An article on NPR about the Quest to Learn program in New York City led by Katie Salen cites systems thinking as one of the foundations for 21st century literacy. I found this article on a lead from Erika von Hoyer on the Systems Community of Inquiry via her Twitter feed.
The learning model at Quest to Learn says: “Games and other forms of digital media serve another useful purpose at Quest: they serve to model the complexity and promise of ‘systems.’ Understanding and accounting for this complexity is a fundamental literacy of the 21st century”. Reading the CV of Katie Salen, I notice that she was working on the Spaceship Earth Game at the Buckminister Fuller Institute in 2005.
This led to finding an interview about the three-year study on “Grinding New Lenses: A Design Project to Support a Systems View of the World” conducted by Kylie Pepper and Melissa Gresalfi at Indiana University. The funding by the MacArthur Foundation seems to be part of the research on assessing learning with new media as part of the 21st century assessment project.
In a panel at the Digital Media & Learning conference, Valerie Shute says “What attributes of the students are important for success in the 21st century? Systems thinking, collaborating, resource-management skills”. This is related to worked examples and evidence-centered design.
This direction on systems thinking in middle school is compatible with the proposed design for K-12 education on Smarter Planet Service Systems proposed by Jim Spohrer. The content is similar; the game based media could be more fun than education from an industrial era mindset.