"21st century skills" are the skills that today's students will need to be successful in this ever changing world. The most recognizable of these skills are the 4C's: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. However, 21st century skills also include social and emotional intelligence, technological literacy and problem solving abilities. These skills emphasize "application of knowledge" and go beyond rote memorization. Now more than ever employers are putting an emphasis on these skills as students are entering the workforce ill prepared. These skills are becoming an important aspect of curriculums K-12. The development of 21st century skills begins in elementary school and progresses up through high school. The need for 21st century skills has spurred the integration of technology along with the emphasis on STEM and PBL in classrooms. These concepts help students develop the higher thinking skills that colleges and employers are looking for. The education industry is changing and placing greater importance on preparing students for the real world, which is why 21st century skills are more important than ever.
Defined STEM utilizes performance tasks, real world videos and project based learning to bring relevancy to the information students are learning. Through these methods of learning students will utilize all 4C's in order to successfully complete their tasks. Furthermore, Defined STEM helps students utilize other aspects of 21st century skills by providing them with digitally based content that emphasizes technological literacy. Through their performance tasks students are asked to use a myriad of skills to complete the assignment at hand. Defined STEM combines multiple subjects into one task and helps the student make real world connections just like they would have to do in college or their future career. Using this cross curricular approach Defined STEM helps students take learning into their own hands and apply what they have learned to the real world.