Twenty-first century skills development in rural school learners

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between connected learning environments and rural learners' development of 21st century skills. The driving question for the research is, "what is the impact of introducing a technology supported connected learning environment on rural learners' development of 21st century skills?" The need arises out of the undesirable state of education in South African public schools, particularly in poor, rural and marginalised areas. The literature shows that the learning environments in these contexts are stuck with an old education system that needs radical reinvention for the 21st century. The connected learning framework is used as a model for learning and a reference for design of the intervention that is employed. The study uses a qualitative and experimental approach for data collection, using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and data collected through a social media platform. The results show that connected learning is a possible approach to education in rural contexts, with learners showing evidence of 21st century skills development over the period of the study. Theoretical insights generated include the mechanisms with which connected learning environments promote 21st century skills development. The study also generated helpful insights for organisations and practitioners wanting to introduce modern learning environments in rural schools in South Africa.