soning. Any of a number of graphic tricks would make this clear (e.g., linking skills to concepts to capabilities with arrows that lead upward or putting the lists in nested boxes.) The layering used by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2003), for example (core subjects, learning skills, 21st century context, 21st century content, etc.), has proven effective.
Having offered comments on the content of the framework, let me move on quickly to context. The skills list is certainly the narrowest of the three areas, but it may be the most important from a student engagement perspective. This is an area where students—even students lacking in some of the basic concepts and capabilities—increasingly bring prior knowledge and experience to the table, with technology becoming so prevalent in their personal lives. (When a nationally representative sample of 10- to 17-year-olds were recently asked what skills they need more experience with in order to be successful in life, technology skills actually ranked close to the bottom—after financial, job, life, communication, people, thinking, academic, and cultural skills [America’s Promise, 2005]).
From an implementation perspective, it is reasonable to argue that young people who have the intellectual capabilities identified in the framework will have an easier time acquiring specific concepts and technology skills. The power of the argument for ICT fluency, however, may lie in the fact that the more effective engagement strategy may actually be to work up from the bottom, with specific skills as a starting point.
The arguments become much more persuasive when the framework is presented as an answer to a bigger question: How can we capitalize on the fact that youths increasingly have and want to use skills, in order to teach the concepts underlying those skills and then push further to the build the larger intellectual capabilities?
Coming in the skills door also helps illustrate how and why schools are critical but not the only important setting that must be part of the conversation. I think we can all agree that the worst thing we could do is turn a natural skill acquisition space into a rote technology class or static curriculum. We must figure out how to integrate the application of technology skills plus the development of new skills into engaging learning contexts in which the development of the underlying concepts and intellectual capabilities are embedded learning goals.
People learn these skills and concepts through project-based, applied learning opportunities, as discussed in Being Fluent (National Research Council, 1999) Applied learning happens in school buildings and in the broader community, both during the school day and beyond. In fact, we