It seems like high school teachers spend a lot of time trying to keep their students off of Facebook, avoiding Wikipedia and generally preparing for careers in the ‘real’ world. But considering how many employers are looking for at least a minimal level of technical literacy these days, it seems crucial to get those same students using computers more, rather than less.
Students learn how to write resumes at most schools.
Why aren’t they learning how to handle their Facebook pages to avoid problems with a later boss?
Students learn how to type and handle other clerical tasks. Why aren’t they learning about some of the software that will let them provide administrative support to those businesses who don’t keep paper records anymore?
Students learn how to create artwork. Why aren’t they learning how to create an online portfolio of their work?
Social Media Literacy is Important to the Bigger Picture
For those students lucky enough to get any computer class at all in high school, the options tend to be learning how to use a very specific software package (such as Microsoft Office) or to program in an introductory level language. There’s very little middle ground. And these classes aren’t what’s needed. Most kids don’t need to know how to program and there are more user-friendly software options than Microsoft Office.
Instead, technology needs to be integrated into each class. Think about what a high school journalism class could turn out if each student had a blog. How would their writing and critical thinking skills evolve if their readers (and teachers) could instantly comment on what they had written. If those students plan to go into a field involving any writing at all, they’d have a heck of a head start.
With the growing demand for capable writers online, there are already some signs that the existing number of writers won’t be able to keep up — but many of the students currently in high school don’t have the skills necessary to step into the field. Adding opportunities to improve technical literacy to curricula will get those students up to speed much faster.
Education Has to Change — and It Had Better Do It Now
The modern education system is geared towards preparing students for the cubical farms, along with other regimented jobs. But if this economy should teach us anything, it’s that the very nature of work is changing. A lot of businesses have cut staff, bringing in contractors only when necessary and turning to automated and outsourced options wherever possible.
At the bare minimum, students today need to know how to operate as contractors, including a little bit of the marketing that goes along with working for multiple clients. Social media really is just a starting point.
Image by Flickr user Marie