TeachThought: A Diagram Of Pedagogy in the 21st Century


TeachThought: A Diagram Of Pedagogy in the 21st Century

by Terry Heick

We know that thinking in the 21st century seems different. What about teaching? Aside from the presence of dizzying technologies, added pressure for data-based improvements, and a persistent call for innovation, how is teaching different in 2016 than it was in, say, 1984?

Here are a few ideas as a kind of quick overview, with general summaries for each. I’ve added “tags” for each domain so that we can begin to see how existing and emerging initiatives (e.g., personalized learning), trends (e.g., the flipped classroom), and buzz words (e.g., digital footprint) might fit into each.

8 Domains Of 21st Century Pedagogy


Summary: Teaching embedded within and around authentic networks is crucial to modern pedagogy. This is related to Learning Spaces and is a specialized form of knowledge. Who can I work with, learn from and publish for to solve problems and create opportunities important to me?

Tags: social media, digital footprint, PBL, self-directed learning, maker learning, collaboration, dialogic learning

Learning Spaces

Summary: Learners can create and participate in overlapping physical and digital learning spaces for sustained and authentic experiences. These spaces are also where knowledge is used, curated, and stored, making them ‘platforms’ for inquiry and natural sources of collaboration and creativity.

Tags: place-based education, self-organized learning environments, flipped classroom, publishing, identity, streaming, innovation

Emergence & Adaptation

Summary: A defining characteristic of the 21st century is change. Emergence and adaptation are as much a part of teaching as assessment and curriculum. How are we changing and why? Is this designed to translate to emerging circumstances? What should change and what should not?

Tags: adaptive learning algorithms, metacognition, globalization, personalized learning, learning models, artificial intelligence

New Literacies

Summary: Changing media forms place new demands on literacy patterns and pedagogical emphases. Research, data, publishing, social network use and more all have their own rules—& each require unique literacies to master. Further, these will always be changing. (See Emergence and Change.)

Tags: reading, writing, research, data, networks, coding, decoding, copyright/Creative Commons, modality


Summary: The duality of modern identity (digital and physical) creates new opportunities—and new reasons—for students to learn, connect, communicate and create. This is where knowledge, skill, and human character converge.

Tags: critical literacy, personalized learning, knowledge demands, mobile learning, mentorship, wisdom

Critical Thinking

Summary: Critical thinking, creative thinking, and adaptable patterns of inquiry are replacing content knowledge as the core of learning circumstances. Adapting creative and ‘growth’ mindsets are also a part of this effort.

Tags: inquiry-based learning, Project-Based Learning, social improvement, civic participation, learning taxonomies 

Analytics & Personalization

Summary: While generally misused today, analytics can (theoretically) be used to predict and personalize many facets of teaching & learning, inc. pace, complexity, content, and more. Artificial Intelligence will eventually revolutionize this practice.

Tags: assessment, digital portfolio, social traction, learning feedback, data, visual information, feedback loops

Continuity of Assessment

Summary: Understanding is perishable and performance is fluid. New assessment forms provide smarter and more timely learner feedback and visualized progress metrics, replacing tests, letter grades and other static snapshots (that are reductive, misleading and dated as soon as they are given).

Tags: publishing, connected learning, portfolios, letter grades, standardized tests, data, analytics, AI

TeachThought: A Diagram Of Pedagogy in the 21st Century; 8 Domains Of 21st Century Pedagogy