Learning and innovation skills
Image by Peter Gottschalk from Pixabay

Learning and innovation skills acquisition through education and researches is a way everyone can adapt to the rapid shifts in this 21st Century. Improving on knowledge and skills through education and researches promotes critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills. More broadly, education takes us to the level where we acquire proficient knowledge and skills through various categories of learning.

Learning and Innovation skills – The Measure of Preparedness for 21st Century Life and Work

”Learning and innovation skills are being highly regarded as those skills that separate people  who are ready for the emerging complex life and work in the technology-advancing 21st century environment , and those who are not”.

Learning occurs when there is relatively permanent change in behaviour in an individual. Fundamentally, as a social activity, it takes place everywhere – in schools, workplaces or any place in the world’s environment. Innovation is conversion of generated ideas into useful products.

In our 21st Century life that is becoming complex day by day, everyone is expected to possess survival skills. Students need to prepare for workplace skills, job seekers to prove their abilities and skills and employees should worry about retention of their ever-threatened job roles and positions. For each of these groups – everyone, students, job seekers and employees to achieve their 21st Century target skills and thrive for survival and excellence in today’s global economy, learning is key. Teaching is likewise complementary.

The 3C’s of Learning and Innovation Skills

Achieving 21st Century skills demands teaching, learning and development of 21st Century learning and innovation skills and this focuses on 3 skills – communication and collaboration skills, creativity and innovation skills and critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They can be referred to as the 3C’s of Learning and innovation skills.

1. Communication and Collaboration Skills

”Communication and collaboration skills refer to the ability of individuals to share ideas understandably and work responsibly and effectively with others”

Globalization and social relations in our society are now more than ever demanding today’s students and educated elites possess diverse set of communication and collaboration skills befitting our 21st Century.

A good communicator has quick understanding of a process and he or she can express his ideas and thoughts meaningfully in various contexts and forms – verbal, nonverbal and media technologies as well as in diverse environments. Communication is the gum that binds qualities and skills for both personal and group successes.

Collaboration skills requires the ability to demonstrate group work effectiveness;  showing flexibility and adaptability to different situations to accomplish a common goal and assumption of shared responsibility and value for the individual contributions in group dynamism.

Project-based learning, problem-based learning (PBL) and design-based learning (DBL) are student-based pedagogical approaches to learning communication and collaboration skills. Performance-based learning usually a follow-up evaluation method of assessing the extent of the knowledge and skills the students have acquired through these approaches.

2. Creativity and Innovation Skills

”Creativity and innovation is about creating useful things from new thoughts and ideas”

Creativity which has wrongly been misperceived to be of an innate artistic talent alone can be nurtured by teachers in learning environments that encourage questioning, freedom of giving new ideas, and learning from errors and failures.

Cultivating the culture of constant practise to develop one’s creative and innovative skills over time, just like other skills, leads to production of high quality work.

One can develop his creative and innovation skills by thinking critically to generate worthwhile ideas. ‘Brainstorming and brainwriting’, ‘comparing different problem elements’, ‘asking What if question’ and other idea generating techniques can be employed while engaged in critical thinking. He can then subject the generated ideas to further scrutiny to improve it and maximize creative effort. With time, the creative mind gains experience in generating areas in more innovation field and become more skilled.

Innovation skills demands one concentrates on modifying original ideas and applies them to real world scenarios. Creation of a value successfully is usually a long-term project characterised by series of mistakes and failures, but that is not expected to deter a creative person rather he should view it as opportunity to learn and grow. Viability of thoughts and ideas is the watchword.

3. Critical thinking and Problem-solving Skills

”Critical thinking and problem-solving skills involve the ability of a person to reason and judge system processes critically and effectively and make suitable problem-solving decisions”

Applying critical thinking and problem-solving to systems and their components can be accomplished through these steps:

  • Synthesizing the connectivity between the interacting parts of a complex system in such a way to deliver the bests of result. Different connected parts of a complex system interact with one another.
  • Analysis, evaluation, interpretation and conclusion based on the best results to guide in informed decision and solving unfamiliar issues. Apply informed decision conventionally or innovatively to these unfamiliar situations brings better solutions to the issues.
  • Critical reflection on learning experiences on the whole process thinking which in turn increases knowledge and skills.

Problem-solving is one assessment tool that effectively measures one’s creativity in situations where many instruments fail. Technology provides a range of media resources for students to learn creativity and problem-solving.

Ekene Ifechukwu

Ekene Ifechukwu is education writer. He has over 7 years experience in teaching and tutoring. He has taught in primary and secondary schools. He has affection for training children and young people. He aims at improving other people's lives through education.