21st Century Skills

The term “21st Century Skills” subsumes the abilities people need in a globalized and technology-rich society. Binkley et al. conducted analyses in parts of the EC and USA (in collaboration with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills) as well as in Japan and Australia and identified ten skills in four groups that should be mediated and stimulated in an early state. Those are:
Ways of Thinking
1)     creativity and innovation
2)     critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
3)     learning to learn and metacognition
Ways of Working
4)     communication
5)     collaboration (teamwork)
Tools for Working
6)     information literacy
7)     ICT literacy
Living in the World
8)     citizenship (local and global)
9)     life and career
10)  personal and social responsibility (cultural awareness and competence) (Binkley et al., 2012)

Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning (also often referred to as formative assessment) is the counterpart of assessment of learning (or summative assessment).

(see also “formative assessment”)

Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is originally a method in business economics and aims at the adjustment, measurement and documentation of activities to reach organisational goals with the help of a ratio system. The BSC was developed by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in the early 1990s (Friedag/Schmidt, 2011). The main aim is the communication of strategic planning to all stakeholders as well as the allocation of responsibilities (Kaplan, & Norton, 1992). More and more, an adapted form of the BSC expands into the sector of school development as it focusses on the needs of the school as an organisation as well as on the needs of other school stakeholders (students, parents, teacher, policy of education) (Clark, Luckin, & Jewitt, 2011).

Cloud applications

(see cloud computing)

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is separated into three categories: (1) infrastructure, (2) platforms, and (3) applications. All three have in common that there is no longer either a local installation or a local storage of data and documents on a computer. Everything is stored virtually on the web. Many hosts of cloud computing services offer free of charge (but restricted) usage of their services with the possibility to subscribe to a more extended paid version.

Cloud computing is an extension of the software as a service (SaaS) principle.

Collaborative learning

Collaborative learning aims at a collective development of a subject matter in order to gain insight into it, to gather a collective understanding and to get a collective solution for a learning problem. In contrast to that, cooperative learning aims at a combined product but not at a transformative learning process.

Dillenbourg highlights criteria to identify a collaborative learning: (1) situation (collaboration usually takes place on a common level, i.e. a student more likely collaborates with other students rather than with a teacher), (2) processes (some learning processes, e.g. getting to know a topic, are less adequate for collaborative learning than others), (3) interaction (some interactions are more collaborative than others, e.g. discussion vs. presentation of results) (Dillenbourg, 1999).

CbKST – Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory

Competence based Knowledge Space Theory (CbKST) is based on the concept of Knowledge Space Theory (KST) (an area of mathematical psychology). CbKST assumes a dependency relation in different knowledge areas. Basis assumption of CbKST is that skills are oriented in a certain way and build up on each other. If a person has a specific skill X which is needed to solve a certain problem and is able to solve this problem, the person will also possess all skills which are oriented underneath skill X. The collections of skills are called competence states (Albert, & Lukas, 1999).

ECAAD – Evidence Centred Activity and Appraisal design

ECAAD or Evidence Centred Activity and Appraisal Design is a method which is developed in NEXT-TELL on basis of ECD (Evidence Centred Assessment Design). The idea is a well-balanced planning not only of learning activities but also of embedded and explicit formative appraisals in an ICT-based instruction.

Each appraisal process is also facilitated by ICT to provide the teacher with learning data of individual students. These data could be used to further plan the instruction in relation to an internal differentiation of learner groups.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment (recently more often referred to as assessment for learning) is the counterpart of summative assessment (also referred to as assessment of learning).

Formative assessments describe a form of appraisal that takes place while the learning process is still ongoing and is future oriented. The teacher collects information about the current learning process of the student and gives feedback to the student in order to facilitate and enhance the current process.

The term was mainly shaped by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam in the late 1990s (Black & Wiliam, 1998a, 1998b). Central aspects of the formative assessment/assessment for learning concept can also be drawn back to Bloom’s conception of mastery learning (Guskey, 2010).

According to the OECD, formative assessment is one of the most crucial assessment strategies in order to enhance learning performance. Furthermore, formative assessment could help the student “learning to learn”. Therefore, it contributes to the students’ competence of becoming a lifelong learner (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, 2005).

Recent literature more and more utilizes the term assessment for learning instead of formative assessment in order to emphasize that it is about an assessment which has a constitutive influence on the learning process.


ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is a collective term for all communication devices and applications (e.g. telephones, cell phones, radio, television, computers, networks, hardware, software, satellite systems) as well as for services that are related to communication and technology (e.g. videoconferences or eLearning).

According to the European Commission, ICT has a special influence in three key areas: (1) productivity and innovation (e.g. supporting creativity and organisation), (2) modernising civil service (e.g. public health, education or transportation), and (3) advantages in science and technology (e.g. supporting collaboration and cooperation as well as access to information).

