The problem with today’s generals is that they are the winners of yesterday’s wars. In a similar way, teachers have a real challenge when it comes to developing a technology curriculum for kids, because the landscape has changed beyond anything they experienced as young people themselves. Children leaving school need to be responsible digital citizens and publishers.
Firstly, schools must help children learn to manage their digital identity responsibly. Your child’s online presence is a reflection of them, from how they dress their Xbox avatar to their Facebook ‘likes’. The prospect of becoming a virtual laughing stock is a source of anxiety for children, and just as real as being ridiculed in public. This is one occasion where teachers might be better suited than parents to advise kids.
School leavers also need the skills to be creative on digital platforms. Typing, file management, text formatting and basic design are not target skills, but knowledge gained while learning the tools that really matter. Far more important are content management abilities like audio and video editing skills, the basics of digital publishing platforms and photo management.
Schools need to look at the bigger picture. Learning how content is published is just as important as knowing how to create it. Future writers and editors need to get to grips with content management systems such as Wordpress to understand the basics of editorial publishing platforms.
Online security also important, whether it’s about data management or secure cloud computing. School leavers will increasingly share digital information in the cloud and manage their confidential information online, so they need to be aware of the perils and pitfalls of cyber crime.
Which skills do you think a school leaver today requires to get the edge?
I'd definitely go for
1) the four C's of education in the 21st century (see http://blog.entrepreneurthearts.com/2010/05/06/the-four-cs-of-21st-century-education) and
2) the learning cycle framed by Scratch creators at MIT: imagine-create-play-share-reflect. The bottleneck is in those absurd old-fashioned exams our kids still have to pass. You know the drill.
Typing! Be able to type! As an employer it drives me absolutely bonkers that I have to watch computer science graduates typing with two fingers at interview. I wont employ anyone who cant touch-type to at least 80 words-per-minute otherwise their productivity goes out the window. I really dont understand why it is not taught as a key subject at primary school as most of the kids there are going to be using a keyboard way more than they will ever use a pen. Its really easy to teach a child to touch type, and doesnt require anything more elaborate than a word processing program and a tea-towel to cover their hands. At primary school age they pick it up really quickly. There are free online typing tutor websites as well that help, but the key is to cover their hands.
1) The ability to find information on the web quickly while assessing the quality. Wikipedia is a great source but not the most accurate, all the time.
2) Understand their digital footprints - from as basic as choosing secure passwords to putting up profile pictures to sharing their location.
3) Netiquette - To be able to communicate responsibly. To keep personal information confidential. They have to understand how to conduct themselves online as employers may be watching.
Imagine, create, play, share, reflect says Roberto via MIT. And that's got to be it - it encompasses planning, content creation, collaboration and analysis. And it's a clear attempt to define good educational practice without referring to current-generation software or methods of working.
Again, what I do find an issue is that so much of what is recommended here is still only appropriate to the here and now.
- Managing digital identity responsibly is of course key right now. But does this need to be heavily taught? Or a five minute chat? And also, is this mainly a function of the newness of social media?
- Content creation and management can so easily become teaching the program, not the general ruleset. We don't want kids to "learn" WordPress, Pro Tools or Photoshop because they may be using entirely different software in the future, we want them to learn the possibilities inherent in such software and editing and even perhaps learn a bit to see the limitations of software.
- Typing? Really?! 80 words per minute? I'm a well-respected journalist and I type by pecking. Most jobs don't involve speed typing these days surely? And kids in 20 years time may well use entirely different methods of inputting information - speech etc.
As a college professor in the US it is my job to prepare college graduates for the work world. I specialize in Marketing so my emphasis is on making sure my students know how to manage the current crop of social networks and social media and that they have built a strong digital identity.
However, what I really teach them is adaptability, flexibility, and how to utilize resources to stay up to date. To be life long learners. I often tell the that what I'm teaching them today is only good for right now -- that the tool interface will (not may) change at a moments notice so my focus is not on the tool itself but fully understanding each tool's usefulness in getting a specific job done.
It's just like knowing what tools in a toolbox will do the best job -- the hammer for the nail, the screwdriver for the screw. Understanding the context, being able to identify the problem and then identify the best tool to address that problem are the skill sets we must be teaching today.
Writing, verbal communication, logic, problem solving are all very important attributes to teach students today -- they are the foundation for what they will need in jobs that don't even exist yet.
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