How intervening develops 21st century skills

Teaching Strategies

By Michael Hilkemeijer

Today, it is not uncommon for teachers to walk into a classroom where students have a greater knowledge of technology than what they do. Let’s face it. This is a trend that will only continue as each new generation of students gets exposed to new technological developments and advancements in society. Student knowledge of technology is a fantastic way, however, for a teacher to capitalise on a student’s knowledge of how to use a new device. It means that they don’t have to be experts in all the ICT that exists but have a working knowledge of how it can be used in the classroom. What they need to do is to begin to facilitate a student’s learning by ensuring that they make the right decisions.

Teacher intervention in a student’s ICT activity plays a crucial role in enabling students to make a correct decisions. It creates a good opportunity to question students on ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of doing things. Student ICT capability requires students to have the capability to go beyond just knowing techniques but to have a clear understanding and knowledge of when to use these techniques and devices for a ICT solution to a problem. Intervening allows for the development of higher order skills such as decision making and it helps the student to reflect on the task being carried which is another key factor.


Here are some tips for effective intervention.

  1. Plan interventions during the activity stage when the students have a need for the relevant knowledge – write this into your activity sheet and ask students to see at a particular stage;
  2. Prepare by anticipating for planned, unplanned and at other times when you need to drive learning further;
  3. Have you questions set for the above periods of time – use open-ended questions that will help students analyse and evaluate the use of ICT for the activity;
  4. Monitor work to decide when the critical moments are in a student’s learning;
  5. Never provide students with a set of instructions on how to do things. It is important that they try things out. This enables you to intervene when they don’t make the expected progress.
  6. Provide when minimum level of support for students – structure your activity by questioning, prompting and showing if necessary and then withdraw as much support as possible to see if the student can do it unaided;
  7. Finally, intervene in the form of focusing questions to determine their conceptual understanding.

As a 21st century skill, ICT capability is amongst the most vital one that students must have. Through intervention of ICT activities, students can develop their higher order skills as a result of the teacher’s guidance. A student’s ability to determine if an ICT tool or resource is suitable for a task requires the correct decision making on their own behalf and teachers must continually probe their conceptual understanding. In an ICT-integrated society, this characteristic is desirable. Remember, “a good coach guides the child’s progress through a task by asking questions that focus their attention at critical points, but leaves the child believing that the plan was his or her own” (Kennewell et al., 2000). In the end, it is not whether a student knows a technique or skill, it is whether that they know that they know and thus able to decide to use it.

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