Immersive learning environment

Immersive learning environments (ILE) are learning situations using state of the art techniques (like e.g. 3D technology). One key characteristic is that ILEs simulate real life displays that give the learner the opportunity to immerse into the environment in order to practice skills or interact with other learners as if the learner and other are actually in that virtual world.

Immersive Learning Environments are used since the late 1990s. Well known examples for an ILE are Second Life and OpenSim (which is an open-source solution that clones common Second Life features) (Jolie et al., 2011).

Learning artefacts

Learning artefacts are documents that a learner generates, collects and reflects upon in his/her ePortfolio in order to document learning progress and competences for himslef/herself and others.

Learning management systems

Within a Learning Management System (LMS), learning contents as well as organized learning processes are prepared and provided to the learner. A well-known example is the open-source platform Moodle.

Lifelong learning

The EC defines lifelong learning (LLL) as all learning that takes place during the whole life with the intention of knowledge gain, qualification and capacity building. It comprises formal, non-formal and informal learning similarly and takes place in relation to personal, social, and job-related interests (Bechtel/Lattke/Nuissl, 2005).


Mahara is a learner-centred open-source ePortfolio software in which a learner can document, reflect upon and organize his/her learning progress.


Moodle is an open-source learning management system that allows the organized preparation of learning contents and courses.

Open Learner Model / Open Student Model

A learner model is used to store information, characteristics and competences about a learner. It can be used as a specialized user model for specific learning situations. It aims at adaptation of the learning situation in relation to the knowledge level of a learner. However, the learner himself is not able to access the learner model content.

In contrast to that, an open learner model allows access by the learner. The internal stored information is made visible to the learner which enables him/her to receive information about his/her current learning in order to reflect about the learning progress (Bull & Kay, 2010).


OpenSim is also known as OpenSimulator. It is a user-generated open-source immersive learning environment. Similar to Second Life, a person can immerse into the world as an avatar in order to communicate and interact with other users.

Second Life

Second Life is an immersive Learning Environment that was developed in 1999 by Linden Labs. People can communicate and interact with other people in form of an avatar in this virtual world.

Self-determined learning

Self-determined learning has its roots in humanistic and progressive pedagogy and traces back to the ideal of the individuals’ open development. The idea that the human should deal with his environment in a self-reflected and holistic way by making use of his rationality has already prevailed since ancient history (Greif/Kurtz, 1993).

Self-determined learning is an umbrella term for self-regulated, self-directed and self-organized learning because those are commonly used in relation to specific traditions (e.g. self-regulated learning is used in pedagogical psychology whereas self-directed/self-organized learning is usually referred to in andragogy) as well as in relation to different grades of a self-determination in a learning process (e.g. concerning a self-determined goal setting) (Schreiber, 1998).

In its purest form, self-determined learning means that learning topics as well as learning goals are chosen by the learner himself, i.e. without any traditional or formal demand (e.g. curricula). However, this is not possible in formal situations: There is always a tension between self-determination and heteronomy.

Commonly, progressive pedagogical concepts are used in school contexts (e.g. open learning), that initiate different values of self-determination of the learner. Arguments for self-determination are originally anchored in constructivism and system theory (Rein, 1998; Schett, 2008). Self-determined learning subsumes many of the so called 21st Century Skills (e.g. critical thinking, reflection skills, collaboration, communication), therefore itself can be seen as such a 21st Century skill which also contributes to the concept of lifelong learning.

SPICE – Strategic Planning of ICT in Education

Strategic Planning with ICTs in Education (SPICE) is a NEXT-TELL method which is based on the balanced scorecard approach. To facilitate the work with the balanced scorecard ratio system, the NEXT-TELL project developed a strategic planning software which allows an intuitive and graphical access for planning and defining specific balanced scorecard indicators (Clark, Luckin, & Jewitt, 2011).

TISL (Teachers’ Inquiries into Students’ Learning)

Teachers’ Inquiry into Students’ Learning (TISL) is a method developed within NEXT-TELL. It is a systematic, intentional and design-oriented approach which helps the teacher utilizing ICT to gain knowledge about the learning of his students in order to facilitate it.

The method focusses on the development of formative appraisals that utilize ICT in order to collect data about the learning process and to analyse, interpret and evaluate these data.

TISL can be seen as part of the professional development of teachers and of school development (Clark, Luckin, & Jewitt, 2011).

In order to implement the TISL method into school contexts, NEXT-TELL furthermore developed software of the same name which was tested with school teachers. This software aims at improving the analysis process of learning data.

Web 2.0

The term web 2.0 was originally proposed by Tim O’Reilly and is nowadays commonly used for a new form of the internet applications and usage. Interactive applications not only enable the user to easily produce content and share those contents with other users (even worldwide) but also hold the possibility for the user to work synchronously on these contents, comment them and to refer to each other (O’Reilly, 2005)



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