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This week the ATC21S consortium is in London for the 2012 Education World Forum (EWF). The EWF, held once per year, is a prestigious global summit for education ministers. This event brings government representatives, industry leaders, and major organizations from more than 60 countries together and provides a forum for rich discussion on current issues, cutting-edge advancements, and the most important needs in education at the local, national, international, and global scale.

Day one of the EWF kicked off with welcome messages from international luminaries, followed by two plenary sessions with involvement from key ATC21S members.

The first plenary session, themed “Education for what?” addressed the function of education in our rapidly changing times. This session featured interesting presentations from representatives of the World Bank; Taking IT Global; and the Portuguese federal government. Most exciting for the ATC21S team was a keynote address on the challenges linked with teaching and learning in the 21st century delivered by Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, our own expert on policy issues.

Dr. Darling-Hammond outlined the skills that young people of the 21st century are in need of, including communication, teamwork, critical problem solving, analysis, self-management, creativity, the ability to cross back and forth over specialist borders, and the mindset to continue learning throughout one’s career and lifetime. There is an enormous need for non-routine skills in today’s world, she noted. What’s more, the ATC21S project is spearheading research in this area with its innovative and targeted focus on developing assessment and training tools for these 21st century skills. Dr. Darling-Hammond asked audience members to think strategically in light of these pressing needs. What kind of schools will foster 21st century skill building, and what educational reforms will help us achieve our goals? What assessment tools do we need on hand in order to ensure that we are measuring the most relevant skills and concepts? How can we use our tools and technologies in empowering ways to solve the problems that face us in education today? Dr. Darling-Hammond’s thought provoking talk led to insightful discussion in the Q&A session following it.

Monday’s second and final plenary session was themed “What does effective organization of education look like?” and was chaired by Greg Butler, ATC21S Taskforce member and Worldwide Education Strategy Director at Microsoft. This session featured noteworthy presentations from representatives of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the New Media Consortium; the Agastya Foundation; and Global Partnership for Education. In his introduction, Mr. Butler spoke about the profound ways in which access to information communication technologies redefines what it means to be a 21st century learner. He gave a quick preview of the Ministerial Exchange session that the ATC21S team has organized for day two of the EWF.

The Ministerial Exchange session that Mr. Butler referred to is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and will be chaired by Patrick Griffin, the ATC21S Executive Director. Our featured speakers will be Dr Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University; Shelley Esque, VP of Corporate Affairs at Intel; Michael Stevenson, VP of Cisco; Anthony Mackay, ATC21S Moderator at the University of Melbourne; and Greg Butler, ATC21S Taskforce member and Senior Director of Worldwide Education Strategy at Microsoft.

Beyond reflecting on the current status of the ATC21S project, the team will share information on our assessment tools, and will release a short video of students and teachers during the assessment process.

We are looking forward to it and will keep you posted on our activities at this exciting event.

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