21st Century Pedagogy

The digital traces we leave – through text messages, photos in the cloud, Internet search terms, apps we use, etc. – will likely soon be used to train “decentralized” learning models that are closer to us, such as by using our mobile phones. These traces, interacting with pre-trained models bolstered by powerful mathematical models calculating means and probabilities on aggregate data on scales and in ways that we cannot always perceive, and functioning at speeds four million times faster than the human nervous system, will be re-presented to us in “services” that will mediate the information, data, and knowledge that we can access.

Machine learning models pre-trained on corpuses larger than a single mind can read are already used to identify and re-produce patterns not just of language but also of images, music, and more. Those who know how to use these technologies well – such as by changing ‘temperature’, or by understanding prompt manipulation – can already produce work that rivals that of professionals, if for some tasks and for some of the time. This is to say nothing of new emergent uses and future transformation of the workplace.

It no longer makes sense, if it ever did make sense (and there is a long line of thinkers throughout history who think it did not), for the result of education to be the mere re-presentation of knowledge without original engagement with it or the use of it to complete projects or feats.

Additionally, in changing workplaces – where change is becoming more common than stability, educational institutions need to support robust thinkers who are aware of their individual strengths and how to assemble them in a variety of different contexts with different purposes and tools.

Here are some core resources to help with 21st century pedagogical design which, in a global world, should ideally promote what Nora Bateson has termed symmathesy, or ‘transcontextual mutual learning through interaction’.

Thinkers and Works


  • Participatory action research
  • Interdisciplinarity; postdisciplinarity
  • Backwards syllabus
  • Blended learning
  • Flipped classroom
  • Co-participatory syllabus; student syllabus; evolving syllabus; collaborative syllabus design
  • Contract grading
  • Collaborative learning; Project Based Learning
  • Ungrading
  • Appreciative inquiry, generative dialogue
  • I welcome discussion: do drop me a line.

    Page generated 03N04. Updated 03N06.

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