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Suttie Blog | 21st Century Skills Cannot Be Taught Online — and More

I am currently an online adjunct professor for Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. I have been teaching in the online/remote learning medium for over 10 years. The majority of my teaching online has been for adults — specifically midcareer adults. Online-only education can benefit those adults and children who, for various reasons, desire or need single-focus subject matter education and are very self-structured and self-disciplined. A decade worth of research also indicates that online-only education has led to exceptionally high program/degree attrition rates (on average over 85%) and incompletions. These results are worse for younger-age students.

Our Solution

HCA is planning to deliver remote learning throughout this next school year to serve students who may have to be home and are healthy, but for various reasons due to COVID-19 cannot be in class. Some are referring to this as “hybrid learning;” however, that is not the best term to use for how we plan to teach. Instead, we see our remote learning as “concurrent learning,” teaching both in the classroom and remotely at the same time.

HCA leadership attended professional development over this summer on how to improve online education for K–12 students. The course of instruction lasted several weeks (this was not a webinar, but a certificate course taught at the graduate level). The course taught that there is a sort of trinity to K–12 online education:

  1. Well-being
  2. Engagement
  3. Assessment

Well-being refers to efforts by the online teacher to focus on the relationship with the student and the student’s family. Engagement refers to the effort of the online teacher to improve participation and motivation for learning, and to stimulate inquiry. Assessment refers to testing, or assessing, student progress.

Staying On Mission

The primary mission of HCA is to not only teach core academic disciplines well (infused with a Christian worldview), but also to teach what multiple studies over the last 10 years have shown are the 21st Century skills: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technological literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, and social skills.

Look that list over. While single-subject topics can be taught through online-only learning, can each/all of those be taught exclusively through remote learning? Educators across the country resoundingly answer, “No.” However, these are what employers say are the most essential skills — and often the most absent — in their younger workforce. As such, HCA academic and co-curricular programs are designed to teach those skills across an annual curriculum and across the grades/ages.

Our remote learning is designed to serve the student who cannot be in class for a short period of time, and to keep that student from falling too far behind. It is not designed to be a substitute for classroom and co-curricular program education.

If you have questions about our plans for remote learning this next year, please give me a call. We have built in the flexibility to work with you on individual learning plans depending on your situation, but our plans are based on limiting the time in the remote environment given the reasons above. I am thankful for your choice to partner with HCA to prepare students for what God has planned for their life with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed. 

In Him, 


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