EDUC 587

Week Two: Preparing Students for the 21st Century Workplace through Technology Use and Making

As technology rapidly evolves and changes, so too does the workplace our students will enter in the 2020s and beyond. Because teachers attempt to foster college and career readiness within their students, they must constantly expand their classroom and professional practices. This “revolution in learning” (Holt & Brockett, 2012, p. 2075) must include these new technologies in order to build the competencies that will benefit students in 21st century workplaces and spaces. Holt and Brockett (2012) name self-direction and technology use as “increasingly important skills for the 21st century workforce” (p. 2075). Their research student envisions technology use as influenced by three factors: “computer self-efficacy, attitudes toward technology use, and computer anxiety” (p. 2076). Yoo and MacDonald (2014) include “thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, leadership, and management” as skills required by the 21st century workplace. How, then, do we build these competencies through pedagogy and professional practice?

McCoy (2010) found that a simple path toward “enhanc[ing] computer skills and increas[ing] self-efficacy” was exposure to technology, which she measured through whether students had access to a computer at home (p. 1617). She recommends “providing laptop computers to students without computer access at home” as a “viable solution” that schools can take to increase students’ access and exposure to technology and therefore their technology skills and self-efficacy (p. 1617). This exposure would also remedy the computer anxiety that Holt and Brockett mention as computer anxiety can be “treat[ed]… by providing computer experience” (Holt & Brockett, 2012, p. 2076).

Martinez and Stager (2019) propose making in the classroom, carving out makerspaces in schools, and constructivism as a progressive shift educators can make to better prepare students for these new, demanding workplaces and build the necessary skills. In these spaces, students can shift from simple comfort with technology to being empowered to use technology to remix and create. They write that the “skills, social capital, and dispositions developed as makers may serve them for a lifetime” and that making “combines disciplines in ways that enhance the learning process for diverse student populations and opens doors to unforeseen career paths” (p. 3). As students tinker, prototype, and engineer solutions and products through making, they develop comfort with technology and practice self-directed learning as well as problem solve and manage complex, multi-step projects.

Broadly speaking, the ideal implementation of educational technology shifts classrooms towards constructivist ideals. In those spaces, learning is “student centered, collaborative, minds-on, authentic an action packed” (Gilakjani, Leong, & Ismail, 2013, p. 50). These adjectives might also be used to describe the 21st century workplace. It’s imperative that we, as educator, respond to these demands in our classrooms.


Gilakjani, A. P., Leong, L.-M., & Ismail, H. N. (2013, May). Teachers’ use of technology and constructivism. International Journal of Modern Education and Computer Science, 4, 49-63. doi:10.5815/ijmecs.2013.04.07

Holt, L., & Brockett, R. G. (2012). Self direction and factors influencing technology use: Examining the relationships for the 21st century workplace. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 2075-2082. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.06.011

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2019). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom (2nd ed.). Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

McCoy, C. (2010, December). Perceived self-efficacy and technology proficiency in undergraduate college students. Computers & Education, 55(4), 1614-1617. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.07.003

Yoo, J.-J., & MacDonald, N. M. (2014). Developing 21st cenutry process skills through project design. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 106(3), 22-27.

One reply on “Week Two: Preparing Students for the 21st Century Workplace through Technology Use and Making”

I wholeheartedly agree that classrooms need to make a shift in order to best prepare students to the workforce of the future. Creating student-centered spaces where students can collaborate, have time to create and work on hands-on tasks that are student-driven is critical. Students need to feel empowered to take ownership of their learning to be most successful.
This shift will require educators to see the value in this work and learning. They will need to move away from the traditional schooling and making which was nicely laid out on page xviii of Invent to Learn. I feel as though some teachers feel that students already know enough about technology that it doesn’t need to be taught; however, you can’t just add in technology with the same old teaching practices. We need to have students interact with technology in new ways and therefore teaching practices also need to make a shift.
Thanks for sharing.

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2019). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom (2nd ed.). Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

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