Supporting the key competencies: Thinking

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This was originally posted by Simon Evans 28 May 2012. This is cross-posted as part of the transition of Software for Learning to Enabling e-Learning.

The New Zealand Curriculum identifies five key competencies that are qualities essential to students becoming active members of the community. These key competencies include managing self, thinking, participating and contributing, using language, symbols, and texts, and relating to others.

Although these key competencies are interwoven as part of the broader New Zealand curriculum, the focus for this post is on how technology can support students to develop their ability to think critically and with curiosity.

“Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas.” -  Capabilities for living and lifelong learning.

Key Competencies: Thinking - The nature of the key competencies makes reference to the need for a ‘both/and’ approach to the development of approaches to thinking. There are some fundamental thinking concepts and strategies that require explicit teaching but these must also be seen be students, in action, across different subjects and learning contexts.

There are several useful frameworks and approaches that support students to inquire more deeply into a context or idea, such as

So how might we use technology to support our students to become curious, inquiring and aware thinkers?

The e-Learning Planning Framework reflects this process and vision when it suggest that students “select and use appropriate technologies to explore, create and communicate higher-order, authentic learning.” (Teaching and Leaning dimension, ‘Enabling’)

Software to help students plan inquiring questions and to reflect on multiple perspectives:

  • Through the use of mind-mapping students can be supported to become more purposeful, thoughtful and reflective in the way they learn.
  • 2Investigate is a database package is designed for younger users, and introduces the concepts of collecting, sorting, and graphing data in an intuitive and simple format.
  • Gliffy is a free web-based diagram editor. Create and share flowcharts, network diagrams, floorplans, user interface designs and other drawings online.
  • Rationale is a computer-assisted argument mapping (CAAM) tool for supporting argument mapping and higher order thinking skills.
  • Thinking Space is a Mind Mapping application for Android phones. It is possible to create eye-catching maps quickly and easily.
  • XMind is a mind-mapping tool. It allows you to create colourful, personalised ‘brainstorms’. You can insert images, hyperlinks, attachments and audio notes.