21st Century Learning

The Startup Apprentice program delivers ‘learning-how-to-learn’ capabilities which are necessary for all young adults navigating our digital, interconnected world.  It addresses the following key learning activities at the highest level (level 4):

  • Collaboration

  • Knowledge Construction

  • Self Regulation

  • Real World Problem Solving and Innovation

  • Use of ICT for Learning

  • Skillful Communication.

Details of what each learning activity means, and how Startup Apprentice delivers them is summarised below, you can download the full assessment at the end of the page.


What? Learners work together in pairs or groups and have shared responsibility.  They make substantive decisions together about the purpose, content, process, or product of their work and their work is interdependent.

Why? Working collaboratively in partnership with others and in teams is essential for learning and life success in today’s independent world.  Collaboration is the lynchpin for effective participation in families and workplaces, and in local and global communities.

How? Startup Apprentice teaches students how to assess their own skill set and identify skills in the people around them to form a team around a business idea.  The students define their end product, determine the tasks required to deliver the end product and then work interdependently to complete their assigned tasks and deliver a business concept.

Knowledge Construction

What? Learners engage in meaningful knowledge construction: learners see relevance, purpose, connect new ideas to prior knowledge and access learning in diverse ways. Learners actively work with significant ideas, topics, questions and thinking processes and are required to make connections and identify patterns and relationships among them.  Learners are required to demonstrate and apply their new knowledge to a new context.

Why? In a world where information is growing exponentially, the meaning of ‘knowing’ has shifted from being able to consume, remember and reproduce information to one where learners actively construct understanding to create knowledge that is new and usable to them.

Deep understanding is constructed when learners explore and actively work with significant ideas, topics and questions. Explicit opportunities to make connections, to identify patterns and see relationships among these enable learners to organize and synthesize new and coherent understandings.

This is essential to effective knowledge navigation in today’s world.

How? Each Startup Apprentice team is working on their own unique idea.  General business and technology concepts are delivered to the students but they then need to take those concepts and apply them to their own business idea.

Self Regulation

What? Learning activities provide substantive time and opportunity for learners to develop self-regulation skills.  Learners know the learning intentions and associated success criteria in advance of the learning work and have the opportunity to plan their own work.  Learners use feedback to improve their learning.

Why? Today’s complex world demands self-regulated thinkers and learners who can take responsibility for their lives, their work, and their ongoing learning.

In past times, teaching was often viewed as ‘telling’; teachers would organize and direct student learning, tell learners what to do and expect compliance.

Today, we recognise that this way of working produces dependency and compliance rather than self-regulation because learners’ abilities to think effectively, make decisions for themselves, and take ownership of their learning are diminished.

Self-regulation involves a range of skills that become increasingly sophisticated as they develop over time. Therefore, learning activities must provide substantive time and ongoing opportunities for learners to develop these, with visibility into clear learning intentions or goals and success criteria that learners can use to plan, monitor, and assess their own learning work.

In the most successful learning activities, learners receive and use feedback effectively to improve their learning and related work products.

How?  The Startup Apprentice program has clear outcomes that are communicated to the students from the outset.  After the initial idea, business model and minimum product is established, students work to complete self assigned tasks and report on their progress and difficulties each week, with their peers offering support and assistance.

Real World Problem Solving and Innovation

What? Learners work with real-world issues, opportunities, challenges and problems for authentic audiences and real-life benefits. They actively inquire and pose questions to identify authentic needs, opportunities and define problems.  They generate possibilities, design and test out ideas and solutions and they evaluate, reflect and take action on their ideas in the real world.

Summary: In a world characterized by exponential change and complex challenge, it is essential for learners to develop dynamic, innovative mind-frames and capabilities that enable them to continually adapt, create the ‘new,’ and actively contribute to making the world a better place for all.

Learners work as real-world innovators and problem-solvers when they engage with authentic issues, opportunities, challenges, and problems for authentic audiences and benefits.

They actively inquire into these and generate multiple ideas and options from which to create, design and test their solutions and ideas.

How?  Students are taught how to identify real world problems or needs to address through real life observations and to create relevant and useful solutions. As the students strive to create the best business around their ideas they are required to seek feedback from identified customers and channel the learning back into their business model and end product.

Use of ICT for Learning

What? Learners’ use of ICT is required to construct knowledge in ways that add value to learning. Learners use ICT to design and create new ideas, products and solutions for authentic audiences and users.

Why? While ICT is becoming increasingly common in classrooms and learning environments, it is often used to present or passively consume information.

ICT has the potential to fundamentally transform learning experiences, to enable learning in ways that were not previously possible.

ICT is a powerful tool to support the development of a wide range of 21st Century capabilities and skills.

How?  Startup Apprentice encourages students to create and present real world digital businesses.  They create websites, use ICT to design and create branding, they may use 3D modelling and printing, they may use development frameworks depending on the product they are building.

Skillful Communication

What? Learners are required to produce coherent communication and are required to design their communication for a particular audience.  Learners are required to produce substantive, multi-modal communication and reflect on and use the process of their learning to develop and improve their communication.

Why? Developing technologies have created new opportunities to enrich engagement, learning, and active participation in society with a whole range of contemporary communication modes and tools, and with broader reach and fewer barriers than ever before.

Communications can be spoken, written, visual or multimodal and in print or digital and online forms.

Multimodal texts combine language with other systems for communicating such as visual images, soundtracks and spoken word, for example, in film or digital presentations.

How? Communication is a key element of business and a key focus in the Startup Apprentice program.  From elevator pitching to communicate initial ideas, to websites to generate product interest, to their final ‘shark tank’ style business presentations – students utilise multiple mediums and techniques to express their ideas and business concepts.

Download the full 21CLD Assessment for the Startup Apprentice Program.

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