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How to help students develop 21st century skills

Business studies is a dynamic skill based subject which needs project-based learning to connect students to real life experiences.

education Updated: Apr 16, 2014 12:07 IST
Bijal Damani

Business studies is a dynamic skill based subject which needs project-based learning to connect students to real life experiences. I teach students of Grade 11-12 and have often heard parents say that the only thing that matters is scoring well in the board exams. However, no subject can be learnt just by rote, especially not business studies. Subjects, when explored beyond textbooks, come alive. Devising activities and projects to connect all the curriculum topics to real life situation have helped me impact learning positively.

With technological assistance and encouragement from Microsoft I was able to develop an interesting project called ‘Creative Capitalism- Let’s Make the World a Better Place’and bring alive the subject. It has tremendously helped my students develop 21st century skills such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and communication. For the project, students created teams. Each team had to identify a social/community problem and create an innovative product/idea that would solve that problem. Students also create the marketing plan, including newspaper ads, radio jingles, television advertisements and websites. The products and marketing plans were presented to an audience of students, teachers and industry experts who provided feedback and guidance. The students were encouraged to fine tune their product ideas over a period of time. These projects also brought into play many other subjects including product engineering, finance, language arts, ICT, media, law etc as students needed to work on holistic campaigns.

The introduction of technology based projects in classrooms, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Breaking away from traditional classroom practices means we are challenging students, parents and even the administration to step out of their comfort zone and this is often met with resistance. While students may be excited with use of information technology, as teachers, it becomes imperative for us to show them how to use them effectively to enhance learning. Many teachers are scared of integrating technology in their curriculum because they themselves don’t understand technology and the power it wields. Sometimes they feel inadequate because students know more technology than them.

Having said that, as a teacher, I have pushed for that change and seen it happen. I’ve been lucky. When they (parents, students and school administration) seethe positive results of using of technology in the classroom, the resistance subsides.

The author teaches business in a Gujarat school. She recently won the ‘Knowledge Construction & Critical Thinking’ award at the PIL Global Forum 2014 in Barcelona. She was selected as an MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator) Expert for the project ‘Creative Capitalist’