A Step Towards the Creation of Educational Technology Standards
What's the Hype?
Every major educational organization is setting their sights on developing computer technology standards with good reason. "Generation D" (digital) learners will meet a workplace where using technology is as necessary as knowing how to read and write. The virtual office is challenging today's workplace by accounting for nearly 8% of the U.S. jobs. By 2007, 20% of the US workforce is expected to just roll out of bed to commute to work via online in a virtual office located in their home (Newsweek). Creating standards in any area of study requires a great deal of research. Most National and State Standards are established for areas of study that are subject to little change and currently possess a benchmark of some sort. Technology is a field that does not fit into either of these categories, because it changes daily.
In order to develop standards, we must first identify key skills which students will need in the future. It's not as easy as you think to ascertain the identity of these skills, because it's difficult to predict the future. Although, within the next ten years, the paradigm of workplace technology is sure to change. There are a few key technologies that corporate employees will need to have a comprehensive knowledge. To meet this challenge, we have identified key skills for consideration.
We consider all of the major technology skills students will need to fit into five major categories: Hardware, Internet Applications, Programming, Software, and Networking.
Hardware use in schools
First came the typewriter, then came the word processor, then came HTML. We now have voice activated, digital communication systems that are leading the way to more advancements in communication that are just waiting to emerge. What's next? When does it stop? The simple answer is: "It doesn't!" Technology is not only hot at this current point in time, it's driving the American and World Economy. What we consider to be the latest hardware today will in ten years be considered obselete. "Generation D" will continually adapt to this change and will need to be continually versed on the use and application of the many emerging technologies. However, in the present scheme of things, the following basic knowledge is recommended for Generation D:
Students will need to understand how the CPU (i.e. connections, interfaces) directs printers. Students will also need to evaluate the cost/benefit factors attributed to different types of printing technology (i.e. ink jet vs. laser). The reason for this is because no matter how digital this world gets, we will always need to have hard copy. Basic knowledge of printers will save many future employees from panic in need-to-print situations.
2) High Density Storage-
With the advent of super high-density magnetic storage and on-line storage, this will be much less of an issue in the future. Currently, students need to be able to evaluate if optical or magnetic storage best suits their needs. Simple knowledge of storage devices will save you and your students from a great deal of head aches.
As Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software becomes more reliable, we will see an increased use of scanners in the workplace. Students will need to have a general concept of how the software works and how to operate a scanner.
4) Internet Connectivity-
In a few years, the price of high-speed connections will drop tremendously. Students will need to understand the available connection technology. Students will need to know all of their options.
5) CPU, RAM, Mother Boards (The Nuts & Bolts)-
Computer Hardware is getting to the point where even the most archaic models are dramatically out performing the software they are running. Being able to evaluate the nuts and bolts of a computer will become a less valuable skill as this trend continues and the gap widens. But it is still important to have a basic knowledge in this area in order to view things globally and problem solve when necessary.
Programming in Schools
Not everyone in the world needs to how to write common gateway interface (cgi) programs in Perl. We expect this trend to continue well into the next century.
The question remains: "What computer language should students learn?" This is impossible to answer. There are nearly as many computer languages as there are spoken languages. Each computer programming language has a unique task that it was created for. Languages also seem to come and go in the programming world. Very few languages have stood the test of time. No one language seems to be leading the way at this point in both the on and off-line worlds.
Programming will most likely never become common in corporate marketplace. But, if students were to understand mathematical logic they would be more adept to learn programming skills if required. Therefore courses like geometry, algebra, and trigonometry will service this skill well.