Fun: An understated aspect of 21st Century Learning. Collaboration.



I deal in the world of 21st Century Learning Skills from an education perspective. I work with the concepts of 21st Century Learning daily, thinking about how teachers are going to incorporate them, teach them, and inspire students to apply them in every aspect of their life. My friend (Jacob Standish) and I have distilled the overarching aspects of 21st Century Learning Skills down to 3:: Create, Collaborate, and Organize. What I realized this weekend, while reflecting on the past weeks, is that 21st Century Learning is also, and always has been, FUN! 

The past month has been a culmination of working through ideas Jacob Standish and I have been playing with since November 2010. We collaborate on everything. That collaboration has been (and continues to be) FUN! Fun was not the intention. We didn’t start collaborating together because we were looking to have fun, we collaborated together because our ideals seemed in line with the directions we both wanted to go with district implementation of 21st Century Skills and Learning. Fun has been in unexpected aspect of our collaboration. When we are creating for our district the collaboration is fun, it is something I look forward too!  

This collaboration wasn’t forced on us, it came about after some time hanging out. A teacher (or boss) didn’t say “You two work together” or “You will be collaborating with Jake.” Our collaboration developed over time. So often Teachers “force” the aspect of collaboration with their students when collaboration can (and should) happen naturally, organically (like the web itself). I do collaborate with others, groups and people that I am asked to work with on projects, as we also ask our students to collaborate with different individuals. And I seek others out to collaborate with, both at work and through my PLN. I believe fun should be a byproduct of these collaborations. Does that mean that EVERY ASPECT of the collaboration is fun? Usually not. Jake and I usually get into a weekly argument about something we are collaborating on, but it is because we are passionate about helping our teachers in the district. As we develop opportunities for our students to collaborate we should consider fun as a byproduct. 

When people are collaborating and having fun the products they are creating end up as a much better product. Outside the education world I’ve seen this to be true too. I’ve noticed this in the music industry for certain artists. The music industry is one big machine of collaboration. When artists truly collaborate and have fun the product they have to show for it is by far a much better product. Take Eminem’s Album Recovery. Whether you like Eminem or not the songs on this album that he has collaborated on are better because of the collaboration. The collaboration is seamless, the hard work is obvious, and the fun shines through on these songs. Included is a playlist of some of his collaborations that highlight the quality and fun because of the collaboration. 


Collaboration is a 21st Century Learning Skill. We are asked to collaborate weekly with co-workers. We ask our students to collaborate with fellow students. The product of true collaboration should be better because of the collaboration that took place. The unexpected fun that ensued will show through in the products. As we all continue to explore implantation of 21st Century Learning and teaching in the 21st Century we shouldn’t overlook the understated aspect of fun. [Now, how that fun comes to be? That is for another post.]


About technology_tim

Moved to New Site: Instructional Technology Specialist, Podcaster, Teacher, Jamie's Husband, Father of Three, iOS Expert, Apple Expert
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3 Responses to Fun: An understated aspect of 21st Century Learning. Collaboration.

  1. edtechstandish says:

    You are right about collaboration is best when it is also fun. The trouble with students is I’ve found they can get to the fun quite easily. Focusing on the collaboration is the hard part. You’re on to something about it needing to be fun, I think the challenge is convincing them that hard work IS fun.

  2. Pingback: How is collaboration fun? | Technology Tim

  3. Pingback: Professional Development: What kind of person does it take? | Technology Tim

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