How XR Can Help Students Develop 21st Century Learning Skills

Kai Frazier
August 11, 2022

Psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy once said: "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." In a single statement, he predicted the rise of 21st century learning skills. 

We are only getting deeper into the 21st century, and the skills students need to succeed have changed drastically. As such, students face new challenges in education and skills-building. There are new learning delivery modes, such as online learning modules, that require more self-directed learning skills. To keep up with these changes, current education systems need to adapt quickly to meet the requirements for teaching 21st century learning skills for students.

Kai XR was built by educators to bridge the gap between current curriculum models and the technological advancements needed to teach 21st century skills. We bring the future of education to the present-day classroom with immersive VR and AR educational experiences. Our mission is to bridge the gap between technology and access while empowering students to build the future they want to see—a future with all of the 21st century skills they need to succeed. 

So what does 21st century skills mean, and how can Kai XR help build those skills? 

Keep reading and discover for yourself! 

The Basics of 21st Century Workplace Skills 

Illustration of 21st century learning skills. Two silhouttes face each other. Orange, yellow, green and blue circles emerge from their heads. Each circle holds an icon (book, DNA, test tube, laptop, calculator) representing a different 21st Century learning skill.

Before the dawn of the 21st century, most education programs were centered around literacy and numeracy skills for their students, as illustrated by the Brookings Institute's Skills for a Changing World. However, as changes in technology and telecommunication continue to develop at lightning speed, priorities are shifting from math and literature toward a wider breadth of skills that have cognitive, social, and emotional foundations. Out of this shift, the Framework for 21st Century Learning was born. 

The development of this framework considered the expertise of teachers, educators, and business leaders in defining the vast array of skills students need to succeed. In addition, a support system for these outcomes was created for educators around the world as a road map for 21st century work skills. 

The framework breaks down into a list of 21st century skills for students

  1. Life and career skills
  2. Learning and innovation skills
  3. Information, media, and technology skills

Educators need to fully understand the framework to create the proper curriculums, leverage the right tools, and administer the best assessments. Let's explore those learning themes and skills categories before discussing how Kai XR can help! 

21st Century Learning Skills Themes

The world has gotten a lot smaller since the 21st century began. 

To contact a relative who moved out of the country in 1980, you'd have to dial a collect phone number to get in touch with them. Today, all you have to do is click a link, and you're in a virtual meeting space, face-to-face with your loved one. 

As the world becomes more and more intertwined with the internet, the human brain is faced with a significant amount of information that requires specialized skills to process everything. 

That's where the 21st century learning themes come in:

  1. Global awareness
  2. Financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy
  3. Civic literacy
  4. Health literacy
  5. Environmental literacy 

These competencies still require the understanding of education's previous core subjects of history, geography, math, science, language arts, etc. – but 21st century skills require a new approach to applying this knowledge. For example, geography and history can be combined with economics to create global awareness. 

The importance of 21st century learning themes lies in how they allow individuals to be more successful in a broad spectrum rather than hyperfocused on one skillset as an adult. 

Learning & Innovation

Child with curly hair wearing a rainbow striped shirt stands with arm up beside a chalkboard depicting a rocket and stars.

To Gerjuoy's point, today's workforce needs to be able to learn, unlearn, and relearn skills to keep up with the rapid changes happening worldwide. That's where 21st century learner skills come in. Learning and innovation skills separate students who are prepared to tackle the complexities of adulthood and those who are not. 

Learning and innovation skills include: 

  • Creativity and innovation: the ability to create and execute new ideas 
  • Critical thinking and problem solving: the ability to use logic and reasoning to resolve challenges
  • Communication: the ability to effectively articulate thoughts and feelings
  • Collaboration: the ability to communicate and understand ideas 

As adults, these skills are critical to holding a successful job and building a career. In addition, they support one's ability to work alone and as part of a team.

VR/AR technology gets students excited about learning because it's fun to use. In addition, it's a powerful way to engage students who have trouble with traditional teaching methods. When students are inserted into a seemingly real-life scenario, they can better focus on the lesson and become active participants. In this way, they can learn how to be leaders and team players to work together to solve a common problem. 

Imagine teaching your class about DNA and taking them on a virtual field trip to the University of California Berkeley, where researchers are exploring how CRISPR could cure sickle cell anemia. Students can hear from scientists in the lab, learn the CRISPR editing process, and watch the process unfold. This is just one of the many experiences teaching with Kai XR can provide! 

