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Common Technology Concepts All Students Need

by | Mar 30, 2018 | News

A few months ago, I volunteered at a ChickTech event in Portland, Oregon. The event was intended to provide women an occasion to engage with the tech community through a series of workshops and mentoring opportunities. I helped in the Intro to Databases class and was impressed with the interest each of those girls showed in technology, despite having limited exposure to technology in the past. Something that struck me about the event was that the keynote speakers were not traditional technologists. One speaker was a digitally published poet just out of high school and the other speaker was a marketing professional having worked many years for high profile tech companies.

Through this observation, I was reminded that careers in technology are no longer limited to engineers and developers. In fact, technology has become so integral to such a wide variety of career roles that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports “…more than 50% of today’s jobs require some degree of technology skills and experts say that will increase to 77% in the next decade.”

If the power of technology is only exposed to those who aspire to be engineers and developers, we are putting our current and future workforce at risk of not reaching their full potential or being left behind. The World Economic Forum estimates “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” With numbers like these, it becomes quite clear that we need to anticipate and prepare our students for future job skills that will require an understanding of technology.

Here are some technology concepts students need to learn and be able to apply to help equip them with future skills that all employers require.

Digital Citizenship – students need to learn how to protect their personal safety, and the safety of others, when interacting in a digital world, including the ethical and legal issues related to working and communicating online. They need to recognize and protect against the potential risks and dangers associated with various types of online communication and participation in online communities. In addition, they need to be able to connect to individuals from different backgrounds, locations, and cultures to gain a broader perspective on common topics and issues, recognize the interconnectedness of the global community and leverage diverse perspectives when creating solutions and innovation.

Computational Thinking – students need to develop critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills, cultivate dispositions and attitudes to have confidence, persistence, cognitive flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity and actively employ collaborative approaches. They need to understand the power of computing and learn to use patterns, modeling, abstraction and decomposition in algorithmic design, implementation and testing to develop efficient, effective solutions. While these are foundational skills used in computer programming and coding, they are also transferable skills that students can use in their everyday lives.

Creative Production – students need to develop knowledge of digital resources and tools, proper judgement and decision making to evaluate the “right” digital tools for the job and be able to create digital products that effectively communicate and express ideas and tackle novel problems. Working individually and collaboratively, thinking about audience and voice, drawing conclusions or learnings by tracking, organizing and interpreting data and determining the appropriate format to develop a clear representation of original or remixed work is crucial for the demands of high school, college and the workforce.

Digital Communication – students need to be able to navigate the subtleties of different digital communication tools.  They should be expected to understand the power of digital communication processes and be able to select the most appropriate communication tools for the situation to create, maintain, and transform communities and workplaces. In addition, they need to be able to analyze and evaluate digital communication to determine validity, accuracy, relevance and credibility.

These concepts are not techno-speak or jargon. They are, however, heavily nuanced by technology, and they are essential concepts for all students to understand to be successful in today’s world and tomorrow’s future. Our future workforce will need to embrace these concepts; apply them to creatively problem solve; and recognize where technology can assist.

Find out if your students know common terms within these technology concepts that all K-8 students should know.

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