21st Century Skills: Student Perception of Online Instructor Role

Asmaa Nader Ganayem, Wafa S Zidan
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 14  •  2018  •  pp. 117-141

This research inquires how students perceive the role of Technology Education and Cultural diversity (TEC) instructors in improving their 21st century skills. In addition, this study examines the students’ preferred learning style: face to face, synchronous and asynchronous.

21st century skills include, among others, collaboration, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills, higher order thinking, and multicultural communication. These skills are core elements for modern life and are the focus of this study as teacher critical career and life skills. This article presents the uniqueness of the TEC model, which provides a strategy to develop gradually various 21st century skills for teacher training in a multicultural technologically rich environment.

This study examined (a) the level of ICT skills students acquire from the courses; (b) students’ perceptions of the instructor role in developing 21st century skills; and (c) students’ preferred learning style. A questionnaire was delivered to 99 students, who participated in courses based on the TEC model. Students from eight different Teacher Education Colleges and different cultural backgrounds – Arabs, Jews, religious, and secular – participated in this study.

This study could shed light on the instructor’s role as a facilitator in developing students’ 21st century skills in a multicultural society. This study may provide a model and ideas for policy makers in teacher training programs to employ 21st century skills along with continuous development and adaptation to suit the rapid changing reality. A larger study needed to examine additional aspects of the 21st century skills in the teacher training programs in general and in multicultural societies in particular.

The findings show that students complete the course with a high level of ICT skills, and that their preferred learning communication style was face-to-face (F2F) (45.45%) and blended method (43.43%), over the fully online (11.11%). Regarding online learning, students mostly preferred the mixed method of synchronous and asynchronous (59%), followed by asynchronous (29%), and synchronous (12%). As to student preference of the instructor role of enhancement, the results were prioritized as follow: Higher order thinking (M=3.99), online group collaboration (M=3.87), multicultural communication awareness (M=3.82), pedagogical use of digital tools (M=3.73).

Teacher education lecturers ought to: (1) design the online courses in a way that integrates F2F meetings and both synchronous and asynchronous methods; and (2) employ the wide range of skills in TEC courses that comply with 21st century principles; hence, the importance of widening such courses in teacher education colleges.

It is recommended to perform a similar study using a pre-post method, as well as taking into consideration cultural uniqueness (such as language differences) and group comparison, where we can identify the effective components of the course design that would lead to a higher level of 21st century skills competencies among teachers.

21st century skills are life skills, hence developing these skills in an appropriate educational setting reflects better utilization among all the members of society.

More research should be done to widen the knowledge and address the importance of the instructor role as a course designer and facilitator in order to turn 21st century learning into a more meaningful and relevant one.

21st century skills, online collaborative learning, course design, instructor role, TEC model
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