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5 ways to use AV to prepare students for 21st-century jobs

AV and media skills can advance the uptake of all Four C's for 21st-century learning--here's how.

Critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity—these are the “Four Cs” that P21 has identified as critical skills for 21st century learning. As educators rethink their lesson plans to cater to these skills, one focus area that could help is AV and media skills.

In addition to facilitating learning in multiple subjects, media projects, presentations and online communications advance the uptake of all Four Cs of 21st century learning. Without a crystal ball that tells us exactly what skills our students will need in the future job market, AV projects are a great place to begin preparing students.

Teachers can leverage classroom technology such as projectors, headsets, audio systems and more to prepare students. Here are a handful of ways teachers can make the most out of AV tools for 21st century learning.

1. Group presentations

Group work is not a new concept for K-12 classrooms. However, with the affordances of today’s technology, students can expand collaborative projects outside of school walls. With live-edit platforms such as Google Slides, students are able to collaborate both in-person and virtually. Students can even work together online to record separate parts of a presentation.

Group presentations inherently foster collaboration skills, but taking the development of group presentations to an online space creates even more potential for 21st century learning. As organizations, associations and companies continue to work on a global scale, an increasing amount of collaboration is taking place online. With more experience in developing group presentations, students will be prepared to work with people who aren’t in their local vicinity to create deliverables.

2. Report building 

There are myriad ways to include critical thinking in classroom activities. For example, in nearly any subject, students can practice critical thinking by developing a report of their thought process in a problem-solving activity.

PowerPoints, Prezis, videos, infographics and more can be used to demonstrate the process of critical thinking. These media projects enable students to outline the reasoning and analysis that went into solving a problem, such as how to improve a city’s parks. Projects that rely on media to demonstrate critical thinking both facilitate students’ technology skills, and prepare them to clearly communicate the value of a program or solution being used in the workplace.

(Next page: 3 more ways AV can prepare students for jobs)

3. Cross-curricular projects

Rather than remaining siloed, departments often cross paths in the workplace to provide support in reaching each other’s goals. Media and presentation projects that blend subjects or classes can prepare students for working with people who have a skillset or goal unique from their own.

One example offered by the NEA to facilitate collaboration in the classroom is to have multiple classes investigate water runoff on their school grounds, with students being assigned interdependent roles. Students compile research and graphics to create a holistic report of their work. With media deliverables at the heart of inter-disciplinary projects, students learn more about the connections between concepts such as art, data analysis and writing.

4. Virtual meetings

Phone and video conferencing skills may seem easy to master, but in reality, virtual meetings take a strong skillset in technology and communication. As more interviews and professional meetings take place over video platforms, teachers can prepare students for a 21st century job market by practicing with video chat.

Teachers might have students video conference to work on a project, or have students connect with a mentor via video chat to learn more about a subject. With these practices, students will learn how to resolve technical issues, and how to properly use a microphone.

5. Video development

Creating video requires multiple skills that are likely to be helpful in a 21st century job market. In conjunction with the basic hardware and software used to create videos, students get experience in storytelling, design, communicating and audio mixing.

Depending on the video project, educators are able to teach curricular content while simultaneously focusing on the Four Cs—critical thinking about the content included in the video, communicating for a specific purpose to a target audience, collaboration with others contributing to the video, and creativity in video production.

With thoughtful planning and the right tools, AV use in the classroom promotes the uptake of 21st century skills, including how students think, work and understand technology. These foundational skills will benefit students in their career path whether they are building robots, curing a disease or even teaching a class about a subject we’ve yet to explore.

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