve Problems

    • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
    • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions

Communicate Clearly

    • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal
    • communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts
    • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes
    • and intentions
    • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate
    • and persuade)
    • Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their
    • effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact
    • Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multi-lingual)

Collaborate with Others

    • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
    • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
    • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member


People in the 21st century live in a technology and media-suffused environment, marked by various characteristics, including: 1) access to an abundance of information, 2) rapid changes in technology tools, and 3) the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. To be effective in the 21st century, citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills related to information, media and technology.


    • Access information efficiently (time) and effectively (sources)
    • Evaluate information critically and competently

Use and Manage Information

    • Use information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand
    • Manage the flow of information from a wide variety of sources
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information

Analyze Media

    • Understand both how and why media messages are constructed, and for what purposes
    • Examine how individuals interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded, and how media can influence beliefs and behaviors
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of media

Create Media Products

    • Understand and utilize the most appropriate media creation tools, characteristics and conventions
    • Understand and effectively utilize the most appropriate expressions and interpretations in diverse, multi-cultural environments

ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) LITERACY
Apply Technology Effectively

    • Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information
    • Use digital technologies (computers, PDAs, media players, GPS, etc.), communication/networking tools and social networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information to successfully function in a knowledge economy
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information technologies

Another important resource for those interested in more detailed information regarding 21st Century Skills is the P21 Publications webpage. There is a wealth of information available on MANY subjects dealing with education and 21st century skills.

To be continued…….
Next up: AASL Standards


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2 responses to “21st Century Skills Model – Expanded

  1. I stumbled upon this because it mentions systems thinking, a minor topic. But I read the whole thing after almost being scared off by the usual inward focused first three paragraphs, required to link it to other work in this area of expertise, but having little meaning to someone outside.
    Then, ahh, pure gold! This is a really well done list of what has to be done, taught and learned in the use of information. I suggest making the first three paragraphs into a simple sentence then package the rest and get it into many blogs, articles etc. Its of too much insight and value to hide inside an expertise. Publish it widely and let people know who created it. Most of us have no idea what librarians do. This was shockingly good. Why hide it?

    • Michael, thanks for the kind words and helpful insight. If you think this reflects what public librarians ought to be doing, wait for the next Post about what school librarians are actually teaching kids today.

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