Welcome to the Information Age

21st Century Skills for K-12 Students

21st Century skills are 12 abilities that today’s students need to succeed in their careers during the Information Age.

21st Century Skills

The Three 21st Century Skill Categories

Each 21st Century skill is broken into one of three categories:

  1. Learning skills
  2. Literacy skills
  3. Life skills

Learning skills (the four C’s) teaches students about the mental processes required to adapt and improve upon a modern work environment.

Literacy skills (IMT) focuses on how students can discern facts, publishing outlets, and the technology behind them. There’s a strong focus on determining trustworthy sources and factual information to separate it from the misinformation that floods the Internet.

Life skills (FLIPS) take a look at intangible elements of a student’s everyday life. These intangibles focus on both personal and professional qualities.

Category 1. Learning Skills (The Four C’s)

Critical Thinking

Arguably, critical thinking is the most important quality for someone to have in health sciences. It’s what helps students figure stuff out for themselves when they don’t have a teacher at their disposal.


Creativity is equally important as a means of adaptation. This skill empowers students to see concepts in a different light, which leads to innovation. Creativity means thinking outside the box.


Collaboration may be the most difficult concept in the four C’s. Collaboration means getting students to work together, achieve compromises, and get the best possible results from solving a problem.


Communication is the glue that brings all of these educational qualities together. Effective communication is also one of the most underrated soft skills that students need to learn.

Category 2. Literacy Skils (IMT)


Information literacy is the foundational skill. It helps students understand facts, especially data points, that they’ll encounter online. More importantly, it teaches them how to separate fact from fiction.


Media literacy is the practice of identifying publishing methods, outlets, and sources while distinguishing between the ones that are credible and the ones that aren’t. Media literacy is helpful for finding truth in a world that’s saturated with information.


Technology literacy goes another step further to teach students about the machines involved in the Information Age. As a result, students can adapt to the world more effectively. They can play an important role in its evolution.

Category 3. Life Skills (FLIPS)


Flexibility is the expression of someone’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances. This is one of the most challenging qualities to learn for students because it’s based on two uncomfortable ideas: Your way isn’t always the best way, and you have to know and admit when you’re wrong.


It's important for students to experience leadership opportunities during their schooling, to learn the art of building relationships within teams, defining identities and achieving tasks effectively. It also provides an opportunity to learn to identify and display effective communication and interpersonal skills.


Initiative only comes naturally to some people. A sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action through creativity, innovation, and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects. True success also requires initiative, requiring students to be self-starters.


Productivity is a student’s ability to complete work in an appropriate amount of time. By understanding productivity strategies at every level, students discover the ways in which they work best while gaining an appreciation for how others work as well.

Social Skills

Developing social skills in children prepares them for a lifetime of healthier interactions in all aspects of life. ... Displaying good manners, communicating effectively with others, being considerate of the feelings of others and expressing personal needs are all important components of solid social skills.

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