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As superintendent of the Columbus Municipal School District in Mississippi, Dr. Philip W. Van Hickman created the K-16 Instruction and Technology Integration Model (K-16 ITI) to facilitate meaningful use of electronic resources in the classroom. Dr. Philip W. Van Hickman has infused the model with the “four C’s” of learning to maximize student learning outcomes.

The four C’s of learning stem from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an initiative established by the National Education Association and its partners. The partnership determined 18 crucial skills that students needed to succeed. Among these, the four skills of critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration emerged as the most crucial.

Critical thinking requires students to break down and analyze a concept to fully understand its meaning. In doing so, the student develops the ability to explain the material to others, comprehend it within a larger concept, and evaluate its worth in a particular situation.

Creative thinking, meanwhile, allows the student to use the information to develop a new idea or solution. It may involve taking a fresh perspective on the concept or using the concept in an innovative way to achieve a desired end.

Students in the 21st century must be able to interact with information in these ways not only individually, but also as part of a group. They need to be able to set goals, evaluate options, and support individual contributions to a project. These elements require effective communication.

Finally, collaboration demands that students not only decode and understand written and spoken language, but also use this ability to interact with others. They must be able to choose their words, non-verbal behaviors, and their communication channel effectively to maintain respectful and productive discourse.