21st century learning design: Course 6 - real-world problem-solving and innovation


Real world problem-solving and innovation are skills that are integral to living and working in the 21st century. Educators can provide young people with opportunities to engage in real world problems and to apply their solutions or ideas in practice. This course defines what we mean by problem-solving and the dimensions that should be present in such activities.

Learning objectives

To frame and answer the following questions:

  • What are the big ideas in problem-solving and innovation?
  • What are the problems experienced by real people?
  • Are there specific, explicit contexts for problem-solving?
  • How can actual data be used to solve a problem?


Module 1: What is real-world problem solving and innovation?

Questions to think about:

  • Define "problem solving"
  • What is the key to designing a learning activity that allows students to practice problem-solving and innovation?

Module 2: The big ideas in real-world problem-solving and innovation

Questions to think about:

  • Identify three ways that students could demonstrate problem solving (hint: look on the big ideas page for problem-solving and innovation of the notebook)
  • What makes a problem, a "real-world" problem?
  • What has to occur in the learning activity for it to be considered to support innovation?

Module 3: The real-world problem-solving innovation rubric/decision tree

Questions to think about:

  • Describe the components of a learning activity that would result in a code of 2
  • What is the difference between a code of 3 and a code of 4?

Module 4: Real-world problem-solving and innovation anchor lessons

Questions to think about:

  • When a student cannot implement his/her ideas in the real world, what would count to ensure that the learning activity supports innovation?
  • If students are given data-sets in science and use it to answer questions, is this considered problem-solving? Why or why not?

Module 5: Real-world problem-solving and innovation in action

Questions to think about:

  • In the learning activity featured in this course, what evidence is available that the work was innovative?
  • What does it mean for problem-solving to be the "main requirement" of a learning activity?

Module 6: Real-world problem-solving and innovation in action in your classroom

Questions to think about:

  • Think of a learning activity you will do with your students in the next 1-3 weeks. What would you code it (in terms of problem-solving and innovation) and why?
  • If it isn’t at a code of 4, how could you modify it to bring it up at least one level?




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