Monday, June 25, 2018

Computer Literacy Necessary in Today's Workforce?: An Evaluation of Technology in Education

Computer literacy is extremely important in the education industry.  Whether one is an instructor, student, principal, or advisor, understanding how computers and applications work is essential to thriving in education.  As a high school and middle school teacher for 5 years, I experienced differences in technology capabilities at various schools.  Three of the schools where I taught had one-to-one technology initiatives.  One of these schools allowed students to use any device they wanted, while the other schools limited device options.

I experienced first hand the challenge of teaching students who themselves don’t understand how to utilize the technology they have access to.  In one school I found myself teaching students how to right click, copy and paste, open new browser tabs, etc. in a Biology class, because they didn’t have basic computer literacy skills.  In addition, I was forced to stop lessons to troubleshoot various issues on multiple types of devices, or to commandeer our IT team, who always had their hands full.

Two other schools where I worked did not have one-to-one initiatives, but instead had computer carts, which floated from classroom to classroom.  Again, the use of computers in these classrooms was commonplace, so students needed computer literacy in order to succeed in the given tasks.  Students used Google classroom, Microsoft Office, and other applications to support their learning.  In addition, as a long-term substitute teacher at one of these schools, I taught a STEM class that used Lego Mindstorms robotics software, which I had to learn on the fly.

The use of computers in elementary, middle, and high schools continues to grow, since computers provide another dimension to learning and tend to engage students who might otherwise be “checked out.”  Students even use smart phones in some classrooms to engage in real time assessments and interactive learning activities.  Therefore, teachers, principals, students, and staff members need to have computer literacy to keep up with the increasing technology demand in schools.

In regards to higher education, it is near impossible to be employed without basic computer skills.  Many colleges and universities now provide online education opportunities for students, so faculty and staff must be prepared to use the technology that students interact with on a daily basis for their courses.  In addition, as an enrollment advisor, I train students to use their online classrooms, Student Portal, and communicate with their instructors.  I also utilize multiple databases to access student information and keep my daily activities organized.  If I didn’t have basic technology skills, there is now way that I would be able to complete the tasks necessary for my job.

The future of education is in technology.  Technology provides opportunities for remote learning, as well as free learning for those who have the focus and determination to teach themselves new skills.  I see the future of educational technology moving more towards cloud-based applications, since the cloud allows access from multiple devices, collaboration on documents, and also provides opportunities for greater storage.  In addition, I believe that in the next ten years, there will be as many opportunities for online degree programs in higher education as there are for traditional degree programs on campuses.  I presume there will always be a digital divide as a result of limited access to resources in disadvantaged communities, but I also believe that strides are being taken to bridge that gap and improve public access to technology.

Resources

Vahid, F., & Lysecky, S. (2017). Computing technology for all. Retrieved from zybooks.zyante.com/

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