Information, Media, and Technology

In today's world, it's almost impossible to get through an entire day without consuming some sort of media via technology. Plus, the technology and types of media are changing daily with an infinite amount of information available to consume. Today's students need to be able to keep up with these changes. That's where information, media, and technology skills come in. 

Skills in this area can be broken down into three sub-categories: 

  • Information literacy: the ability to access and evaluate information
  • Media literacy: the ability to analyze media
  • Information, communications, and technology literacy: the ability to leverage technology effectively 

As trade jobs shift from manual labor to technology-supported tasks – or computerism – 21st century workers will need the skills to use the technology correctly. And those who seek to fill media or communication roles will need the ability to be agile in the ever-changing landscape. 

According to a VR education research review, cognitive learning activities that require visualization and experiential learning are best facilitated using immersive technologies - especially in the category of computer science. For example, another study found that students who received computer science education via VR scored 12% higher on software engineering principles than those who did not. 

So instead of watching a video of astronauts preparing to launch a rocket into space, why not send your students right into the astronaut training center through their virtual headsets? What was once a childhood dream can start to feel much more realistic. 

Life & Career

The final category of skills is life and career. These types of skills are historically considered “soft skills” that aren’t necessarily required for a specific job. However, they can set individuals who have the same professional and technical skills apart from the rest. 

Life and career skills include: 

  • Flexibility and adaptability: the ability to work with different people in different environments 
  • Initiative and self-direction: the ability to work independently and manage time 
  • Social and cross-cultural skills: the ability to effectively communicate and work with others
  • Productivity and accountability: the ability to set and meet goals with a plan
  • Leadership and responsibility: the ability to guide and lead others 

These are the people skills needed to work with others and maintain one's drive to grow and succeed in a globalized world. Today's students need to be able to use all these skills across cultures and borders to be competitive. However, many students are bound to their classrooms for learning based on budget. Virtual reality and augmented reality experiences can solve that problem.

A study published in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations examines the effectiveness of virtual reality for intercultural competence development. The findings reported that VR-based learning environments could increase learners' knowledge of cultural worldview frameworks in a safe, immersive, and scalable environment. 

Students don't have to wait until college to access the study abroad experience. Imagine being able to give them the opportunity to travel to the Egyptian Pyramids, then heading to the Sistine Chapel in a matter of minutes without having to leave your classroom. Watching their faces react to the sights and sounds of an ancient civilization? Priceless! 

Support Systems for Skill Development

The final element of the 21st century teaching framework is the systems that can build these skills. This kind of learning requires a highly engaging support system that leverages applicable skills and knowledge, appropriate technologies, and real-world connections to make lessons relevant.

 The following support systems are critical to 21st century teacher skills: 

  1. Standards and assessment
  2. Curriculum and instruction
  3. Professional development
  4. Learning environments 

While these systems are not new, how they are delivered has changed. To teach 21st century skills, the instruction itself needs to incorporate those skills. Leveraging modern technology is such a critical element of this framework. 

VR and AR from Kai XR can provide schools with brand new learning environments for students like never before. In addition to virtual field trips, we can provide tools for educator development, metaverse curriculum, and even live virtual instruction. 

Using VR & AR for Skill Development

As an educator, you recognize the importance of 21st century skills in education. So how can you go about developing programs to support these skills? The answer is to leverage the same technology that inspired this cultural shift. 

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)—also known as extended reality (XR)—present an appealing option for students and teachers to engage in 21st century technology skills building. XR education is engaging, motivational, AND cost-effective. 

XR for Learning & Innovation

VR and AR are two of the most exciting technologies we've seen in a long time. They enable users to experience, interact, learn, and create. Their immersive, hands-on format provides limitless potential for instruction. 

Recently, educators have begun to adopt VR and AR in the classroom to support 21st century skills development while also helping students prepare for their careers. For example, teachers can now create a vr classroom where students learn by using XR in a virtual reality room. 

One of the expected benefits of using XR in the classroom is that it can make abstract concepts more concrete. Students can learn about history by exploring ancient Rome, for example, or learn about physics by launching a virtual rocket into space. 

Two children with curly hair look down at a tablet. Background is outerspace. Technology skills are 21st Century learning skills.

Students can better understand what they're learning through interactive simulations and digital recreations of museums or other landmarks. Teachers can also make use of edu-tainment options like virtual field trips. 

XR can go beyond lessons in STEAM subjects by helping students better understand themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and their preferred learning styles. This is because it pulls them out of their desks and plants them into the virtual "real" world to test their newly cultivated knowledge. 

