The Learner International Award for Excellence

The Learner Journal Collection offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of The Learner Research Network.

Award Winners for Volume 24

A Revision of Activity Theory to Foster Communicative Twenty-first-century Skills

Based on activity theory (AT), this article focuses on a review of supportive learning environments that promote successful communication skills. We are living in a period of transformation in education, and our conception of learning outcomes must keep pace with technological advances. Today’s citizens must effectively communicate in written or oral forms. Effective communication implies other integrated abilities, including autonomy, critical thinking, interaction, and creativity. It also encompasses many of the principal competencies learners should be able to perform in any field. The findings of this revision suggest implementing four key twenty-first-century skills so that the higher-education learner is able to successfully work both independently and collaboratively—and this too requires adequate skills in social networking and communication.


The connection among human tasks, communication, and learning has significant implications for communicative learning approaches that combine collaboration with digital tools. Activity Theory (AT) defines an activity as a structure in which the subject interacts with an object in order to achieve an outcome. Technologies have transformed social interactions, mental functions, and learning. Effective communication implies other integrated abilities, including autonomy, critical thinking, interaction, and creativity.

The authors of this study point out that communication is multidimensional and complex. They highlight that communicative twenty-first century skills operate within both synchronous and asynchronous environments, through social media, and in formal and informal contexts. They conclude that twenty-first century communicative skills facilitate the development of competencies that are shaped in ubiquitous personal learning environments (UPLE) that change depending on the learner, the time, and the place (Koh et al. 2015; Sharples, Taylor, and Vavoula 2010). The findings of this study suggest implementing four key twenty-first-century skills so that the higher-education learner is able to successfully work both independently and collaboratively.

Soraya García-Sánchez and Nicholas C. Burbules

Past Award Winners

Volume 23

Renewing Assessment Practices: Literacy Teaching and Learning in Digital Environments

Cloonan, Anne, Kirsten Hutchison, and Louise Paatsch, The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp.13–28


Volume 22

The Power of Pedagogy: When All Else Fails

Deslea Konza and Susan Main, The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp.9–29


Volume 21

Virtual Supervision of Teacher Candidates: A Case Study

Barbara Schwartz-Bechet, The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp.1–12


Volume 20

Digital Texts, iPads, and Families: An Examination of Families' Shared Reading Behaviours

Katrina McNab and Ruth Fielding-Barnsley, The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp.53–62


Volume 19

Teacher Understandings of Orientation and Transition Programs from Action Research in Five Schools

Tess Boyle and Susan Grieshaber, The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp.15–27


Volume 18

Shared Decision-Making in School Governance: A Case Study of Two Soweto Secondary Schools

Patrick Mafora, The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp.97–108


Volume 17

Improving the Practice of Giving Feedback on ESL Learners‘ Written Compositions

Bernard Ouma Mikume and Samuel Ouma Oyoo, The International Journal of Learning, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp.337–354


Volume 16

Futuristic Schools: “Little Red Dot” Strategies in a Globalised Economy

Siew Kheng Catherine Chua, The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp.393–404


Volume 15

“What are Nice Guys Like them doing in a Place Like that?”: Education Journeys from Australian Indigenous Students in Custody

Vicki Adele Pascoe and Kylie Radel, The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp.301–310