Tracing research trends of 21st-century learning skills

Vered Silber-Varod, Yoram Eshet-Alkalai, Nitza Geri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, learning technologies have become a pivotal constituent of teaching–learning processes. Contemporary studies indicate that in order to effectively utilize these technologies, instructors and learners alike must master a range of cognitive and socio-emotional competencies, commonly termed “digital literacy competencies” or “21st century skills.” This study employs a content analysis methodology to trace trends of change in the research of core digital literacy competencies as reflected in the educational academic literature of the past 37 years (1980–2016). Based on well-established frameworks of digital literacy competencies, this research examined seven skills: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Problem-solving and Socio-emotional skills. Data were collected through advanced search queries of peer-reviewed publications in the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) database. Findings reveal that among the examined terms, Communication is the most prominent digital literacy skill, followed by Problem Solving and Collaboration. Furthermore, within the context of Skills, the most prominent terms are Information Literacy and Critical thinking; Technology and Collaboration are least mentioned. Our findings suggest that awareness of digital learning competencies in educational research literature is marginal, implying that educational research seems to lag behind the need to understand the ever-changing digital competencies that instructors and learners need.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3099-3118
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Research Authority of The Open University of Israel (#504292). We thank Mrs. Daphna Amit for her assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 British Educational Research Association


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