Making Thinking Visible & Work Skills 2020

I am a real believer in finding ways for my students to use technology to make their thinking and their ideas visible. My futuristic hope is that we will have a mechanism for our words to become images, graphs, animations, mind maps, etc. on a display as we communicate our ideas. While we have the tools to manually do this today, it can be a fun and creative adventure but it takes time to produce the product. Wouldn't it be something if our political leaders, CEOs of companies, school principals, teachers, etc. in explaining important information have their ideas automatically appear on a display for the audience to further connect to? Oh, yes, we have PowerPoints/Keynotes and markers with whiteboards but the communication process definitely slows down as we turn our backs to the audience, think, and then scramble to write our ideas out usually in the form of words. Even image rich presentations do not engage the viewers as animations expanding in real time would. What a terrific way to build understanding and to make it easier for one's audience to really engage and ask questions of the speaker. To see the answers to questions expand across the screen truly would be something leading to further understanding and discussion. Who knows, maybe the 10th generation of Siri will have a vast "visulation" database of ideas and concepts to draw from to then display. :)

Jim Reese of Washington International School and Project Zero (PZ) was on an earlier Ed Tech Co-op podcast where his pick of the week was the book Making Thinking Visible which communicates the research on visual thinking from PZ. I purchased the book and have a set aside some time today to start reading it. Something tells me that the book will prompt a lot of thinking on my part.

A recent Washington Post article listed a couple British sites that make thinking visible through animations. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) produces a series of voiceover animations where an illustrator using a whiteboard expands upon the ideas of the off screen speaker. Another resource from the article is the Open University use of animations to offer explainations on several topics. Both efforts make thinking visual.

Here are links to these videos housed at YouTube:

RSA Animates Channel
Open University Channel (the animation playlist is on right side of page)

Another article that caught my attention was a post from the GigaOm site. "The 10 Key Skills for the Future of Work" post drew from The Institute for the Future and their work predicting what the jobs of the future will be and the skills needed for those jobs. We have our 21st Century Skills framework and now the Future Work Skills 2020 that this group has produced.

Here is a listing of the Skills 2020 that Jessica Stillman of GigaOm put together in her post. Many of these skills are similar to the 21st Century ones but some of these go further in cognitive processes and various literacies. As we developed our skills for Information and Communiction Literacies (ICL) several years ago at Hong Kong International School, I am seeing how this new listing will help me further develop the ICL construct. I can see a wonderful opportunity for one's school learning community to come together in small and then whole group to discuss each of these skills to make meaning of them and to then paint the picture of what teachers are doing in their respective classes to help students learn them.

  • Sense-making. The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • Social intelligence. The ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • Novel and adaptive thinking. Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Cross-cultural competency. The ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • Computational thinking. The ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New-media literacy. The ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Transdisciplinarity. Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Design mind-set. Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  • Cognitive load management. The ability to discriminate and filter information for importance and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Virtual collaboration. The ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team


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