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We so often hear that today’s students, really starting in the earliest grades, already “know how” to use technology. We’re finding that while they’re really quite proficient at texting, gaming, and posting on social networks, the deeper skills and proficiencies they need to succeed in an academic setting are not well developed. Can you address that from your perspective?

I hear this about younger people all the time as well, and the assumption that people born after a certain year simply “get” technology (and therefore don’t need formal instruction or guidance) is fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons:

  • Being comfortable with technology consumption doesn’t make someone competent at curation, creation, and collaboration.
  • There’s a tendency to overestimate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of young people, especially when it comes to leveraging social and digital technology in the context of their academic or work lives. Many of them are far less competent than we assume them to be.
  • There’s no such thing as “A” Digital Native. Technically speaking, a 22 year-old, 12 year-old and 2 year-old are all Digital Natives, but what it means for each of them is drastically different.
  • According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2014 survey: Top 10 findings, technological change in the workplace is leading to a skills half-life of only 2.5 years. Given that, it’s impossible for anyone to “already know how” to use all the technology they’re going to encounter in their lives.

The fact that someone can drive a car for fun doesn’t mean they know how to negotiate all road and driving conditions. More to the point, imagine if people assumed that simply because people talk with their family and friends that they need no guidance in spelling, grammar, sentence construction, composition, etc. As with other areas of their personal and professional development, children need formal instruction and guidance. And that means that we need digitally literate teachers, administrators, and other educational leaders. Which begs the question: to what extent are educators today facilitating the digital literacy of children today, and to what extent might they be hindering their development?

Join us tomorrow for Part 4 of this interview series, when we discuss the challenge of constantly changing technology.

Keith Oelrich with looking at camera and smiling

Keith Oelrich


Keith Oelrich joined as CEO in 2012. A pioneer in the K-12 online education market since 2000, Keith has served as CEO of several companies which have collectively provided K-12 online education programs to thousands of districts, tens of thousands of schools and millions of students and their families.

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