There is a common myth, a technological myopia, applicable to the current generation of students. Most students regularly use technologies like SMS texting, iPods, games consoles, internet chats, etc. It is highly visible and this leads to the (reasonable?) assumption that there is a broad and deep understanding of the associated technologies. This is a myth, although there is a superficial appearance of being technology savvy the understanding of what can be done goes no further than the instantaneous end user activity. These are not necessarily transferable skills; they are situational and students cannot always apply those skills in a new environment, situation, or context. As digital migrants, we do not know what we do not know; more importantly we do not know how to check what the students don’t know and consequently have low expectations of their technology use. That superficial use appears to be acceptable and even amazing. It will, however, not suffice in the increasingly dynamic, increasingly information packed, increasingly demanding, increasingly competitive world students are part of.
In order to be a successful learner not only through junior school – senior school – University, but also in the rapidly changing workplace, adaptability is key. The ability to learn, change, relearn and apply known skills in as yet unknown situations will be vital for our current students. One of the central tenets of success in the work place will be lifelong learning.
Lifelong learning will be dependant upon the successful construction of a Personal Learning Network. This will involve as set of self sufficiencies, constant availability of updated resources, some physically tangible (libraries, etc.,) some personal, (family, teachers, SMEs, etc.,) and many many virtual ones (social networks, micro blogs, online resources, Wikipedia, Google, etc,). Additionally, collaboration will become more and more vital, not just for the social aspects but for the diversity of thought processes.
Current curricula are jam packed with knowledge and students have timetables full to overflowing, not only with academic but also co-curricula material. There is little time for reflection, questioning, time for ideas to sink in, and time for ideas to form and surface. Concept development happens during interaction and collaborative exchange. New possibilities appear when ideas are bounced around among peers, mentors and other creative people. Two students sharing, synergistically, produce better work than two students working separately.
Transferable and adaptive skills and in depth knowledge of technological possibilities will be vital to student success in the workforce. We are educating children for a future that we cannot even envision.