The 21st century offers an entirely new world that our grandparents and great-grandparents could only have dreamed of: the promise of instant connection, the chance to explore the world from your home office, the ability to learn anything by navigating to the right online video, and myriad opportunities for students from across the globe to learn together. 

So what is 21st century learning? It’s the key ring of skills that unlock the deadbolt of economic opportunity in an increasingly complex world. Education was once about knowing the right facts. Now, it’s all about mastering the art of learning, utilizing critical thinking to protect oneself and make the world a better place, and forging essential human connections. 21st century learning prepares your learners to be successful, thriving members of the workforce and society. 

21st century learning skills prioritize 5 C’s: critical thinking, citizenship/character, creativity, collaboration, and communication. Students have access to more knowledge than ever before. They can learn to play the cello from their bedroom, become pottery masters without ever leaving home, and virtually explore the world. Without the ability to thoughtfully synthesize the avalanche of information they encounter, it’s easy to get buried. 

Here’s what you need to know as you work to center 21st century learning in your program. 

Request a demo of BellXcel’s software to see how easy it can be to manage your  youth programs →

What Are 21st Century Learning Skills? 

How well did your education serve you? Many adults lament the fact that their schools didn’t teach them the skills they needed to thrive in adulthood. Today’s model of 21st century learning attempts to correct that, preparing learners for the real world—and the very real challenges it poses. 

21st century learning skills include three categories of skills: 

  • Life skills: These are the skills a child will need no matter where life takes them, including getting along with others and effectively communicating with a boss. 

  • Learning skills: Learning is a skill just like anything else. People who master this skill can take in more information, then do more with it. 

  • Literacy skills: The days of uncritically citing sources are over. Today’s students need to vet their sources, master technological literacy, and understand how media works so they can intelligently feast on the cornucopia of information in front of them. 

Some of the most important 21st century learning skills to master are: 

2022-05-GR-BellXcel-Blog graphic-shadow2

Afterschool and summer programs can supplement the classroom and help students master these critical skills. 


21st Century Learning for a Better Life 

Another way to think of 21st century learning skills is to contemplate the skills everyone should have to thrive in a global marketplace of ideas. The World Health Organization says that everyone should have these five skills: 

  1. Creative and critical thinking

  2. Decision-making and problem-solving 

  3. Interpersonal and communication skills 

  4. Empathy and self-awareness

  5. Stress and emotional management skills 

The 5 C’s of 21st century learning fit right in here and can help you nurture a positive program environment

Fostering these vital skills can change lives, not just improve grades. The reach of an empathetic, thoughtful, critically thinking student extends well beyond the walls of a school. Students who master these skills can change the world, one community at a time. 


BellXcel: Fostering 21st Century Learning

The BellXcel software platform includes self-paced online professional development for exceptional educators and a wide range of tools to complement your learning goals. You can set your own goals and track progress against these objectives. You can even add on our BellXcel Explorers curriculum, designed to support whole-child learning through physical fitness, social emotional learning, and tons of enrichment. Daily routines, professional development resources, and teaching guides provide impactful skills and strategies to help teachers incorporate this programming into the classroom. The Explorers curriculum supports healthy minds and healthy bodies for happier, healthier, thriving learners. 

Eager to learn how BellXcel can take your program to the next level? Request a demo to get started!

New call-to-action

Stay Connected

Get Access to the BellXcel Newsletter!