Centre for Educational Research and Innovation - CERI

OECD/CERI International Conference, Learning in the 21st Century: Research, Innovation and Policy, 15-16 May 2008


The OECD/CERI, on the occasion of CERI’s 40th anniversary, addressed the state of the art on learning at an international conference on “Learning in the 21st Century: Research, Innovation and Policy”.  This conference took place at the OECD Headquarters, Paris, on 15-16 May 2008. It was a forum for the discussion of recent major CERI analyses on Learning Sciences and Brain ResearchAlternative Models of Learning, and New Millennium Learners.  It incorporated related OECD analyses on learning and learning environments -PISA and the Programme on Educational Building (PEB).

The CERI approach of combining futures thinking with evidence-informed research and innovation results is an especially useful lens for addressing issues such as: the importance of focusing on learning, identifying 21st century learners, their demands and capacities compared to earlier generations, assessing how much we know about learning methods and the functioning of the brain, and how this is reflected in educational practice, looking at learning environments and approaches to learning, and how to close the gaps between educational arrangements and successful learning. While much of the focus of the background documentation has been on school-age learners, the conference may usefully bring in insights regarding older learners and non-school learning environments. In addition, the debate will provide insight to OECD Member countries in its reflection on different learning processes as effective tools in shaping educational reform.


Learning is central in knowledge-based societies and economies. In many countries there is a push to reflect this by ensuring that reforms of the education system focus more strongly on learning itself rather than simply changing structures and educational organisation. But what does a ‘focus on learning’ mean in concrete terms? Why is it important? And crucially, is the knowledge base on learning strong enough to help policy-makers shape the direction of educational change?


To address these questions and how they relate to the broader context of learning, the conference included active exchange of all participants in a series of plenary and workshop sessions.  OECD Member countries had been invited to send representatives from the educational fora, gathering policy-makers, officials, as well as programme leaders, practitioners, researchers and specialists in learning sciences and related fields.

For further information please contact: CERI Learning in the 21st Century


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