XR for Life & Career

In addition to immersive education and training, students have the opportunity to develop those people skills we mentioned earlier. Moreover, it can help them develop skills that will be applied outside the classroom – whether negotiating in a boardroom, providing a tour at a museum, or working with a team on a factory floor. 

Collaborative VR environments encourage teamwork, as well as communication and negotiation skills. Even if students are in different locations, they can work together to solve problems and complete tasks while navigating the virtual space. By working together, they will learn how to communicate effectively with each other while still focusing on the task at hand. 

The metaverse has taken social skills training to a whole new level. This network of extended reality experiences blurs the lines between physical and digital through three-dimensional content. For example, our platform now enables educators to set up a VR field trip where students can safely explore places like the solar system and the U.S. national monuments in a fully immersive experience. Here, students can engage with the materials and one another to build skills in leadership and accountability. 

XR for Information, Media, and Technology 

There's no better way to equip students with the skills needed to utilize advanced technology than using that same technology as a tool for teaching. In a world where many jobs require technological understanding, the demand for students to learn core information, media, and technology skills will grow exponentially. 

XR can help students gain knowledge and understand how to use technology in new situations while also helping them understand how information is presented in the real world. Again, students can hear a teacher talk about technology all day, but proper knowledge and understanding cannot be achieved until they can directly engage with the technology. 

Whereas students used to build skills around reading a textbook and finding meaning in words, they're now required to learn how to find information independently. They need to understand the best methods for finding information online, evaluate its credibility, and synthesize it into an argument or presentation of their ideas. 

Kai XR Virtual Field Trips for 21st Century Learning

Kai XR wants to get students out of their seats and into all-new environments for learning. We enable educators to take students on virtual field trips worldwide, on any device, wherever they are. 

Looking for a captivating lesson about Black History? No problem! Through Kai XR, students can learn about star baseball players in the Negro Leagues or listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Looking for a global travel experience? With us, you can take your class to Paris or Rio de Janeiro for the afternoon.

Four virtual field trip covers against a purple background. Virtual reality falls under 21st century learning skills.

Leveraging interactive 360° technology, we can provide various digital learning opportunities in one central platform. These trips have empowered kids to dream big, develop skills 21st century learners need, and explore the universe around them – from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy. 

We built the Kai XR platform on four pillars:

  • Diversity
  • Accessibility
  • Safety
  • Futurism 

The platform is futuristic by providing the latest 360°, VR, and AR technology. Our programs present opportunities to explore diverse cultures and support students’ global awareness. They're designed to be accessible any time, anywhere through most devices. And most importantly, we've prioritized the safety of students with a secure viewing environment with age-appropriate, advertising-free content. Each lesson in our platform is clearly labeled by age group so educators can be sure that they’re providing the right kind of content for students. 

How Kai XR Works

Educators built Kai XR to bridge the digital divide and position every student for success in a rapidly changing world. So we made it easy to sign up and easy to use. Schools and at-home educators can tap into the power of Kai XR with a subscription, providing access to our global catalog of virtual field trips and a growing library of educational resources. 

Students can use a web browser on a tablet, smartTV, computer, smartphone, or VR headset to access the platform. From there, the world is their oyster! Kids can choose to explore a variety of topics through 100+ kid-friendly virtual field trips. 

Some of our favorites include: 

  • Traveling to Australia to dive in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Explore the Dreams of Artist Salvador Dali 
  • Exploring Sustainable Energy at a Wind Farm
  • Bringing People Together with Music from Major Lazer 

Who wouldn’t want to take their students to their first Diplo concert from the comfort (and safety) of their classroom?

Our Voyage package equips classrooms with inclusive virtual field trips and more. We also provide professional development for educators, metaverse curriculum and lesson plans, and 24/7 customer support. As optional add-ons, you can also get help selecting the right hardware for your classroom, including live virtual instruction, or get access to a metaverse classroom. 

Schedule a Demo

Our goal is to connect 1 million kids through 360˚, AR, VR, and XR technologies by 2030. Will your classroom be part of that feat? Kai XR is ready to help educators help build the skills your 21st century learners need to succeed. If you want to help your kids explore this new world in a safe, educational, and engaging environment, we invite you to take the next step and schedule a demo to get started.

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There’s so much for you and your students to explore. All you need to do is start. Try out Kai XR on your smart device, tablet, VR headset, or laptop. We’ll be your guide!

In memory of my sunshine, Ky(ra) G. Frazier. Love you to the moon and back.